San Jose Unified to continue distance learning when school resumes

San Jose Unified School District issued an updated plan on Thursday for what back to school this fall will look like. School officials have decided to continue distance learning for at least six weeks when school begins August 12.

Citing the current resurgence in the spread of COVID-19 in their community and throughout Santa Clara County, school officials said they took teachers' feedback and a community survey into account when making their decision for all students to continue distance learning through October 2.  

"This outcome comes with major disappointments.  We believe that in person instruction, even in a limited capacity, is the best way to serve our students," schools superintendent Nancy Albarrán said in a letter. "We are grieved by the emotional toll on our students from being unable to see their classmates and teachers face-to-face."

The superintendent highlights statistics from the county health department to help argue her position. On March 13, when schools closed, the county reported 47 new coronavirus cases. But on July 8, Albarrán pointed out that Santa Clara County set a new single-day record with 262 new COVID-19 cases. 

Though the school district hoped and planned for students to return to classrooms in the fall, they took precautions to include the possibility of students being fully at home as school resumes. 

"Driven by feedback from our community and with the full support of our teachers, at home learning this fall will be significantly different than the experience last spring," said Albarrán. 

The district has ordered each student an iPad or Chromebook, depending on their grade level and will provide hotspots to families who do not have high-speed internet at home. 

Other technology that has been ordered includes video conferencing cameras for each classroom so the teacher can provide their live instruction. 

The district says they are also working on a "grab and go" meal service that would not interrupt at-home learning. In addition it said support for students, including that of their well being, will be available on the first day of school.