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Schools Prepare For Possibility Of Distance Learning In Fall

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Despite some recent progress toward getting kids back into classrooms, educators are planning on the possibility of remote learning this fall.

There have been some promising signs. The San Francisco Unified School District reached an agreement with its teachers union over the weekend about when and how to reopen. And Oakland teachers have been cleared, as of yesterday, to get vaccines. But after seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year. President Joe Biden has made reopening schools a top priority, but administrators say there is much to consider as new strains of the coronavirus appear and teachers wait their turn for vaccinations.

While many parents are demanding that schools fully reopen, others say they won’t feel safe sending children back to classrooms until vaccines are available to even young students. The nation’s top public health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said late last month the Biden administration hopes tobegin vaccinatingchildren by late spring or early summer. By then, districts will be deep into preparations for the next school year.

West Contra Costa Unified School District, for example, is planning a new K-12 Virtual Academy for 2021-22. A recent agenda item before its Board of Education read: “One thing that we have learned during the pandemic is that teaching and learning is now different, and it will not fully be what we used to think was `normal' ever again."