Board president, community members provide insight on LASD reopening


Marie Godderis

LASD has begun its in-person return to campuses, starting from first grade.

The Los Altos School District (LASD) has begun having students physically return to campus, with grade levels up to the first grade having already returned within the past month; the remaining grade levels are set to return within the coming months. 

But the process has not been smooth sailing. Reopening dates for multiple cohorts have been delayed by as much as several months for higher grade levels, a potential concern for many parents. However, Board President Brian Johnson claims that these delays have been due to administrative snags, not health concerns. 

“Well, when we made the announcement that we were sending kids back we had many parents switch programs — either on campus to online or vice versa,” Johnson said. “I mean, of course we were expecting changes, but we had almost 10–12 percent of all our students make the switch. That’s also why you see the switching dates have been reduced to only once or twice a semester.”

Johnson expressed confidence in the hybrid model the District chose to adopt, stating that even some in-person instruction would be valuable for many students. As such, the District will continue to use the hybrid model, to the disappointment of parents such as Dmitry Shkolnik, whose daughter attends Egan Junior High. Shkolnik had concerns about the benefits of just two days on campus compared to staying fully online. 

“I am aware of this model, and I am strongly opposed to it,” Shkolnik said. “I believe the health risks will be roughly the same as in a full in-class model, especially for the teachers…This would be also a huge disruption for the families with younger kids and arranged child care. Changing it to accommodate a different schedule on different days may be difficult.”

Additionally, Johnson provided insight on the District’s plan in the case of health concerns due to the pandemic, specifically relating to what would occur if there were positive coronavirus tests within the district. 

“If there was only one case, we would not close schools, but I’d really have to refer you to the county guidelines with that,” Johnson said.

With students returning to school, parents have varying levels of both satisfaction with the District’s handling of distance learning and confidence in the District to properly handle the reopening of campuses. 

Parent Anant Kadiyala expressed satisfaction with the district throughout distance learning as well as their communication during reopening, though he has himself chosen to keep his son enrolled in the online program. 

“I do feel that there was a bit of poor communication at the start, but I think overall they have done a good job handling online learning,” Kadiyala said. “Everyone is new to this and I think they’ve done a fine job.”

Kadiyala did say that his family ultimately decided to keep their student enrolled in the online option, but commended the District for providing the in-person option for families.

When asked about the District’s decision not to close campuses if there was a positive test, Kadiyala declined to comment on the matter due to lack of experience, though he did express concern at Johnson’s comments earlier in the year stating the District believes younger students are less affected by the virus. 

Others, such as Shkolnik, do not have as much faith in the District. In particular, Shkolnik expressed concerns over the state’s color-coded COVID tiers being out of sync with reality. 

“What we see now is that the restrictions are being relaxed while the new daily cases continue to grow country-wide,” Shkolnik said. “I am pretty sure the schools won’t open in full this school year unless the political reasons prevail. Of course, the mass access to an approved vaccine would be a game changer.” 

Anika Sikka contributed to this report.