December 9, 2020 — Bullis Charter School resumed in-person classes for middle schoolers last week, with students across all grade levels now back on campus at least part time.
The school has brought students back in groups by grade level, with sixth- through eighth-graders resuming in-person classes Dec. 2. Families have had the choice of whether to send their kids back or stay fully remote, with roughly two-thirds opting to stick with online learning. Those figures are roughly the same across grade levels, Superintendent Maureen Israel said.
Rising COVID-19 case counts throughout the county have led to renewed restrictions on many sectors, but schools that were open before Santa Clara County moved into the state’s highest risk tier last month have been allowed to continue operating in person. Because BCS had already begun to bring back grade-level groups, it is allowed to continue.
The middle schoolers who opted into in-person learning are coming back on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while continuing to learn from home the remaining three days. Students are each assigned to a single stable group they remain with throughout the school day.
Many classes are being conducted in person, including specialist subjects such as PE and drama. However, math and foreign language classes are remaining remote, because there are too many different levels that students are split among to be able to maintain stable groups, Israel said.
Students in younger grades had already resumed in-person classes earlier this fall, with fourth- and fifth-graders in a similar part-time model, while kindergarten through third grade students are back five days a week.
Teachers and administrators are working to ensure that students who opted to stay fully remote are at the same place in the curriculum as those who are back in person.
“The aim is to keep all students at the same pace, at the same level, active in the same curriculum,” Israel said.
Thus far, BCS hasn’t seen any students test positive for COVID-19. One staff member recently displayed possible symptoms, but tested negative for the virus. Administrators are closely watching as cases rise throughout the county, Israel said.
If the governor or health officials were to order schools closed, Israel said she believes BCS would be able to use the experience it gained before it reopened to pivot back to fully online learning.
“If we had to go back 100% remote, I feel really confident with the skills of our staff … that they’d be able to make that adjustment very quickly,” she said.