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The Knightsen Elementary School District (KESD) Board unanimously voted to begin the new school year on August 3 with full distance learning, and eventually hoping to move to a morning and afternoon schedule when deemed safe.

The vote came at a special meeting of the board on Wednesday, July 8, streamed live through YouTube and attended by 115 viewers. KESD Superintendent Harvey Yurkovich first presented the board with a reopening plan he and KESD staff had created for the school. The plan included a start date of July 27 or 29, and divided the student body into two cohorts, with one group coming from 8 to 11 a.m. and the second group from 12 to 3 p.m. There was also a 100% distance learning option for students and families who were high risk.

After he presented the plan, Yurkovich admitted he could not in good conscience support it, considering the county’s rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“I have to recommend we begin the year with distance learning, and once this thing levels off, we bring the kids back to school,” Yurkovich said to the board. “This may be the unpopular decision, but I will always err on the side of caution. So that’s my recommendation to the board.”

There was back and forth discussion between the board, and Yurkovich answered questions about the plan the district had created to bring students back to school. In the end, they agreed the tough decision was the safest.

Board member Thomas Baldocchi pointed out the risk did not only lie within the schools.

“I think that our school is small enough and we have the PPE (personal protection equipment) in place and a good plan, but we could have someone who legit has (COVID-19) come back to the kids and those kids could show up to school tomorrow and, being exposed to it, could bring it into our school district,” he said.

A recording of the board’s meeting, as well as all material presented, are available on the district website at https://www.knightsen.k12.ca.us/.

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