If all goes according to the Sacramento City Unified School District’s plan, some of the area’s youngest students could be back in classrooms in early April. The district put forth its plan to reopen campuses for in-person learning through a phased-in approach.
Students in grades K-3 would return April 8 and those in grades 4-6 would return on April 15. Meanwhile, middle and high school students would return May 6, but only if Sacramento County is in the state’s less-restrictive red tier — which indicates substantial community spread, but allows some businesses to reopen at lower capacity.
The county is still in the most restrictive purple tier.
Under the plan, students would return to school in groups, and campuses would have no more than 50% of students at a time. Students would attend in-person class two days a week, and do virtual learning for the other three days.
Parents could opt out of having their kids return to classrooms and continue with virtual learning for the rest of the school year.
Students on campus would be physically distant, and plexiglass barriers would be installed in the library and school cafeterias. The district has also already begun installing new ventilation systems to prepare for reopening.
David Fisher, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, the local union that represents about 2,500 educators, said the district’s plan looks promising. But the union has yet to discuss the details with the district, including those involving ventilation systems.
“Essentially there’s some common points, but there’s also some sticking points,” Fisher said. “And the main one I think of is on the issue of ventilation — about making sure that the students are safe based on scientifically-sound ventilation systems.”
The district said that it is installing vents that “constantly cycle outside air through indoor spaces” and will continuously run the heating and air conditioning “so that no air is stagnant in the classroom.”
“The air is constantly moving, recycling, and refiltering to be the best it can be indoors. We’re also installing the highest rated air filters possible,” the district said on its website.
For now, Fisher is taking solace in the fact that educators are beginning to be vaccinated. More than 1,000 teachers, staff and adiminstors in Sacramento were vaccinated for COVID-19 at the county’s first clinic for inoculating educators last week. Fisher said the county is set to vaccinate more educators every week.
If the county can continue to vaccinate roughly 1,000 educators at their clinics every Friday, Fisher said that could mean teachers and staff who have to work on-site could receive both doses of the vaccine before students return.
“That assumes everything keeps going the way it’s going and that the right staff is getting vaccinated, meaning the ones who are working directly with the students,” he said.
With plans at the state and local levels to bring younger students back first as well as their teachers, Fisher said “we gotta make sure those educators are vaccinated.” Governor Gavin Newsom last week announced the state would set aside 10% of its vaccine allotment weekly for educators starting March 1.
Fisher said the union and the district are expected to meet next week to negotiate.
The school year ends June 17.
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