EXCLUSIVE: Bay Area school may have found reopening blueprint

It's not just about the hybrid schedule, but the unique and well-planned structure for when the students are on campus.

Video Transcript

MICHELLE PINNEY: Are we back, those of you on Zoom? Yep. All right, what else did we have?

LAURA ANTHONY: Orinda teacher Michelle Pinney knows all about multitasking to meet the realities of teaching sixth graders in person and remotely at the same time.

MICHELLE PINNEY: The one thing that makes it really manageable is the awesome students that we have. They are resilient. They are flexible. They are patient.

LAURA ANTHONY: We were able to record the class from a safe distance through an open door.

MICHELLE PINNEY: What did they have? A strong, central what?

LAURA ANTHONY: It's an age group all the way up through high school that's proved challenging to bring back in person.

STACY WAYNE: We currently have three cohorts, A, B, and C. The As and Bs are in hybrid, so they come back every other day.

CAROLYN SEATON: It took many meetings. I believe it was over 30 meetings.

LAURA ANTHONY: The plan developed with Orinda's employee unions includes Plexiglas, masks, handwashing, distancing, improved ventilation, and cleaning in every classroom. There's also weekly COVID testing for staff and teachers.

CAROLYN SEATON: This was not about money. We actually got a lot less money from the state and federal government than many other districts and have had to use some additional money that might have gone to supply instructional supplies.

LAURA ANTHONY: Part of the strategy here is to identify which areas of campus not to use. For instance, this hallway is closed to students. They must enter these classrooms from the outside.

- (SINGING) I see you there. I see you.

LAURA ANTHONY: Anything that could be considered higher risk, like choral practice, has been moved outside. Still, for many of these sixth graders, being back in class has been a welcome change.

- It's pretty hard to make new friends on Zoom. That's why it's really convenient to get to go back to school because you get to meet the new friends you made.