By Tim Hunt
Now is the time to fully reopen Pleasanton schoolsUploaded: Mar 30, 2021
Pleasanton students went back into the public schools last week in a hybrid program that has two days of in-person instruction and three days of online instruction.
Parents had the option of sending their children or continuing the online instruction. Adding together the different “first days” of instruction, district spokesman Patrick Gannon said there were 7,003 students in classrooms, a little less than half of the 14,442 enrollment. He pointed out that they were the first district in the county to fully reopen. They used the hybrid approach that many districts have followed.
Not surprisingly, significantly more elementary students went back that high school and middle school. Elementary attendance totaled 3,535 out of 5,943, while middle school was at 1,753 out of 3,412. For the high schools, 1,706 students out of 5,087, about one-third showed up in person.
Now that schools are open, it’s time for trustees and district leadership to move ahead with more in-person instruction. They can take a hint from San Ramon Valley where trustees have directed full-day, in-person instruction starting Monday for high school and middle school students, while elementary students start today. The district took the action after the state revised its spacing policies for schools to three feet instead of six feet allowing for more classroom capacity.
For Pleasanton, making a decision this week would be timed nicely. Spring break starts Friday and runs through next week so classrooms can be rearranged to accommodate more students. Monday, April 13 would be an appropriate day to expand the opportunities for students. There will be only seven weeks of school left if students return then, but that would return students to a more normal schedule and allow for additional activities. Pressure on the governor resulted in an “all sports” season that’s ongoing.
Going back to full reopening also will establish that five days of in-person learning will be the routine come August 11 when the new school year starts.
The data is clear on how minimal transmission of COVID-19 is among children and how badly the shutdowns have harmed student outcomes, whether educational or health. Early on, closing the schools before more was understood about the virus was understandable—leaving them closed all year as likely will be the case in the state’s largest districts that are dominated by teachers’ unions demands is simply horrible.
It’s great that the local districts have leadership and teachers working together to try to serve children as well as they can.