PIEDMONT, Calif. - For the first time in almost a year, in-class instruction was held in some classrooms in the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) on Tuesday, making it the first big school district in Alameda County to have students back in the classroom.
The district began hybrid instruction, starting with Kindergarteners at Beach, Wildwood, and Frank C. Havens elementary schools. The return to classrooms will be rolled out in a staggered model, with first graders coming back on Wednesday and second graders to attend class on Thursday.
Next week, PUSD will be on a week-long break, and then students in third through sixth grade will start hybrid learning the following week starting Feb. 22.
Under the district’s hybrid model, students were being divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with kids having a total of two hours and 15 minutes of in-class instruction, four days a week.
On Tuesday morning, many parents and staff expressed relief to have kids return to school, saying the move was long overdue.
"They are the future," said school crossing guard Winfred Williams. "They honestly deserve to be in school and not at home looking at a computer."
David Emanuelson told KTVU, "This is what they need, and the risk to them are low so I’m all for it. I think it's really a question of what we as a society do to protect the people who are at risk."
The agreement between PUSD and the teacher's union does not require that teachers be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.
On Monday, the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) started working with county health to vaccinate education workers who are under the Phase 1B-Tier 1 group as part of the state’s vaccination plan.
ACOE has stressed that the county has a very large Phase 1B group of some 325,000 people and that the process to get teachers and other education workers vaccinated would take time.
"Meanwhile, the work of reopening our schools moves forward," Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. K. Monroe said in a statement last week, adding, "Alameda County districts and schools continue to plan and prepare for the return of students to in-person instruction on timelines that are specific to public health conditions and the needs of their school communities."
Piedmont Unified was technically the second district in the county to have students return to the classroom.
ACOE officials said Mountain House Elementary School District in rural Alameda County, which has only 15 students, has been back since the fall.