By Shrida Pandey and Julia Poole, Online News Editor and Online Feature Editor
// With schools now allowed to reopen in Contra Costa County, community members are divided about whether schools should continue with distance learning or return in a hybrid model.
The Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) Governing Board met on Wednesday and unanimously voted to reopen schools in a hybrid model for the second semester.
According to the Board’s current plan for hybrid learning, which is subject to change, the District will split students into two groups that will come to campus on alternating days to ensure social distancing. Each period will be 85 minutes long with 15-minute passing periods to allow teachers to have sufficient time to clean classrooms and materials.
Before making the decision to move to hybrid learning, the District sent out a survey to AUHSD parents to better understand their opinions on distance learning and hybrid learning and found that 78 percent of parents favored switching to a hybrid model over continuing with distance learning.
The hybrid learning model will allow students to interact with their classmates, see teachers, and actually participate in a face to face class. Supporters for the model believe that it will help students’ mental health and their academic performance.
“I think in person instruction is far superior than online. [During distance learning,] you miss the group dynamic and life in the classroom as well as the social and emotional piece of it. [Also,] the way you can engage in person is way better than Zoom,” Acalanes parent Jennifer Crossland said.
Although many community members supported the hybrid model, others expressed concern for student and teacher safety during in-person learning.
“I am worried that even with the limited number of students and masks, the rates of COVID-19 will skyrocket if we return to the classroom. Students will congregate together and will not be social distancing to the extent that they need to,” junior Ella Morris said.
In order to combat the problem, some community members proposed hiring people to patrol the campus and ensure that students were six feet away from each other during passing periods and lunch. However, some believe that this method will not prevent students from breaking social distancing guidelines.
“I think that students will break social distancing guidelines because it will be hard to stay away from friends especially after such a long time apart,” junior Stella Bobrowsky.
Alongside the concern for safety, 12 percent of AUHSD teachers stated they would either resign, retire, or go on leave when the District moves to a hybrid model. As a result, many students’ schedules will change to accommodate for departures and new hirings.
“I think it would be really difficult to go back to school in the hybrid model because it would not only change up our schedules, but we would potentially lose out on classes or teachers we have formed connections with,” junior Zoe Ferrer said.
Despite the Board’s decision to move to hybrid learning, students can opt-out and continue with distance learning at home. However, according to the presentation the AUHSD staff presented to the Board on Oct. 7, it will differ from the current distanced learning model and students will most likely enroll in an online school-approved program.
“Distance learning was very difficult. We have had to experience the loneliness of not being surrounded by peers while figuring out new learning styles and platforms. Now that the District is changing stuff up, it might be harder and more confusing,” junior Mia Grief said.
The District will continue revising the hybrid model, which will be adapted and proposed at the Nov. 18 Governing Board meeting for final approval.
“I think, overall, we need to wait until the next board meeting to hear more about the hybrid model and how the school will keep students safe,” junior Aviruchi Dawadi said.