Mt. Diablo schools poised to reopen all schools for hybrid learning by end of March

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District will reopen all of its schools by March 29 -- and March 25 for students in grades 2 and under -- with a hybrid model of distance learning in the morning and a couple of days per week on campus in the afternoon for students whose families choose that option.

All of that is dependent on members of the MDUSD teachers' union Mt. Diablo Education Association ratifying a tentative agreement on a memorandum of understanding announced by both the union and district Tuesday after about 80 hours of bargaining over five days, including 19 hours straight from Monday morning into Tuesday before reaching the agreement at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The MDUSD Governing Board at a special meeting Tuesday evening discussed the latest developments in the efforts to reopen the district, which serves students in the cities of Clayton, Concord and Pleasant Hill and parts of Martinez, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Lafayette and Pacheco.

If the MDEA and other district labor unions ratify the agreement, the board will finalize the reopening plans at another special meeting on Friday.

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Superintendent Adam Clark at Tuesday's meeting thanked parents for their patience and district and labor negotiators for coming to an agreement after prolonged and contentious negotiations that delayed the district's initial target date of March 22 to reopen by a few more days.

"I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel," Clark said. "With vaccinations happening, with tiers improving in the county, and with the committed adults within this district, we will do the best we can to serve your students."

   The district last month had sent out a survey to families offering two options for the rest of the school year: continue with 100 percent distance learning or participate in the hybrid model that includes morning distance learning and coming to class two days a week in the afternoons for in-person support.

Of about 28,000 responses, about 52 percent chose to remain in 100 percent distance learning and 48 percent chose the hybrid model, and the 61-page MOU released Tuesday lays out specifics on health and safety protocols, schedules and other details of the hybrid model.

Board President Cherise Khaund said, "We have much, much work to be done to move this into action" at the district's campuses and allow students to see each other in classrooms in person -- 6 feet apart -- after a year of virtual learning.

"To make that eye-to-eye connection, face-to-face between people ... that is the thing that has been missed the most," Khaund said.

The MOU jointly released by the district and MDEA can be accessed online here. 

Around the Bay Area, other schools are beginning to return to class, too. At least partially.

This week, elementary school students returned for hybrid instruction in the Alameda Unified School District, where a mixture of in-person instruction with online instruction and independent work.

Berkeley Unified elementary school students will soon be returning to campus five days a week, though the plan doesn't include older students. 

Similar deals for elementary school students, although with less on-campus time, have been reached between districts and teachers' unions in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. 

Like the Mt. Diablo district, Pleasanton Unified schools are welcoming back all students – including middle and high schoolers – back to campus.

KTVU contributed to this report.