School Reopening Plans Vary Widely As Trump Piles On Pressure

Holly Quan
July 08, 2020 - 8:45 am

    Related: Virus Prevention Has South Bay Schools Getting Ready

    A patchwork of education plans is emerging around the Bay Area as school districts contemplate how to open schools next month.

    Students in the East Side Union High School District in San Jose will not return to the classroom; fall classes will be held online instead. At the Alum Rock District, the majority of students will learn remotely while about 10% of students, such as those who are homeless or have special needs, will be on campus. San Jose Unified is leaning towards a hybrid model and in San Francisco, the Chronicle reports that district officials are just now polling parents about their coronavirus concerns, raising the question of whether the district will be ready to start the school year next month.

    Tensions are even higher in Oakland, where a caravan of teachers and parents are expected to hold a protest at school district headquarters Wednesday, objecting to plans to reopen schools next month. The district is expected to lay out teaching plans by the end of the week.

    The wide range of reopening plans is not what the President wants to see; he threatened to withhold federal funding Wednesday if schools do not open in the fall, although he did not specify what types of funding are at stake or how the White House will assist states in getting schools open.

    Delaine Eastin is the former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and she finds it galling that the federal government would make these demands without offering guidance or funds. 

    "I’m not arguing for distance learning," Eastin said. "I’d love to see them all come back to the classroom. But there needs to be strategic planning about whether we serve the kids at home or at school, depending on where the pandemic is and what’s happening locally. And we need to have that thoughtfully done, not some puffed up guy saying, 'everybody has to do what I say' even though the federal government does almost nothing for schools."

    Eastin said to expect more variety in reopening plans, as there are many factors that will impact what each district is able to do and how to best serve its student body.

    "There are school districts where you couldn’t create a six foot space unless the school day was 12 or 14 hours long," said Eastin.

    She added that you can not treat San Francisco schools the same as schools in Fresno or Los Angeles, and there is no uniform plan that will work for all districts, no matter what the President said.