EXCLUSIVE: A California school district will vote this Thursday on whether to move forward with a controversial hybrid plan that excludes only seventh graders or to nix in-person learning altogether.
The Oak Grove School District, located in San Jose County and only comprising K-8 schools, has been holding distance learning since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, a parent told Fox News.
Last month, school board members came up with a hybrid plan where students will spend half of the week on campus and the other half distance learning – that is, everyone except seventh graders, who will spend the rest of the school year learning from home.
The decision came during a March 11 school board meeting, following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of a $6.6 billion package aimed at supposedly accelerating the safe return to in-person instruction across the Golden State.
The board members proposed that the school day schedule consists of cohorts, whereby one group – Group A – will go to campus Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while a second group – Group B – will be learn from home. Those two groups will switch for Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, all students will check in virtually.
The date for this proposed hybrid model would begin with kindergarteners and first graders on April 26th, followed a week later by second graders and third graders, and so on. This would presumably go on until all grades – except seventh graders – are following the hybrid model.
Per the terms of AB 86, school districts must have at least one grade back on campus to qualify for stimulus money. The board voted to exclude seventh graders and allow eighth-graders to come back on campus with the idea they needed some experience on campus before going off to high school as freshman.
The school board determined at its March 11th meeting that schools would have a difficult time enforcing safety guidelines if both seventh and eighth graders were back on campus during in-person days.
Alicia Harville is a parent of a child at an Oak Grove school. As a medical assistant who has been working nine months with no vaccine around COVID-positive patients, she has chastised the school for not holding serious discussions on in-person learning until January and February.
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“I’ve been able to protect myself and my family and my 75-year-old mother who lives alone, following the safety guidelines from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the county public health department,” she said. “So, I don’t understand why we’re moving so slowly and we’re still not back in school at all.”
Harville said she understands the fear and apprehension that some teachers have about resuming in-person learning, but “you still ultimately have a job to do, and your job is teaching the kids.”
This Thursday, the Oak Grove school board is expected to vote on whether go forward with the proposed A/B hybrid model or nix in-person learning altogether for the remainder of the school year, sources tell Fox News.
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Jorge Pacheco Jr., president of the Oak Grove Board of Trustees, told Fox News that the district will be hosting a virtual information night on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s vote.
“Personally, I support allowing 7th graders to participate in our hybrid program and I hope the rest of the board feels the same way on Thursday,” Pacheco said in a statement.