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Wealthier districts in San Francisco Bay Area are more likely to have resumed in-person instruction

Feb. 11, 2021
An analysis by a regional news agency concludes that children from families of average or lower incomes are more likely to remain in online learning.

Public schools that have reopened in the San Francisco Bay Area are mostly in the wealthier districts, an analysis by the Bay Area News Group has found.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that school systems serving children in big cities, or children who come from poor families or families of average means, remain in online learning, generally considered to be inferior to in-person instruction.

The News Group surveyed public school districts in some of the Bay Area’s largest counties — Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin — and found that 100% of school districts with 2019 median household incomes of at least $200,000 offer students some in-person instruction.

In districts with median household incomes of $150,000 to $200,000, 40% have reopened. But the percentage fell to 16% in districts with median household incomes of $100,000 to $150,000, and to just 12% in districts with median incomes of $100,000 or less.

On Wednesday, students returned to classrooms in Saratoga, joining peers in the wealthy communities of Los Gatos and nearby Los Altos and Palo Alto.

Meanwhile school kids in San Jose remain at home, receiving lessons online. The median household income in the Saratoga Union School District is $195,784 in 2019, according to latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. In San Jose Unified, it’s $108,893.

Many private schools have long ago reopened their campuses while most of California’s more than 6 million public school students receiving instruction online. In San Francisco, 113 private schools reopened while the city’s public school district remains in remote learning.

The rich-poor disparity is concerning to researchers who have already raised alarms about data showing significant learning loss among Californa'’s poorest students during the pandemic.

The reopening of public schools has triggered a debate among families, teachers, health experts and politicians about the safety of resuming in-person instruction.

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