Pope Valley Union Elementary School District will open four weeks earlier than originally planned, on July 20, the board of trustees announced Friday.
The district said it was trying to get as much in-person learning as practical before a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the fall or winter. The district said the earlier start will allow for extended breaks in classes and a transition back to online learning if need be.
“After two months of teaching online, we have seen that students and staff are becoming less enthusiastic and productive with online school. I really noticed it about week six,” said Ken J. Burkhart, Teacher/Principal/Superintendent. “We hope that by having multiple breaks, students and staff will be able to recharge.” The district operates a single school that serves students up to 8th grade in rural northeastern Napa County. It serves more than 50 students.
It is the first district in the county to announce specific plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
The district said in a press release that it recognizes that the earlier start might pose a complication for many parents and staff. The decision came after extensive discussion with both groups.
“It was clear that many wanted to return at the normal time, while many wanted to start early. Several were in the camp of wanting to split the difference and open only two weeks early,” Burkhart said. “In the end, the board decided to start as early as possible, recognizing that due to COVID fears several students may not return to campus, no matter what the start date.” Board president Paul Kimsey said the trustees are “committed to hearing from the community as we move through these trying times. The board felt ensuring students were in school for as much time as possible was in the best interest of the community.”
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