On Oct 20, the Tracy Unified School District had a special board meeting in which the decision was made to open all of Tracy schools to the public in January 2021.Schools will open on Monday Jan. 4, 2021.
Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases in San Joaquin County, which as of Oct. 28 has reached 21,988 positive confirmed cases, the school district has deemed it safe enough for students K-12 to return to school. If they return, the students will be in a setting in which they are surrounded by other students whose household sanitization and number of residents is unknown.
Tracy high school Millennium High is allowing students to decide whether to attend in person classes of the teachers who have made the choice of moving their online classes back to campus. Attendance is limited to a capacity of only 25% of the school population allowed entry at once.
According to the Tracy Unified School District School Site Safety Plan, “TUSD will implement a Hybrid Model to ensure small cohorts of students.”
The TUSD has planned for two groups of students with each group having two assigned days out of the week in which they will actually be stepping foot inside their school, while the other three days are continued as virtual classrooms.
Students are not only exposing themselves and putting themselves at risk, but putting those in their home as well.
Junior math teacher at Millennium High Rebecca Ulricksen said she was concerned at first learning about the quick decision to allow students to go back to school in person.
She said she was, “Immediately overwhelmed and a little anxious. On one hand, I began worrying about the spread of the virus in the school. We do not know who these students go home to. We do not even know who our own staff goes home to. My son had open heart surgery when he was a baby, and his heart is a little different than a normal heart, and that worries me for if I was to bring COVID-19it home.”
Despite looking forward to being able to see the faces of her students again, she worries about having a son who is of high risk to COVID-19. She believes that teachers including herself are already taking on a lot and this feels like the weight is only going to get heavier. Many believe that the school district could have come up with a better plan, including Millennium High history teacher Dan Saldate.
He said, “Having students returning to in person school would not have been my first choice. However, the decision has been made, and I am determined to do the best job I can do for my students returning and those students who decide to remain online. I think it will be a challenge to teach both at the same time ,but I am up for the challenge and will do my best to ensure students get the best instruction I can provide in this situation.”
Making the best out of this situation is what teachers have been doing since virtual school began.
Most professors at Las Positas continue to work from home as LPC previously announced that virtual classrooms will continue into the semester of spring 2021. How will a campus home to thousands of students manage to keep social distance and adjust to many modifications. Perhaps staying online for another full year is what both students and professors prefer. Rushing into opening public schools can result in outbreaks and COVID-19 hotspots.
Ana Delgadillo is a staff writer for The Express. Follow her at @aaanakd.