The Byron Union School District Board voted 3-2 to begin the school year with full distance learning at a special meeting held Friday, July 10.
The motion passed despite ‘nay’ votes from president Sue Vineyard and vice president Eva Pahl. The board also voted unanimously to move the school start date from July 28 to August 10.
During the Zoom meeting, which ran over 4 hours, the board allowed extensive comments and questions from the more than 200 members of the public who chimed in.
After the public comment period, Superintendent Reyes Guana presented the board with his plan to reopen schools safely. He noted the return plan was not put together in a single day, but over the course of six weeks, with input from stakeholders and medical professionals, as well as the county health department.
The public comments varied between requests for school to reopen safely, and those who preferred to keep students at home, where they would be less likely to spread or contract COVID-19.
Discovery Bay resident Amanda Dove asked to board to listen to the many parents who were pushing for students to continue their education in the classroom rather than exclusively at home.
Other parents noted bars, churches, movie theaters and museums were still closed, therefore, schools should be also.
Board member Melissa Ortiz-Gray asked for the board to outline a time frame to consider bringing students back to a hybrid schedule which would divide the student body into A and B days.
“It was clearly stated by all of us that we don’t want to enter into distance learning for the year, no one wants the students away from campus and the direct interaction with staff,” she said. “I think it’s appropriate to set a timeline on when we feel we can re address this topic.”
At board member David Turner’s suggestion, the board agreed to discuss the possibility of having students in the classroom with a hybrid schedule at each board meeting, which are generally held twice a month.
Vineyard ended the meeting with a positive statement about the resourcefulness of the community.
“Discovery Bay and Byron has always been a ‘can do’ community,” she said. “Despite what you may be feeling this evening, we can all move forward in a respectful way that makes this possible for everyone.”