Some California students could go to school only twice a week next year if new model approved

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- It's the question weighing heavily on parents, students and teacher's minds.

What will school look like in the fall?

One California school district has a blueprint of what could end up happening in their system.

"We're looking at 12-15 students in a classroom right now," Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin said.

He said the district is looking at the possibility next year of having middle and high school students come to school two days a week and work from home the other three days.

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Financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to a lack of summer jobs for teenagers, many of whom rely on the income for the upcoming school year.

"Students come for two days, the other half come for two days, and day five in our model would be teacher preparation day," Austin said.

Across the state, districts are closely looking at what can be done to ensure student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many schools are considering having a rotating schedule each day. There would be a morning shift and an afternoon shift for other students as a way of keeping the class size small," California state superintendent Tony Thurmond said.
But residents are concerned about other issues that would arise, if their kids go back to school for only part of the week.

"If we do go back to work, most of us can't afford to have a day care or someone to look after our kids," Ashiyana Begum said.

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Summer usually means parades, hanging at the pool, live music outside, and lots of community activities. Not this year.

Austin said elementary school kids would not be included in his district's possible two-day "at school" week.

"Our goal is to keep our elementary school students with us as much as physically possible," he said.

But they're goals that could change depending on what happens statewide with the virus.

"We're trying to create things that honor the social distancing requirements whatever those may be but don't create a system that is scary for kids, schools should not be scary," Austin added.
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