SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A surge in new COVID-19 cases and the results of a survey of teachers and parents has convinced San Jose Unified School District officials to begin the upcoming academic year on Aug. 12 with students learning remotely.

In a letter to district parents released Thursday, Superintendent Nancy Albarran said it was a difficult decision to make, but the only prudent course of action given the current situation.

“We believe that in person instruction, even in a limited capacity, is the best way to serve our students,” she wrote. “We are gravely concerned about the widening opportunity gap, with our most vulnerable students disproportionately affected by not being able to attend school in person.”

“We are grieved by the emotional toll on our students from being unable to see their classmates and teachers face-to-face,” she added. “We also accept the reality of our situation.”

Last week, the San José Teachers Association told the district that teachers would not provide in-person instruction in August because they feared for their safety amid the current rise in cases.

So district officials launched a campaign to survey parents and teachers to gain an understanding of their desires for the start of the school year.

Some of the key results were:

  • 54% of parents responded that they will have a student attend school at home on
    August 12 based on what they know today
  • 81% of teachers supported at home instruction for students on August 12 on what they know today
  • 80% of all respondents were willing to commit to their decision of in person or at home instruction for the entire first half of the school year
  • 26% of all respondents support being assigned to a school location other than their
    normal one for health and safety reasons

“Given the current spread of the virus in Santa Clara County, the position of our teachers, and the results of the community survey, San José Unified has concluded that the best possible next step for reopening schools on August 12 is fully at home learning for all students for at least the first six weeks of the instructional calendar,” Albarran wrote.

The earliest in-class instructions would begin would be on Monday, Oct. 5th.

“We know this will be an incredibly challenging effort for all of us, especially with the circumstances around us changing so
frequently and unpredictably,” Albarran wrote. “We appreciate your support, patience, understanding, and your strict adherence to public health orders. We all want to get back to school, our activities, and life outside our homes. The surest way to do that is to heed the advice of our medical professionals.”

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