PLEASANTON (CBS SF) -- Public schools in Pleasanton on Thursday will become the first in Alameda County to open middle and high schools for in-person instruction.
The Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) said its six middle and high schools would reopen Thursday, joining nine elementary schools which have already reopened. Students in K-2nd grade returned to school last week while grades 3-5 returned on Monday.
The schools reopening are Amador Valley High School, Foothill High School, Village High School, Hart Middle School, Harvest Park Middle School, and Pleasanton Middle School.
PUSD said the move to reopen schools comes after the county Public Health Department's announcement of entering the Red Tier which allows for all schools to open for in-person instruction.
Alameda County's adjusted daily case rate is at 4.8 per 100K with a testing positivity rate of 1.8 percent and a health equity quartile of 2.6 percent.
"As we look forward to Thursday, I am grateful for our secondary site admin teams, as well as their teachers, staff and parent volunteers, who are working together to be ready for students," said Superintendent David Haglund in a press statement. "I am incredibly proud of us. Specifically, how we all have come together - to show up and to be there for our students in a time of great need. It's the US in PUSD that makes Pleasanton a place that inspires students to make a better world."
PUSD said families in the district also have the option of keeping students in remote learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
Haglund said 55% of the students will be coming back on campus in a hybrid mode.
"Once we started to realize that these cohort sizes of the returning students really was doable within the state guidance, it was really full court press. We need to do this because so many kids were struggling," Haglund said.
Jeff Hopkins, a Pleasanton Unified parent, told KPIX 5, "It's not a panacea to just go back in person. This hybrid thing is something new."
While this is a big step for the district, UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi said a full return to school is long overdue.
Gandhi recently addressed the struggles and the science behind a safe return to school in an op-ed in USA Today.
"There is not room for fear anymore to dictate us going back to places like schools," the doctor told KPIX 5.
Gandhi cites data that shows children are at low risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and viral spread is minimal in schools. She also says there is no science to support mandating 6 feet of social distancing and would like the CDC to adopt the World Health Organization's recommendation of one meter, which is roughly 3 feet.
That could help public school districts accommodate a full time return to school now as the country waits to be vaccinated.
"All the mitigation procedures can relax once all the adults are vaccinated and we don't need to wait for children vaccination to get back to full in-person learning," Gandhi said.
KPIX 5 reached out to the Association of Pleasanton Teachers for their perspective on a return to school but did not hear back.
for more features.