November 16, 2020 — Coronavirus infections are rising again in Mendocino County, but for the moment, schools are still eligible to reopen for in-person instruction. The Ukiah Unified School District board met Thursday night to discuss the plan. The board voted last July to authorize Superintendent Deb Kubin to decide which option to implement.
If the county is still in the red tier on December 1, the plan is to bring transitional kindergarten and first grade back to school on December seventh for two half days a week on a staggered schedule, and distance learning for the rest of the week. Older students through the eighth grade would phase into the hybrid model later in December, and high schoolers would come back in January, also on the hybrid plan. Parents can opt out of the hybrid model and stick with all distance learning if they still don’t feel safe. The teachers union advocated for waiting until after the winter break to bring any students back.
Thirty-five people signed up for public comment during the meeting, and most of them made it through, in spite of the YouTube lag. The stakes in the matter could not be higher, and opinions broke into roughly three groups: those who are watching infections and deaths climb and want to hold off on in-person instruction; those whose children are breaking down mentally from isolation and desperately want to go back to school; and those who believe the hybrid model is not a good enough alternative to take the risk and do the work to roll out.