Bay Area classrooms officially close for the school year

MDUSD Roadmap to Reopen leads in one direction only: Distance Learning

Mt. Diablo Unified School District opens the 2020-21 school year on Thursday, Aug. 13, and the district’s Roadmap to Reopen, which released its first draft in June with three main options for fall instruction, now leads in one direction only: a return to distance learning.

At Monday’s board meeting, over 80 stakeholders ― teachers, parents, staff and students—gave their opinion about the reopening plan via voicemail messages. Due to the volume of calls only the first minute of each was played. The majority expressed concerns about any forms of instruction other than distance learning while also pointing out numerous issues that need to be addressed based on last spring’s three-month experiences with the new concept.

The board, with new superintendent Dr. Adam Clark also participating, discussed options and made it clear they were looking at staff to develop the distance learning option before a vote by the board will make it official at their next meeting. The first draft of the Roadmap had three options developed for parents to choose from for their children: full distance online learning, full-time in-person on campus (4 or 5 days a week per student) or a hybrid of 2 days on campus and 2 days online.

Roadmap to Reopening

District staff unveiled its latest version of Roadmap to Reopening to the board via Zoom and discussed feedback it has received from 13,000 family survey returns in June and more recent reactions to the initial plan from both parents and staff. One disturbing number about the responses to the online survey was that individual school returns varied from a high of 91% of the parents from some schools to a low of only 8% at others.

Those responses. albeit many coming nearly a month ago, showed a preference for on campus learning. Of course, the large spike locally and statewide of COVID-19 cases has caused nearly every California school district ― with the exception of Clovis which just voted to reopen all its schools in August ―to announce distance learning is going to be the method as the 2020-21 term begins next month.

The MDUSD plan includes an outline of the health and safety measures on each school site including staff and students wearing face coverings, washing hands and getting “passive health screenings” upon arriving each day, reduced bus and classroom capacities, social distancing on campus and staggered class and meal hours.

Local private and charter public schools most likely will all follow the MDUSD lead and engage in distance learning, based on comments this week to The Pioneer.

The preliminary plan developed by staff included adherence to Contra Costa County Office of Education, Contra Costa Health Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directives. Of course, all of these agencies and others, are monitoring the very fluid pandemic situation and altering plans quite regularly.