San Jose school district weighs options for reopening

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The South Bay has been in the red tier of the state’s reopening blueprint for 13 days — That means schools have the green light to reopen as soon as tomorrow.  

Two weeks in the red tier means Santa Clara County schools will have the option of resuming in-person classes but most are expected to stick with online learning through the end of the year. 

Willow Glen High and the other schools in the 28,000 student San Jose Unified School District, the South Bay’s largest, will not be welcoming students back to school tomorrow despite being cleared to do so.  

Instead, the district will continue with online learning at least through the end of December, says spokesperson Jennifer Maddox.

“Because there are other things in the county guidelines that are still prohibited, like indoor gatherings for example, and from our perspective, if people can’t gather indoors, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put 30 kids in a classroom together, which seems similar to an indoor gathering,” Maddox said. 

Although some smaller private schools have already been granted waivers to resume in-person classes, larger districts are holding off even though the county is a day away from being off the state’s monitoring list for two weeks.

“What we’re going to see in the next few days is every school district and dialogue with parents having a conversation about what makes sense and you will have different decisions being made for different schools,” Santa Clara County spokesman David Campos said. 

A key consideration in San Jose Unified decision to stick with distance learning is the burden of being responsible for testing students for COVID-19.

“They issued a new health order last week that is requiring the large health care providers to increase their testing and to make sure it’s available to all of the citizens of Santa Clara County, we need that in order to reopen schools safely because we need to be able to isolate the cases quickly,” Maddox said.

“The main thing, for those of us who want to see this option of reopening schools to remain as an option, is to make sure people continue to follow the rules so that we contain the transmission to make it so that schools have a shot at reopening in classroom instruction where that’s appropriate,” Campos said.

The main reason that school districts have this option now is that the county is reporting some of the lowest coronavirus numbers since June. Right now, only about 2-percent of people tested are coming back positive.

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