SAN RAMON (KPIX) – Schools across the Bay Area are facing tough decisions about how to offer classes during the pandemic and one of the most contested was in the San Ramon area.

Tuesday was decision day for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. School officials had to decide what going back to school was going to look like.

“This is one of the toughest decisions we will ever have to deal with,” said board member Rachel Hurd at the virtual public meeting.

The board was grappling with whether to continue remote learning, send kids back to campus five days a week, or create a hybrid system split between in-class and at-home learning.

“Kara” is an emergency room nurse and mother of young twin girls living in the district. She doesn’t see how at-home schooling could possibly work.

“I don’t think being at home with parents that aren’t educated and taught how to do that…I don’t think we can basically replicate that model in our homes,” she said.

But the purpose of keeping kids out the classroom is safety, and not just for the kids.

Carly Owens teaches 2nd grade in the district and said primary school teachers are accustomed to their classrooms being Petri dishes for disease.

“In the 20 years I taught, I only got the flu once before that. And last year I got very sick three times,” she said.

Carly says the district has a lot of older teachers just like her and they are concerned about their vulnerability to COVID-19. She says if that fear causes a lot of them to retire, the district might have trouble finding new teachers.

Did she think there was any safe way to go back into the classroom right now?

“Well,” she said, “my husband said I should get a hazmat suit.”

Board members said they were looking out for the interests of the students and, in the end, voted to adopt a hybrid model, limiting days students would be on campus, for a period of 4 weeks to allow for re-evaluation. But students will also have the option of full remote learning if desired. It is an outcome that will likely anger many parents, which was probably inevitable.

Nonetheless, the decision the board made is, by definition, provisional because it could change with the daily infection rate.

The district says it will hold a special meeting later in the week to work out the details of the hybrid schedules.

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