OAKLAND (KPIX) — Oakland Unified and its teachers’ union are still trying to reach an agreement over how much remote learning will be conducted live, versus lessons that are pre-recorded.

With details like that still up in the air, how do school principals prepare for Day One, now just hours away?

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They’re trying to be flexible.

“You kind of have to be, right?” asks Kilian Betlach, principal at Elmhurst Middle School. “So we are trying to create a schedule that is going to be able to accommodate whatever we hear as a final agreement, maybe whatever is coming out as an interim agreement.”

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Betlach says he has always had a good bit of freedom within the Oakland system. While that can present challenges it has allowed him to prepare for the coming year with his school’s specific needs in mind.

“At Elmhurst, we have a disproportionately high number of folks who don’t have Internet access at all, stable Internet access,” Betlach explains. “So we really had to dig into what a no-tech or low-tech plan might look like for young people.”

When the pandemic and remote learning landed on schools in the spring, no one had much of a plan. Betlach says that experience and, more importantly, a full summer of preparation will make a difference in the fall.

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“There’s no question that we’re in a better position than we were in the spring,” he says. “We have a team of educators who basically
worked all summer. We started working the last week of May, took a week off the first week of July and then kept working every week all
summer to put forth structures, schedules, plans, professional learning, making sure that the instructional program that we are offering for kids and families will be far superior to the kind of do-the-best-you-can model that we had in March and April and May.”