It might be summer now, but those behind the scenes of education haven’t stopped examining ways to bring the Tri-Valley’s students back into the classrooms. It’s no small task in these trying times.
Following ongoing guidance from the State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond and, more directly, Alameda County Public Health Department and Alameda County Office of Education, the Tri-Valley’s leaders must weigh their options. But even these options feel slim when taking into consideration funding cuts and increased demand on teachers.
Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore school district families and staff recently participated in surveys to indicate how they’d like to return to the classroom. Of the options to consider, the schools looked at a full return to school, continued distance learning, a hybrid model with limited time in the class or independent study — a model that would see students meeting with their teachers on a weekly basis, while mainly conducting their schoolwork at home. Those who responded to the surveys in Pleasanton and Livermore seemed to favor a full return to school or a hybrid learning approach. Dublin’s district was roughly split in thirds on the first three options.
While the surveys help to highlight preferences of those willing to take a survey in the first place, there are still largely unanswered questions looming overhead. Hopefully, schools will continue to consider how the return will impact families or whether the surveyed choices will even pass the sniff test at a county level.
If Alameda County Public Health Department is unlikely to allow more than 15 children into the class at one time, the first option of a full return doesn’t really seem like an option. Perhaps an a.m./p.m. schedule, with half of the students attending in the morning and the rest in the latter portion of the day, would be a stronger offer to health officials who are calling the final shots.
On continued distance learning or a hybrid model, the districts certainly can’t afford child care for working parents with no means of educating their children. But the schools could squirrel away funding for added support to help identify academic challenges and close the gap in education for children who aren’t doing well under these circumstances.
If an independent study approach were taken, the students might benefit from more frequent one-on-one meetings with their teachers.
While there is no clean-cut answer and the variables seem to change daily, recognition of the hard work put forth by administrators, staff and even community members to deliver choices is certainly due.