With over 1,000 viewers watching, the Board of Education voted last night to authorize a plan to return to school, with younger grades starting this month and secondary schools starting in January.

The board voted, 5-0, in favor of returning to school, while the two student representatives voted against the motion, although their votes are just preferential.

“I do think it’s really important that we offer this option [hybrid learning], as we said all along, we were going to offer it on Oct. 12, if we were able to,” board member Jennifer DiBrienza said. “And I’m glad we had the health department here to talk to us and to talk us through this.”

Teaching every child and helping them reach their full potential goal means doing our best to get them back to school.

— Ken Dauber, board member

Although the vote was unanimously in favor of approving the plan, many of the school board members were conflicted due to the strong majority of the teachers not supporting the plan. Board member Melissa Baten Caswell voiced her concerns about the teachers’ lack of comfort with the plan.

“I’m still really troubled by the fact that we’ll probably have at least 60% — maybe higher — of parents who want their kids to come back, and have a report of some very big number, over 80% [of teachers who do not want to return],” Baten Caswell said.

Board member Ken Dauber was more certain in his decision to authorize the plan to return.

“Some students are thriving with distance learning, but many students are not thriving — they struggle with attention, they struggle with distractions, they struggle with lack of social contact and they struggle with lack of resources at home,” Dauber said. “Teaching every child and helping them reach their full potential goal means doing our best to get them back to school.”

Parents of PAUSD elementary school students will be receiving an email today that gives them a choice of hybrid learning or full distance learning for their child. For those that choose distance learning, there is the possibility of another option to return to in-person learning in January.