As state guidelines have shifted to allow schools to begin reopening, officials said nearly every district in Sonoma County is offering either hybrid or in-person learning. But each district is making their own decisions about how many days and hours children are at school for the few weeks before summer.
Smaller districts like West Mark Union brought all grades back five days a week for half days in late April. Superintendent Ron Calloway said upping staff and re-hiring retired teachers was key. He also says the district was able to implement a reopening plan fast after being directly affected by the Tubbs fire, that caused three weeks of canceled classes and evacuations in 2017.
"The staff understood what this was going to mean for us and how we would always be flexible," Calloway said.
Tracy Smith, superintendent of Rincon Valley school district in Santa Rosa, said avoiding disruption was a big factor for their district. Smith says the district expanded from a hybrid model and started bringing younger students in the classroom five days a week for a half days. But older students are returning four days a week for a couple hours for PE and art classes in an effort to keeps students with their original teachers.
"We choose to have the continuity and the stability for the kids to stay with their teachers in the same classroom, in the same time frame for the last five weeks of school," Smith said.
Many parents have demanded more in-person instructions leading up to summer break while a smaller number have remained in distant learning. County officials said every district should return to in-person instruction in the fall if case numbers remain low.