A California school district that has elected to operate in a 100% virtual capacity because of COVID-19 concerns has adopted a seemingly counterintuitive approach to schooling this fall by also announcing a day care program where students can attend online classes and complete schoolwork in a physical classroom.
What are the details?
The South Pasadena Unified School District in Los Angeles County announced earlier this month that, in accordance with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders, it would implement a distance-learning model to begin the year and continue that model indefinitely.
In subsequent communication on its website, the school district reiterated that "schools will be physically closed at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, and all students will participate in 100% distance learning."
Yet soon after, in an effort to assist working families in need of child care, the school district also announced the implementation of an extended day care program for students up to eighth grade.
According to a document detailing the program, the district said that families will be able to drop their children off at schools between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and that while there students will be supervised and provided with time to complete their schoolwork.
Up to 12 students will be allowed in individual classrooms.
The document adds that the district will be "requiring all students and staff to wear masks, ensuring social distancing, frequent sanitation of rooms, and all other County guidelines and protocols to help keep staff and students safe."
TheBlaze reached out to the South Pasadena Unified School District for clarification on the school's reopening plans and extended day care program, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
It begs the question
The seemingly counterintuitive move begs the question: If the school district can safely operate a day care program with up to 12 students in individual classrooms, why can't they conduct in-person classes?
In a tweet about the news, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson wrote: "So, look, on the one hand the district deserves credit for trying to help working parents ... but could there be more obvious proof that closing the schools is nothing more than a cave to [Randi Weingarten] and the gang? It is impossible to be too cynical."
Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation's largest teachers unions, which in recent weeks has fought against the physical opening of schools. On Tuesday, Weingarten authorized AFT members to strike if their schools go forward with reopening plans that don't meet AFT's exhaustive criteria for safety.
An an updated guidance on schools reopening issued last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that while faculty and staff may be at some risk, "the best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms."
The guidance also said that "the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant."