Orinda educators wary of reopening schools for in-person learning as COVID-19 cases surge

Orinda educators are facing a fork in the road. Their schools are set to open for the next academic year in a month. But at Monday’s special board meeting, some teachers expressed concerns about returning to in-person learning. 

A handful said they have turned to their physicians to get letters excusing them from classroom attendance.
“I think there are some that have already obtained doctor's notes. And my belief that others will obtain doctor’s notes,” said one attendee. In response, the president of the Orinda Education Association told KTVU “We’re worried with hearing that it’s not safe to go into gyms and hair salons, and other ndoor places. Then is it safe to go into classrooms?"
Charles Shannon said teachers in high-risk groups would be offered the option to do distance learning. So far only a small number have taken that route. 
“The letter would have to be such that, the member truly would be health compromised by returning,” said Shannon.
Experts say the vast majority of children do not become infected with COVID-19 and of those that do, it’s rare for them to pass on to an adult.
“Children are much less likely to get it. And it appears they’re less likely to spread it, based on some limited data. For those over 10, the risk goes up,” said Dr. Jake Scott, an infectious diseases expert at Stanford University.
While some Western nations have reopened schools without a spike in cases, others are seeing a resurgence of the virus. Experts say there isn't enough data to say definitively there would be no child to adult transmissions.
“Israel just reported that their second wave of the virus, which has come back much like the US, started about two to three weeks after they opened their schools. And they believe their school reopening led to a resurgence of the virus,” said Dr. Mark Schwartz, a biotechnologist at San Jose State University.
Orinda education officials plan to meet on either Friday or Monday to decide if schools will reopen on Aug. 13 with in-person instruction, distance-learning, or the hybrid model. 

Surrounding school districts are opting for distance learning, which union officials said may influence their choice.