Some South Bay schools with small class sizes reopen

Santa Clara County is half way through the two-week requirement in the state's "red" tier before schools can reopen without a waiver.

But several school districts say the current COVID-19 case rates and ongoing concerns about large gatherings have them skeptical about opening anytime soon.

While more smaller and mostly private schools continue to reopen with waivers.

Monday, Primary Plus Elementary School in San Jose welcomed dozens of students back to the classrooms.

The schools says 192 students have come back to campus, while 102 are continuing with the school's distance learning program.

"This is not something that any of us have done before. It's definitely kept ourselves on our toes," said principal Michelle O'Hara.

Primary Plus is one of 36 campuses and five school districts in Santa Clara County given a waiver and allowed to re-open under strict new guidelines.

The largest class at Primary Plus has 13 kids in it.

From required masks to staggered drop-off times and temperature checks, there are a lot of changes.

And teachers are doing double-duty as they teach via Zoom on the computer to the children at home, while at the same time teaching students in the classroom.

"That's one of the things my teachers...really strive to work towards is making sure both sets of students, the at-home and in-person students, still feel part of that classroom," said O'Hara.

Meanwhile more than two dozen school districts in Santa Clara County are still grappling with how to move forward.

The largest, San Jose Unified, plans to announce later this week its plans for October and has been surveying families.

"I think from our perspective, it seems right now the majority of our parents are preferring to keep their students at home and continue with distance learning," said San Jose Unified School District Public Information Officer Jennifer Maddox.

She says its reasonable to expect some form of distance learning will be part of the school year for some students and certainly for some teachers.

The committee to reopen schools in the Gilroy Unified School District met Tuesday to resume the process to try to answer many outstanding questions.

"We have a lot to consider before we talk about bringing children back to our schools," said Deborah Flores, the superintendent of Gilroy Unified School District.

Flores notes Gilroy has the second highest rate of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County.

"I'm going to be recommending a cautious, slow approach. Just because Santa Clara's in the red tier now, doesn't mean it's going to stay in the red tier," said Flores.

She says when you look at the timeline for resuming classes in-person, they're only at the very beginning.