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Santa Rosa City Schools officially OKs online start

in News/Schools

Santa Rosa City Schools made official late Wednesday what was ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week: All of the district’s approximately 16,000 students will start the school year Aug. 17 with online-only classes.

The 7-0 vote was both expected and nearly ceremonial after Newsom declared last week that no schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list can open for in-person instruction until they have been off the watch list for 14 consecutive days. Sonoma County was placed on the list July 10.

Two days before Newsom’s announcement, Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Diann Kitamura sent an email to parents indicating the district would not offer in-person classes in the opening weeks of school but would re-assess by Oct. 9.

“This is not our choice to go to distance learning,” an emotional Kitamura said Wednesday night. “But it’s something we have to do at this point in time.”

Twenty-two people have died of COVID-19 in Sonoma County, 17 of them since June 28.

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Santa Rosa City Schools, teachers reach tentative deal on return-to-school plan

in News/Schools

Santa Rosa City Schools is expanding its options for online learning in the fall semester as cases of coronavirus continue to rise locally and the prospect of starting the school year with in-person classes appears increasingly unlikely.

Sonoma County’s largest school district is now slated to offer its approximately 16,000 students three main options for the first day of school Aug. 17: Full distance learning, a new project-based online program and a mixture of classroom and online lessons.

The school board last week approved a draft plan to resume classes but is expected to take up a final vote on July 22, presuming the approximately 900-member Santa Rosa Teachers Association approves the agreement in voting that runs until July 21.

“I think we have a good chance to pass it with a strong number,” SRTA president Will Lyon said.

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Reopening plan likely to test Santa Rosa City Schools’ equity policies

in Schools
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

When the 2020-21 school year opens on Aug. 13 for Santa Rosa City Schools’ 16,000 students and 1,600 staffers spread across 24 campuses, it will be extraordinarily different.

It will be different because the coronavirus pandemic has forced health and safety guidelines that prohibit students from being within 6 feet of each other and their teachers. It will be different because most students and teachers will be wearing masks. It will be different because students are likely not going to be on campus five days a week ‒ if they are on campus at all. And it will be different because programs offered to handle the unprecedented pressures of the pandemic will likely not look the same campus to campus.

As Santa Rosa City Schools officials debate a reopening plan at the school board’s regular meeting Wednesday, chief among concerns will be how to provide education and supervision for thousands of students on weekdays when they are not in a traditional classroom, either because of a part-time hybrid schedule or a full distance-learning program.

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