Carrie Yamato

In a little more than seven weeks, school is scheduled to start on the Peninsula for more than 11,000 students. But unlike the usual beginning-of- the-school-year questions of where’s my locker, will any of my friends be in my classes and who are my teachers, my daughter is dealing with only one looming question:

Am I going to go school in August? 

It’s the million-dollar question or in the school district’s case, a hundred-million-dollar question that we never imagined we’d have to think twice about. Yet here we are, 16 weeks since the closing of schools, and we’re still in the land of the unknown.

That’s not to say the district hasn’t done its part. They’ve formed and are working with steering committees, held a live-streaming town hall meeting where the public could address the board with questions on reopening plans and they sent out a survey gauging the comfort level of parents and teachers. 

As parents of an incoming ninth grader, my husband and I eagerly participated in the survey hoping that our opinions would be taken into consideration in the upcoming decision. Surprisingly, only 3,100 other parents felt the same. In spite of the turnout, here are the results:

  • 85% of parents favored a hybrid model vs. a full-time virtual schedule
  • 63% favored a back-to-normal schedule vs. a full-time virtual schedule
  • 78% agreed to required mask wearing at school vs. a full-time virtual schedule
  • 81% felt comfortable in an outdoor learning environment instead of inside the classroom
  • 30% would need childcare outside of immediate family if the district used a hybrid model

As far as the 407 teachers who replied to the survey:

  • 50% feel comfortable returning to work
  • 62% oppose full-time distance learning
  • 61% would rather teach indoors than outdoors

Given three different hybrid options, the survey respondents preferred the option where Group A students attend school all day Monday and Tuesday and Group B students attend Thursday and Friday with Wednesday as a professional development day.

This is closely followed by the second option where Group A students would attend classes from 8:30-11:00 Monday thru Thursday; Group B students 12:30-3:00 and Friday would be the teachers’ professional development day.

When I showed my daughter the results of the survey, she just kind of shrugged. She didn’t seem excited or concerned.

Maybe she knows the decision is a long way off and she doesn’t want to invest any energy into it. Maybe she’s realized through all her anticipated graduation and summer plans that these days nothing is set in stone. Or maybe she just wanted to get ready to go to the beach. In any event, she was silent. 

Starting high school is fraught with uncertainties.

Going from a private school of 500 students to a public school of 2,600 has upped her apprehension quotient even more. Now, throw in the unknown of where, when and how school is going to be structured, and no doubt it’s going to be a long seven weeks.

But as I constantly remind Taryn and myself, learning to adapt and to go with the flow is one of life’s biggest skills.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has given us a master class in it.

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