Some 38 first graders are set to return to Ormondale Elementary School on Monday, Oct. 12.
The San Mateo County Office of Education gave the Portola Valley School District approval on Thursday, Oct. 8, to resume in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a district email to parents.
The district, which serves about 500 students across Ormondale (transitional kindergarten to third grade) and Corte Madera (grades 4-8) schools, is taking a phased approach for reopening.
Kindergarteners and transitional kindergarteners will return the week of Oct. 19, while second and fourth will begin on-campus instruction on Nov. 2. Third and fifth graders will follow, starting on-campus instruction on Nov. 9.
The district's hybrid learning model means students will do some learning in person and some at home.
Thirteen first graders will continue with full-time distance learning, said Superintendent Roberta Zarea in an email.
The county moved out of the most restrictive purple or "widespread" risk tier to the red or "substantial" tier on Sept. 22. Since the county has stayed in the red tier for two weeks as of Oct. 6, all TK-12 schools in San Mateo County are allowed to reopen, so long as they develop a reopening plan, have a testing plan in place for staff, and use an incremental approach to reopening, according to the San Mateo County Office of Education website.
The Portola Valley district joins the neighboring Menlo Park City School District, which reopened for in-person kindergarten and first grade instruction on Sept. 28.
The district announced at a July 24 board meeting that it would start the fall semester, which began Aug. 21, fully online.
Notably, the district teachers union, Portola Valley Teachers Association, submitted a letter to the board July 25 which strongly expressed that it did not want teachers and students to return to campus during the pandemic.
The teachers union could not be immediately reached for comment on the reopening plan.