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Milpitas
Monday, January 24, 2022
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COVID-19Over 90% of Milpitas Unified students are learning remotely this week

Over 90% of Milpitas Unified students are learning remotely this week

In response to the omicron surge, the vast majority of students in the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) have opted to stay home and receive synchronous learning online this week. 

After students and staff returned from Winter Break on January 3, school sites were overwhelmed with rising case numbers and staff shortages. MUSD’s data from last Thursday revealed that over 10% of students across the district were absent. Test kits were running out and staff members were overwhelmed, scrambling to find ways to cover classes. 

In an effort to help stop the spread and create a safe learning environment for students and staff, MUSD found a creative solution – they decided that they would ask parents to sign an Independent Study Contract, per Assembly Bill 130, to allow their kids to stay home and learn remotely for the week of January 10. Not only that, but all students would be on the same bell schedules, with their teachers present online and teaching. 

An initial message from the Office of the Superintendent which went out to families on January 7 stated that “ALL MUSD SCHOOLS WILL BE PLACED ON A 10-DAY DISTRICT-WIDE QUARANTINE.” The quarantine was to last from January 10-January 17. Families were asked to sign the Independent Study Contracts to initiate the process.  

But after consulting with Santa Clara County Office of Education’s County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, the district discovered that it could not legally call for a quarantine; it’s something that only the County and State are able to do. MUSD also realized that they had to make something abundantly clear: Families had to know that they were the ones in charge of deciding whether or not to keep their children at home to learn remotely, based on the risk to their health and safety. 

With this in mind, MUSD sent out new messaging to district families on January 8, letting them know that the in-person option would still be available to them, should they choose not to sign the contract.  

After the new message was sent out, many parents took to social media, unsure about whether or not they could still keep their children home to learn for the following week. Families were further confused by headlines from local media outlets stating that MUSD had reversed their decision and that Milpitas schools would remain open after all. 

MUSD teachers and principals spent hours on the phone last weekend, clarifying the situation to parents. 

This past Monday, teachers began the process of teaching students remotely. Over 90% of students in the district have been learning from home. Students who opted to go to school in-person also attend virtually via chromebooks. 

Data reported at yesterday’s MUSD Board of Education meeting shows that attendance rates have spiked across the district. 

Last Thursday, the attendance rate was at 92.79%. But this Monday showed a rate of 97.18%. At yesterday’s board meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan attributed the change in attendance to the fact that staff and students who are quarantining can still get access to learning. 

The Beat spoke on the issue to Devi Sreepada, a parent of two Curtner Elementary School students. Sreepada praised the school district for their hard work and for coming up with a solution that would allow her to keep her kids safe at home this week, while still learning. 

“It’s been going remarkably well,” she said. “The teachers are there all through the day. And I feel like my kids are getting exactly what they would get in-person.”   

 

 

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Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works mostly with nonprofit organizations and educational entities to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also the author of Fierce Woman: Wake up your Badass Self. Her YouTube channel features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a student at Milpitas High and have siblings at middle and elementary schools. I can assure you that “in-person” learning did NOT happen. We showed up to school and we weren’t allowed to interact with our teachers. We all just sat at our desks while the teachers were “teaching” remote online like this article said. It was pretty sad and most of my teachers let us log out early. Students, teachers, and parents were confused with all the flip flop. They were tired of being online too. My siblings in the elementary school was to do “independent study” after “lunch”. No one is really learning much. Lot of pretending.

  2. I agree. This was not billed as the “parent’s choice.” We were told explicitly that all learning would be remote – even if we decided to send our kids. Enough with the kids being the first line of defense against a Covid surge. Kids need to be in school. Every study shows this. Remote learning should be a last resort – not the first in stopping community spread.

  3. When parents asked for clarification through email to see whether we can bring our kids to school, we were given a phone call by the principal highly discouraging us to bring students in. She said that “if you care about your student’s health, you should go virtual but will need to sign the independent study contract.” What parent doesn’t care about their child’s health? Super insulting and manipulative from the Superintendent down. Neither the teacher nor the principals would put anything in writing. Super shady. Two of my kids had subs and really didn’t learn anything, Google Classroom was a desert, and it felt like my elementary kids’ teacher just gave up. They were only on for 2 hours and were told to go on independent study the rest of the day.

  4. Milpitas Taxpayers – there should be an outrage! I tried to turn in documents at the school and there is a notice they are closed. Tried the district office. They are closed too! In talking with some other parents, they are saying all staff is taking a mental health day. When does our board and superintendent have the universal right to take our hard earned dollars and pay people to rest??? Imagine that happening to any of your jobs. My boss doesn’t let me take days off just so I can rest my mind?! Must be nice to get paid to rest. I appreciate the work but there comes a point where resting everyone just for the sake of providing time off and refresh should not be accepted. Use your own money and vacation time to do that. This is not fair for hard working parents. MUSD staff constantly gets raises, rest time, and asks for more taxpayer money for parcel tax and bonds. Why don’t you take the money from resting and put it towards spending it for our students? Looking at the comments, students didn’t learn much. Mine didn’t either but was going to give them a pass until I found out they are all resting with our money. Let’s recall all the board members. They work for us and shouldn’t be spending money this way.

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