Most school districts in East County returned to classes in full distance learning mode last week, and while the takeaway on how well it went was mixed, it leaned positive.
Brentwood Union School District (BUSD) started out the gate with distance learning and Zoom links, while Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) soft-peddled into the arrangement with paper packets and plans to begin virtual lessons next week. The Liberty Union High School District won’t begin remote classes until Aug. 10 but recently held “drive-thru” registration, during which time students received material from their cars, getting out briefly to take yearbook photos. And while the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) won’t begin classes until Sept. 1, the district announced Monday this week it will also commence lessons remotely — a change of pace from the plan the district proposed earlier in the year.
“While we had hoped to offer both an in-person hybrid learning program as well as a distance learning plan for students when school starts on Sept. 1, recent health indications — especially as they relate to Gov. (Gavin) Newsom’s guidance for schools — indicate that in-person learning will not be a possibility,” AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello wrote in an Aug. 3 letter.
In her first week back, OUESD teacher Angelina Castaldi of Ironhouse Elementary School said she was inspired by the positive attitude she saw from both parents and students.
“Together, we will make the best of the strange school year,” she wrote on The Press’s public Facebook page. “I am grateful to be working with an incredible group of educators.”
A parent in Oakley, Eleanor Torres Maldonado, plans to remain optimistic and hope for the best, while Laura Valdez in the BUSD said the teachers at Bristow Middle School did an amazing job in making her child feel comfortable and excited.
While some reported good news, others openly shared their struggles.
Jennifer Hunt of Brentwood noted her 8-year-old was having meltdowns due to the stress of school.
“The struggle is real for all,” Hunt said “This is not to say her teacher wasn’t great. She was. It is just an 8-year-old who knows her feelings on a COVID school beginning. My heart goes out to all as we all do the best we can.”
Patricia Pacheco echoed the sentiment, noting that her second-grader was also in tears and would “rather not do school at all.”
“Not a device kid whatsoever, and he struggled to stay focused on his teacher,” Pacheco stated. “Normally, he’s a good student. I’m nervous but trying not to show it. I fear he won’t want to participate.”
BUSD Superintendent Dana Eaton stated that his staff has been working incredibly hard to get the distance learning program off the ground. The BUSD has loaned over 4,000 Chromebooks to students and distributed 350,000 meals since March.
“We are all committed to making the best out of this difficult situation,” Eaton said. “We continue to try and support our students in any way we can.”
“However, our dedicated staff and school community are working together to make the absolute best of this scenario,” Hetrick said. “I am thankful for the patience and flexibility that the OUESD community has demonstrated throughout this unprecedented time.”
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