Home Antioch East Contra Costa Superintendents Highlight Concerns With In-Classroom Learning

East Contra Costa Superintendents Highlight Concerns With In-Classroom Learning

by ECT

With Contra Costa Health Services announcing that school districts can have students in k-6 grades return, only 9 of 19 school districts have submitted safety plans. Districts in Antioch, Brentwood, Pittsburg have not yet submitted plans.

County Health spokesperson Karl Fischer confirmed Thursday that K-6 schools can now reopen for in-person instruction in Contra Costa County. Schools that do so are required to submit a safety plan to Contra Costa Health Services. Health Services does not need to approve these plans but can intercede if a plan is insufficient.

These are the districts and schools that have submitted safety plans for which have completed review:

  • Canyon ESD
  • Lafayette USD
  • Moraga SD
  • Orinda USD
  • Walnut Creek SD
  •  San Ramon Valley USD
  • Christ the King
  • St. John the Baptist

Fischer says no plans submitted have been deemed insufficient so far.

Contra Costa County is in the purple tier, however, with a change in the states rules, schools are allowed to reopen for k-6 if the county case rate of 25 cases or fewer per 100,000 residents is held for 5 days.

With San Ramon and Orinda school districts opening, its leaving many wondering why schools in other parts of the county have not yet opened. San Ramon has said just 30% of students have opted to return with 70% opting to continue distance learning.

In speaking with several superintendents in East Contra Costa County, they confirmed they have not yet submitted safety plans because many complex concerns are still preventing them from opening.

These concerns include:

  • Goal Posts from the state in terms of requirements keep changing (at publication of this, the CDC and Gov. Newsom are anticipated to release new guidelines sometime Friday)
  • Vaccine availability
  • Teachers want to be vaccinated
  • Labor union negotiations
  • Teacher/staff safety such as masks and testing
  • Some teachers may not want to return
  • Students will still only be in school just 2-3 hours per day
  • Airflow/filtration system upgrades
  • Shuffling around schools of staff and students

Superintends also highlighted there are major differences between Districts and each have their own set of needs, parent involvement and support. For example, Antioch and Pittsburg have higher rates than most of the county which is impacting their equity index numbers.


Antioch Unified School District

Superintendent Stephanie Anello said Antioch did not submit a reopening plan for the 25/100k case rate. Also like Pittsburg, the case rates in Antioch are, and have been, much higher than the County average. The Health Equity Metric also shows a consistently higher disproportionate rate in Antioch and an average notably higher than other cities in the County.


Brentwood Union School District

Superintendent Dana Eaton said he would love to get students back to school, but there are many variables at play. He pointed to labor negotiations and state rules that keep changing. He also said on Wednesday, the board will hear a presentation by the Brentwood Teachers Association (Page 245)

Eaton also pointed out that even if the board does opt to open the District back up for in-person classroom, it will still be a 2-3 week delay as they need to poll parents and staff on returning, reset teacher/staff schedules, and students might also need to be shuffled around with different teachers.


Mt. Diablo Unified School District

Superintendent Adam Clark explained that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District created a plan and shared it with the Governing Board last night. The plan will come back for final approval at the February 24th Board meeting.

The District is also working through other items that are preventing them from opening at the moment as although Contra Costa County is moving into the Red Tier, there are still cities/communities with high infection rates. Due to these high rates, families, staff and community members have varying comfort levels related to returning to in-person instruction. Daily class schedules, staff assignments and labor agreements all need to be completed.

Clark further highlighted the difference between school district as he noted each District is governed by a different Board. Priorities may be different throughout the county.


Pittsburg Unified School District

Superintendent Janet Schulze explained that they did not submit the reopening plan for the k-6 25/100k cases. The case rates for COVID-19 in Pittsburg have been consistently much higher than the County average this entire time and most of the city of Pittsburg is identified in the State’s Healthy Places Index/COVID-19 Health Equity Metric. Because of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the community, the Board confirmed my recommendation that we use the case rates for Pittsburg to inform our reopening status. The majority of the community is supportive of this approach. We continue to prepare our facilities and finalize our plans for when we are ready for a phase-in reopening.


K-6 School Reopenin:  Understanding School Reopening (Via Contra Costa Health)

Contra Costa County is currently in the Purple Tier. Schools may not reopen for grades 7-12 while in the Purple Tier. Schools serving grades K-6 may reopen for in-person instruction in the Purple Tier if the adjusted case rate has been less than 25 per 100,000 population per day for at least 5 consecutive days and the school has an approved COVID Safety Plan. Local school officials will decide whether and when to reopen once these criteria are met.

Click to learn more about tier assignments and metric details.

Click to learn more about the school reopening guidelines.


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Robert C. Feb 12, 2021 - 10:34 am

The bottom line of the “difficulties” cited by these superintendents is no surprise: the obstructionism of the teachers’ unions which want everything perfect (as they define it). Well, there is no perfect in life and the childrens’ education and well-being continue to suffer while the unions wait for perfect. Is there some risk of Covid-19 spread? Yes, but it is low and public health authorities have considerable statistical evidence of that. Simple masks and social distancing procedures are effective.

Public health authorities are best qualified to make the call as to when risks are acceptably low to permit the resumption of in-person classes, even if it is initially limited to certain grades or hybrid-style methods. Unions are incompetent to make those determinations.

Candace Feb 12, 2021 - 10:58 am

No disrespect to the teachers, but give me a break. Doctors, Nurses, Grocery store workers and even big box store employees have all had to adjust and make changes. So can teachers and staff. Send them back now. Most other states are back.

Robert C. Feb 12, 2021 - 12:25 pm

You are correct, Candace, not to mention emergency responders, logistics workers, transportation workers, utilities workers, telecom workers, postal employees, etc. etc. who have all continued to work since the pandemic began. But apparently, teachers are such delicate doilies that they can’t work in person. What started as school closures out of caution for the children has become continued closure due to union intransigence.

LuckytobeinByronDistrict Feb 12, 2021 - 2:00 pm

I’m so proud of the Byron School District, this small district has done all the above to get a return plan in place. Hard working district, teachers and staff wearing multiple hats to pull this off. Thank you Byron for seeing the big picture!

Lizz Madere Feb 12, 2021 - 4:00 pm

Thank you for acknowledging Byron. We are ready to go back. It has not been easy but Byron Teachers have worked with our district to get prepared, planned, and ready.

Roger Feb 13, 2021 - 6:30 am

While I agree. The sheer amount of whinny parents are pathetic. Schools will open but they need to be safe which we can do. I have no sympathy for impatient parents who can’t bother to actually be with their kids. Grow up pathetic losers and he patient as if anyone of you idiots are smarter than the teachers. most of you brain dead moron stop reading after high school why would we listen to you.

Joy cloude Feb 14, 2021 - 8:26 am

Roger… what a bizarre comment. Spewing hatred only proves ur ignorance. You claim those who want their children to go back to school are brain dead but your poorly written post was filled with spelling errors, making no logical sense.
Maybe these “brain dead parents” want their kids to go back because they aren’t smarter than a teacher. Maybe they want them to go back because they see their kids failing to grasp concepts taught on zoom, with close to no interactions with their teachers to ask questions. Or perhaps parents want their children to go back because it’s healthy to be amongst peers, outside the house, and being active.

Personally, I’m not sure why teachers think they’re above going back to work when literally every other profession has.

Michael R Sagehorn Feb 14, 2021 - 10:48 pm

If you look at the math of likely carriers of Covid, teachers fit in a different high risk category. Presuming you teach elementary school, your class size is between 28-34 students. Each day for estimate purposes, those same children likely come in contact with two to five other possible infectors. They come into your classroom with likely exposure to 84 to 140 Covid carriers. In high and middle school with student loads of 150 students, presuming the same contact opportunities, the risk of exposure climbs to 380 to 600 contacts. Police officers, fire fighters and even medical professionals- many who are tested frequently, don’t have this level of exposure to Covid carriers. The profession has a significant number of middle aged individuals over 55 (I’m 61), who are susceptible to long term effects of contracting the virus. Teachers prefer in-person instruction, but until we are in a “green tier” distance learning makes more fiscal and operational sense.


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