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Anaheim Union High School District taking cautious approach in return to in-person instruction

Anaheim Union High School District leaders are cautiously examining a pivot to in-person instruction in mid-October, but might wait until early January depending on local health conditions, Superintendent Michael Matsuda said Thursday, Sept. 3.

Orange County’s fifth-largest district, which serves grades seventh through 12th, begins its second quarter of instruction in the middle of next month and starts its second semester in early January – both potential points for changing how students are learning.

“We have to be really careful about reopening,” said Matsuda, whose district of 30,000 students is almost a month into distance learning.

Matsuda said the district is monitoring the results of coronavirus testing sites at Magnolia and Anaheim high schools. The two locations reported 18% and 15% of tests coming back positive, respectively, as of Aug. 30, Matsuda said. Reports are made weekly.

Those returns are well above the state’s target positivity rate of 5% over 14 days.

“It’s still dangerously high,” Matsuda said of local trends.

He said his district also will monitor how Labor Day weekend affects the numbers, along with what districts that begin holding in-person instruction after Sept. 22 experience.

“It’s a huge unknown,” he said.

When Anaheim Union does pivot, the district will operate using a hybrid model to follow social distancing mandates. Students will continue with distance learning on Mondays and Fridays, but will be divided into three groups for in-person instruction on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. One group will attend in-person classes on Tuesday while the other two will split the next two days.

No more than a third of any school’s population will be on campus at one time.

Matsuda said the model is necessary to allow for social distancing in classrooms that would typically feature 36 to 39 students.

“I believe in reopening,” he said, “but we have to be responsible.”

Matsuda said the district’s attendance during distance learning has been about 95%. The district has distributed roughly 7,000 Chromebooks and 7,000 to 8,000 internet hotspots at the cost of about $3.5 million.

The district’s high schools include: Anaheim, Cypress, Katella, Kennedy, Loara, Magnolia, Savanna, Western and Oxford Academy.

Source: Orange County Register

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