Parents Rebel Against California High School’s Plan to Open for One Hour a Week

Lowell High School San Francisco (Wikimedia Commons)
Wikimedia Commons

After months of strict coronavirus restrictions, school officials want to open two California Bay Area high schools for one hour a week, and parents are responding by planning a protest on Friday.

The two high schools at the center of the debate serve some 3,500 students who live in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the development:

Under the plan for Los Gatos and Saratoga high schools, one cohort of students would come in from 9 to 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, and the other would come in from 1 to 2 p.m. the same day. The plan would allow students and staff to safely return to campus and have time to learn safety protocols and transition to hybrid learning, Superintendent Michael Grove said an email Tuesday to The Chronicle.

Amy Obenour, president of the Los Gatos Saratoga High School District Teachers Association, said in a statement Tuesday:

“No one wants to be back in classrooms with students more than educators, who know there is no equal substitute for regular in-person learning. Phase 3A is the first step to safely bring students back to campus. Our team is working collaboratively with the district to ensure when we bring more students back, we need to do it in a manner that ensures the health and safety of all students and staff.”

Suzanne Nestor has a daughter in ninth grade at Los Gatos High School and serves as a leader of a parent coalition pushing for reopening. She called the plan “absurd” and a “total joke” in the Chronicle report:

It’s a slap in the face to parents desperate to have kids on campus for months now. They keep saying they want to give kids a chance to get back on campus, but one hour a week is useless. What kids need is regular social interaction with their peers. You would spend as much time getting to and from campus than you would spend being there.

“There is still no plan as to what the students will be doing on campus for this one hour a week,” said Mike Roberts, who started a parents group to push for reopening and has a child at Los Gatos High School. “It’s outrageous.”

Kristofer Orre, a teacher on special assignment in the district, said the hour-long sessions were for “social and emotional community building activities,” to reinforce topics difficult to do virtually, and to run hands-on activities.

But even the five-hour a week plan isn’t a certainty.

“This plan would be implemented only after either Santa Clara County moves to the state’s red reopening tier and all staff have the opportunity to be vaccinated at the recommended doses, or the county moves into the orange tier, in which case staff vaccinations would not be a condition,” the Chronicle reported. “The district would provide at least two weeks’ notice to prepare for returning to campus.”

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