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'A first step:' Mountain View Los Altos school board approves $1.2M to bring student groups on campus

Trustees eager to move to next stages of reopening schools

The Mountain View High School main quad is empty during the last week of school on June 2, 2020. The Mountain View Los Altos school board is moving forward with a plan which would allow students to go to their campuses, where they will continue to learn online — just from inside a classroom, with masks and social distancing, and supervised by a teacher, substitute or volunteer adult. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union school board on Monday allocated $1.2 million to offer more in-person support to students, a plan that will go into effect after Santa Clara County moves into the red tier of coronavirus case rates.

This means high school students who opt in will soon be able to go to their campuses and see classmates, but they will still be learning online — just from inside a classroom, wearing headphones and masks, socially distanced from their peers and supervised by a teacher, substitute or volunteer adult. The district refers to this model as "stable groups" or learning hubs, which is distinct from hybrid learning that mixes virtual and in-person instruction.

The budget includes money for classified staff, substitutes and additional technology support, custodians and campus supervisors.

Trustees supported the additional funding but expressed an eagerness to move beyond this first, limited stage of reopening as quickly and safely as possible. The budget was allocated for 12 weeks — much longer than they said they want to be in this phase.

"I shudder to think if we have to do this for 12 weeks," said Trustee Phil Faillace. "We have to accelerate somewhere in this. If we're going to be in red (tier) for 12 weeks, we just can't keep doing this for 12 weeks. We have to move on to something that does a much better job than we expect to get from this."

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Staff defended the plan, saying it allows students to establish new routines by going to campus, learn in a distraction-free environment and safely see their peers while not changing their current distance learning schedules or teachers. Local high schools, where virtually every student has a unique class schedule, are all puzzling through the daunting task of how to reopen for hybrid learning. Offering in-person instruction also hinges on negotiating working conditions with the teachers union, which has criticized both the stable group and hybrid learning models.

Under the district's phased reopening plan, first seniors would come back once a week, then other grade levels gradually over the next two weeks in stable groups that don't mix. By the third week, all grade levels would be able to be on campus one day a week. This timeline could be accelerated if more staff and substitutes are available to supervise the groups. (The district is also looking to increase substitute pay to entice them.)

Students will be grouped by common class or by a common support need. Campuses will be separated into "zones" so students from different groups don't share bathrooms or eat lunch in the same areas.

Board members also expressed support for allowing students to move from classroom to classroom while online learning, which Superintendent Nellie Meyer warned would require additional staffing, funding and an acceptance that student schedules would have to change.

Some students and parents questioned the value of spending money and effort to only allow students to Zoom from classrooms. In a district survey, 60% or more of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors said they would come back to school once a week if conditions safely allow it. But those numbers dropped when the district explained the current option, which is more like study hall than a classroom experience.

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"All I'm seeing is there's a change in setting but the circumstances and the situation is still the same," Los Altos High School student Fehi Lotoaniu told the school board. "The reason why I want to be going back to school ... is to be talking and interacting with teachers."

Other students and parents worried about approving this stage of reopening without a plan for fuller in-person learning, and how that transition will work.

The trustees, who held a special study session on Monday afternoon on reopening, plan to meet again at the end of the month in anticipation of public health conditions continuing to improve and schools being able to reopen more fully. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also expected to release new school reopening guidelines later this week.

"This is just a first step, and we know we need to look at other models," said Trustee Debbie Torok. "I don't think it's a waste of time to do it … (but) we need to set the plan for what we're doing next."

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'A first step:' Mountain View Los Altos school board approves $1.2M to bring student groups on campus

Trustees eager to move to next stages of reopening schools

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 12:29 pm

The Mountain View Los Altos Union school board on Monday allocated $1.2 million to offer more in-person support to students, a plan that will go into effect after Santa Clara County moves into the red tier of coronavirus case rates.

This means high school students who opt in will soon be able to go to their campuses and see classmates, but they will still be learning online — just from inside a classroom, wearing headphones and masks, socially distanced from their peers and supervised by a teacher, substitute or volunteer adult. The district refers to this model as "stable groups" or learning hubs, which is distinct from hybrid learning that mixes virtual and in-person instruction.

The budget includes money for classified staff, substitutes and additional technology support, custodians and campus supervisors.

Trustees supported the additional funding but expressed an eagerness to move beyond this first, limited stage of reopening as quickly and safely as possible. The budget was allocated for 12 weeks — much longer than they said they want to be in this phase.

"I shudder to think if we have to do this for 12 weeks," said Trustee Phil Faillace. "We have to accelerate somewhere in this. If we're going to be in red (tier) for 12 weeks, we just can't keep doing this for 12 weeks. We have to move on to something that does a much better job than we expect to get from this."

Staff defended the plan, saying it allows students to establish new routines by going to campus, learn in a distraction-free environment and safely see their peers while not changing their current distance learning schedules or teachers. Local high schools, where virtually every student has a unique class schedule, are all puzzling through the daunting task of how to reopen for hybrid learning. Offering in-person instruction also hinges on negotiating working conditions with the teachers union, which has criticized both the stable group and hybrid learning models.

Under the district's phased reopening plan, first seniors would come back once a week, then other grade levels gradually over the next two weeks in stable groups that don't mix. By the third week, all grade levels would be able to be on campus one day a week. This timeline could be accelerated if more staff and substitutes are available to supervise the groups. (The district is also looking to increase substitute pay to entice them.)

Students will be grouped by common class or by a common support need. Campuses will be separated into "zones" so students from different groups don't share bathrooms or eat lunch in the same areas.

Board members also expressed support for allowing students to move from classroom to classroom while online learning, which Superintendent Nellie Meyer warned would require additional staffing, funding and an acceptance that student schedules would have to change.

Some students and parents questioned the value of spending money and effort to only allow students to Zoom from classrooms. In a district survey, 60% or more of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors said they would come back to school once a week if conditions safely allow it. But those numbers dropped when the district explained the current option, which is more like study hall than a classroom experience.

"All I'm seeing is there's a change in setting but the circumstances and the situation is still the same," Los Altos High School student Fehi Lotoaniu told the school board. "The reason why I want to be going back to school ... is to be talking and interacting with teachers."

Other students and parents worried about approving this stage of reopening without a plan for fuller in-person learning, and how that transition will work.

The trustees, who held a special study session on Monday afternoon on reopening, plan to meet again at the end of the month in anticipation of public health conditions continuing to improve and schools being able to reopen more fully. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also expected to release new school reopening guidelines later this week.

"This is just a first step, and we know we need to look at other models," said Trustee Debbie Torok. "I don't think it's a waste of time to do it … (but) we need to set the plan for what we're doing next."

Comments

Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Feb 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Feb 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Wow. $1.2M for still "virtual" schooling. I suspect teachers will be sequestered in the lounge. If I were a parent, I'd probably be looking into charter, voucher, pods, or home schooling. Just about anything is going to be better than what taxes are already paying into the public school system.


Pensive Parent
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:37 pm
Pensive Parent, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:37 pm

This plan sounds so privileged. So they are hiring subs to stay in the class with kids while teachers teach from home? That doesn't make it any safer; it just pushes the risk to someone else. Why not do what Palo Alto is doing and just have the teachers actually teach from those rooms instead of a sub, even if it is remotely to those not in attendance? Is the classroom duty being pushed to subs b/c they don't have a union? That seems like a waste of money as now we are paying a teacher and an on-site supervisor.


Richard
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Feb 19, 2021 at 6:51 am
Richard, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2021 at 6:51 am

It's a good idea to reopen schools, as while the remote study students meet a lot of problems. Now we get too many home assignments, and it's hard to cope up with them. Recently I tried to order a paper from HandmadeWriting, but when I read their review Web Link I understood that the service is not reliable, the customers` feedback is not the best, so I need to look for another company for my home assignments.


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