Just weeks into the new school year, the region’s largest school district has extended its distance learning until 2021.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make as a district because we know in-person instruction is the best way to serve our students, and we are deeply disappointed that the conditions in our community do not allow us to safely bring our students back to school campuses at this time,” District Superintendent Nancy Albarrán said in a letter to families late Wednesday.
The district pointed to both COVID-19 case data, what it called “inadequate testing and contact tracing,” and logistical issues. Santa Clara County continues to prohibit most indoor activities.
“We cannot reconcile how a school classroom differs from other indoor gatherings,” Albarrán’s letter read. The letter also cited consistency, with 60% of teachers and parents preferring a single approach for the semester.
To improve student success during the extended distance learning period, the district is taking a number of new steps. This includes 5,000 new Chromebooks, improved training, and technology support. Families can now request technical support on the district’s website, with dedicated tech support for each school.
The district said it is giving stipends to teachers for supplies to facilitate distance learning. The amount was not disclosed in the letter.
Students will also have access to greater emotional and social support systems. The district developed the programs from a questionnaire earlier this year. Families and students desiring greater support can work with the district here.
Albarrán also praised the county’s effort to expand testing capacity in the region, announced Wednesday.
“We believe this order will increase the success of slowing viral transmission and allow for additional activities, including bringing students back to campus.”