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Local schools move toward reopening campuses

Local schools move toward reopening campuses


MARCH 1, 2021

by Tracy Salcedo

As cases of COVID-19 continue to decline countywide and vaccination numbers begin to climb, both Kenwood and Dunbar Elementary Schools are gearing up for a planned return to on-campus learning in spring. While reopenings remain contingent on Sonoma County dropping from the most restrictive Purple Tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy to the less restrictive Red Tier, given the trends, and the ability of teachers and staff to receive vaccinations, the outlook is hopeful.

According to Kenwood principal and superintendent Bob Bales, distance learning will continue until all teachers and staff have been fully immunized, which he hopes will occur within the next four weeks. Two weeks after that—potentially by April 12—the school can reopen in a hybrid model.

In this hybrid model, Bales said, all classes will be split in half, with two cohorts for each classroom attending school in person two days a week. Cohort A, consisting of about 10 students, will attend Monday and Tuesday, and Cohort B, a separate set of about 10 students, will attend Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, all students will remain in distance learning.

Once students return, the focus will be on language arts and math, as well as on getting the kids comfortable with being back in the classroom, because, Bales observed, it has been more than a year since students have been on campus.

“We are hoping to salvage nine weeks of in-class learning. That’s the goal,” said Bales.

At Dunbar School, which is part of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, the Board of Trustees approved a plan in mid-February that would allow students in transitional kindergarten through second grade to return to classrooms in a hybrid model, again using small cohorts, starting March 29. Grades 3 through 5 would return, also in a hybrid/small cohort model, starting Tuesday, April 6. Families would also have the opportunity to remain in distance learning, should they prefer.

In a bulletin sent to families, Dunbar principal Jillian Beall wrote, “We are currently hard at work confirming staffing, finalizing schedules, and ensuring that safety and hygiene measures are in place. As we transition to hybrid, it is our goal to minimize disruption to students.”