Over halfway through winter break, December 28 to be exact, all students and staff in the SDUHSD district received the same notification titled, “Subject: Special Board Meeting – December 28” (https://app.signalkit.com/a/22976388/c86cd265026be413ce4bd487191b395a/). The 600 words of this district-wide email are devoted to one message: we would not be returning to school on Monday, January 4th, 2021.
To be honest, despite the vocal displeasure from many teachers and the organized protests, I still was surprised to hear that the board had changed their plans to reopen schools. After the numerous failed attempts to reach the ears of the school board last year regarding the erratic changes in the grading policy—from the A-F system to pass-fail and back again—just weeks before the end of the school year and without much warning or input from the students themselves, I thought there was little possibility that the reopening plans would be derailed to this extent. And though I have the slightest feeling that this change may have to do with the controversial words spoken by a particular board member a few weeks back and the board’s attempts to rebuild trust with its students and faculty, I am pleased to see students’ direct impact on the course of their education.
However, the question begs to be asked: Is this a prolonged pause? Will we ever go back to school?
“We also want to use this time to plan carefully for the third quarter to ensure our best hope for a successful expansion of our reopening and more general in-person instruction for our students.”
In-person school supporters rejoice; from these words, it seems as though there is still a possibility that in-person instruction could be available as an option in the third quarter. In fact, I would tentatively say that in-person learning is more likely than not in the third quarter. Governor Newsom’s “Safe Schools for All’ Plan “support schools to continue operating safely in-person and to expand the number of schools safely resuming in-person instruction” (https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/12/30/governor-newsom-unveils-californias-safe-schools-for-all-plan/).
However, considering previous notifications and plans that the board has released as well as their expressed intent to “to avoid litigation regarding an expansion of reopening,” it seems as though the in-person option of learning will remain just that: an option. Those who choose to remain at home for medical or other reasons will not be penalized in any way—rather, (considering the district’s previous plan for expansion), it seems as though in-person learning will be an accessory of the already established at-home google classroom environment.
Personal opinions aside, it’s safe to say that these are unexpected times. Our one-year anniversary of quarantine draws closer (only three months to go) and the way things are looking, we are scheduled to end this year in the comfort of our homes, something I think all of us thought ridiculous at the start. No matter how we end the year, whether it is in-person or not, I believe that this will truly be a year to remember.