Students will be able to return to Hayward Unified schools Tuesday for in-person instruction after switching to a week of distance learning amid a COVID-19 surge that has seen more than 200 teachers and staff catch the virus.

During an emergency meeting on Friday, the school board voted 3-2 to resume classes. Students started the school year inside classrooms on Jan. 3, then switched to distance learning last week.

“I think we can all agree here that the most effective form of instruction is in-person instruction,” board Vice President Peter Bufete said. “With the plan that is in place, I think we have the ability to return back to school safely.”

The school board had previously voted to temporarily move to online learning so teachers and other staff can get tested and quarantine if needed. According to the district, 122 teachers and other staff members tested positive Jan. 3-9 and 96 more did so Jan. 10-13.

The school board decided all students and staff who participated in the virtual learning program last week should attend in-person classes unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last five days or have symptoms but have not yet gotten test results indicating they’re negative.

Trustees Gabriel Chaparro and Sara Prada voted against returning to the classrooms.

Chaparro suggested holding off for another week to see how the surge plays out. “We’re barely over a crest,” he said. “I’m a little nervous to do this and to open straight up on Tuesday when the county data is still showing that we may be at the peak coming down. Maybe we just need a little bit more time to let things settle.”

But district officials said they feel they’ve taken meaningful steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

They said the district has received 3,600 rapid tests from the Alameda County Office of Education that will be distributed to everyone who wasn’t able to test in person before Jan. 18. In addition, N95 masks will be available to all teachers and staff when they return to the classrooms.

And to cover for teachers still out sick with COVID, district administrators will do some of the classroom instruction while classified staff will provide additional supervision in classrooms and common areas.

Despite those measures, some teachers told the school board they’re worried about returning to the classrooms right now.

“I just want to express on behalf of my students what they have told me this week,” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


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COVID: Hayward Unified switches course again, resumes classroom instruction on Tuesday

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