MONTEREY, Calif. (KION)
UPDATE 9:46 p.m. - The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will begin the new school year under the full distance learning model.
This was a unanimous decision, 7-0, by the Board during Tuesday night's meeting.
More than 139 comments and concerns from community members were read aloud.
The board presented choices, including variations of a hybrid learning model, fully distanced learning, and a possible delayed start date to the school year.
Parents KION spoke with were most concerned about the hybrid learning option, in which students would spend some time on campus and some time at home.
“My five year old will not wear a mask,” MPUSD parent Kim Mansfield said.
“The numbers aren’t going down," MPUSD parent Jaylen Stein said. "The numbers are going up and I’m not comfortable sending my son to school in that kind of, you know, situation.”
Regardless of the final decision, parents said they didn't think the entire community would necessarily accept the plan.
“There’s no perfect answer for everyone," Mansfield said. "Each family situation is unique.”
Board members said they understood that.
“I remain open to hearing from everyone, knowing that there’s no one right answer,” MPUSD School Board Trustee Wendy Root Askew said.
It's been a long summer for teachers waiting to hear when, and how, they will start up school. "There's a very real lack of comfort with the idea of going back in-person," said Monterey Bay Teachers Association member, Nicky Williams.
Williams is a 9th grade history teacher at Monterey High School. While she said she is open to return to the classroom, many of her colleagues don't feel the same way.
"We have a large percentage who fit into the CDC category of "at risk." I certainly wouldn't say that they should follow suit. I think probably the safest thing overall is to go back online," said Williams.
Through a recent survey, the Monterey Bay Teachers Association discovered the majority of its members want to continue distance learning.
The opposite is felt from parents. Around 75% of Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD) parents opted for administrators to implement a "hybrid" plan. It would allow schools to incorporate half distance and half in-person learning.
"In Monterey County we have 24 individual school districts who are each governed locally by their own board of education. Each one of those districts is having to make really big decisions about what the right way to proceed is," said MPUSD board member, Wendy Root Askew.
Askew will cast her vote Tuesday night at the district's board meeting. One option is to push the decision back entirely and wait to start school until late August or early September.
"There's no one right answer. We're faced with a whole set of options that are less than ideal," said Askew.
Williams said each option will come with its challenges. "I'm hoping as the year goes on, especially if we get a vaccine, that we'll get back to something that looks much more normal," said Williams.