District delays return to in-person learning


(Samantha Nichols)

By Jake Cohen

The Tamalpais Unified High School District (TUHSD) has extended distance learning through the entirety of the first semester, with a plan to return to campuses on Jan. 6 using a hybrid model. In an Oct. 9 email sent to district families, the administration attributed the decision to local COVID-19 risks, negotiations with teachers unions, and keeping learning plans in sync with other Marin County schools of similar size.

“The decision to remain in distance learning for the fall semester is based on maintaining safety for staff and students as well as the continuity of learning and live instruction,” district Superintendent Tara Taupier wrote in the email.

According to Marin’s Health and Human Services Department, the number of COVID-19 cases across the county has been steadily dropping in recent weeks. The weekly average amount of tests conducted has seen a slow decline as well, with just over 600 per week as of Oct. 9. The transition to a hybrid model is dependent upon Marin County improving its COVID-19 numbers, by maintaining a test positivity rate of 2 percent to 4.9 percent for at least three consecutive weeks, and the district’s ability to implement all of the necessary measures to keep students and staff safe. Taupier stated that the decision to extend distance learning was influenced by the uncertain public health landscape the pandemic has created. “While learning in the distanced model is not ideal, there are no ideal solutions that will meet the needs of all students at this time,” Taupier said. 

The announcement also kept in line with changes made by other public school districts such as Acalanes and Palo Alto, which have decided to delay in-person instruction until early January. 

In the announcement, the district specified its intention of implementing a “hybrid model” in January for students who wish to return to campus. This format would involve students attending school both online and in small, masked, and socially-distant cohorts on campus two days per week, supplemented by distance learning the remainder of the school week. 

“I understand how incredibly difficult this has been on all of us, especially our students who are missing out on seeing friends and engaging fully in school-based activities,” Taupier said in the Oct. 9 email. “We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to campus and are working diligently to ensure our staff and campuses are prepared to safely meet the challenges of in-person learning during COVID-19.”