The Redwood City School District will start the school year with distance learning until at least the end of the first trimester, which is in November before the Thanksgiving break, the Board of Trustees agreed Wednesday.
The plan will be brought before the Board again on Wednesday, July 22, for its consideration and final adoption, according to district officials. The state might make that decision for them, however. On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce new guidance on the return to school this Fall that could override decisions at the local district level.
Since May, RCSD has been crafting reopening proposals for next school year with help from a committee, several subcommittees and parent engagement. One proposal was a hybrid model where students spend two days at school and three days at home to facilitate smaller class sizes, while the other was a 100-percent distance learning model.
A recent, ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted school districts statewide to pull back on proposals to reopen campuses. At this point, not enough is known about the virus’ impact on children in terms of illness or their potential as carriers and spreaders, according to RCSD.
Trustee Janet Lawson said her decision was based on science and data, and noted the virus’ disproportionate impact on minorities.
“We do not know the chronic long-term effects on those who have recovered,” Lawson said. “We only have six months of anecdotal evidence and the outlook on those cases does not look good.”
Lawson added that studies indicating children are at low risk of infection or being spreaders are incomplete.
“The reality is, these studies all took place after schools around the world had already shut down,” she said. “Children were already in protected environments so we simply do not know what the epidemiology would have looked like. At the end of the day, I was not elected to gamble with people’s lives. I was elected to advocate for the health and safety of our students, staff and community. I believe that if we were to reopen, at this point even in the hybrid model, there will be loss of life. And even one is too many.”