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COVID: New Safety Protocols Await Students, Parents On First Day Of School In San Jose

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - The first day of 100% in-person classes for San Jose Unified is Wednesday, August 18 and safety measures will be in place to try and keep everyone healthy.

Parents and students will notice significant changes to their daily routine, compared to classes back in the Spring:

  • no more distance learning;
  • masks will be required indoors and outdoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status;
  • no more social distancing;
  • plexiglass in the classroom is optional;
  • no more temperature checks upon entry.

    Parents must still fill out a 4-part questionnaire every morning before class and there will still be staggered drop-off and pick-up times.

    San Jose Unified, the largest district in the South Bay, has adopted new quarantine protocols in accordance with state health department guidelines. Students who test positive must quarantine for 10 days. Students who are considered "close contacts," defined as those who were within 6 feet of the infected student for more than 15 minutes, can return to class with a negative COVID-19 test, but must continue to test negative every other day for the following 10 days.

    Since the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the vaccine for children 11 years old and younger, there is no vaccine mandate for younger students.

    About 95% of district employees have received the vaccine. Unvaccinated employees must get tested twice a week.

    Jayela Cobb, an incoming 7th grader, said she will not miss distance-learning.

    "I am excited for school, to meet new people," said Cobb.

    LaRoy, Jayela's father, said Zoom classes allowed his family to spend more time together, but says in-person classes is where kids belong.

    "Because they're interacting with children their own age, getting out of the house, and just being around friends and seeing different cultures, different lifestyles. You don't get to see that as much when you're in the house," he said.

    Students who do not wish to attend in-person classes must sign up for "independent studies," which is administered through the district's Liberty Alternative School campus. On Monday, the district conducted check-ins, providing laptops for older students, and iPads for younger students.

    A total of 550 students have enrolled for independent studies, 330 of whom have done so for medical reasons.

    Jennifer Maddox, San Jose Unified School Public Information Officer, said independent studies is vastly different from the distance-learning that was offered on a widespread basis in the 2020-2021 school year.

    "And so it is a large portion of the day that students going to be working independently. For the really young ones, they're going to need parental support in order to be able to stay on task and complete that work. They will do daily live instruction and interaction with their teacher and their classmates, but it is going to be a very different model than what we had in the spring," said Maddox. "We can't choose just to turn on distance-learning and let people stay home, because it's not something they educational code is allowing for the school year."

    Aracela Guzman says her son Jesse has severe asthma and is too young to get the vaccine. They have signed up for independent studies, and will try to make it work until the shot is available for him.

    "I feel real bad for him, because he wants to go back to school to meet his friends and everything. But we gotta wait until we get the shot for him," said Guzman.

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