The first day of school started with distance learning for students in both districts after one of the longest and possibly hardest summer breaks in generations.
In Riverside, parents can choose virtual or home-based learning. The virtual option is 100% online learning with live interaction each day. Home-based learning allows the parent or guardian to serve as the instructor. Students will check in for weekly and monthly meetings with their assigned teacher.
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For 11th grader Gabriel Petty, he is learning from home just like other students at John North High School in Riverside.
"I think technology-wise he's got it down, I think it's been a challenge for him more emotionally," parent Nicole Petty says. "He misses school, he's in the marching band, and so socially I know it's been a real challenge for him."
She says just getting the schedule down is difficult.
"A lot of it today was trying to teach them how to navigate the computer by themselves, how to mute, how to unmute, and how to respond when they're asked a question," said parent Valerie Weathersby. Her child attends Emerson Elementary.
Weathersby says she's able to work at home because she's a call center employee, but it's not working out.
For the school district it's been complicated by passing out 27,000 Chromebooks since the start of the pandemic.
"We have 42,000 kids in our district. Making sure everyone has what they need for the first day of school has been challenging," said Tim Walker, assistant superintendent for Riverside Unified.
Chino Valley Unified students also began virtually. The next phase will allow students to opt into a blended learning program, which involves in-person classroom instruction two to three days per week.
Until then, everyone is at home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says nearly 340,000 children tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic and the numbers rose 40% in the last two weeks of July.
Early research indicates that children are less likely than adults to become severely ill by the virus.
For Southern California schools to reopen in person, the district's county would have to remain off of the state's watch list for 14 consecutive days, meaning coronavirus positivity rates and hospitalizations would have to remain below a certain level.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District is set to begin Aug. 18.
For the latest news on back to school and educational resources, visit abc7.com/backtoschool.
For the latest updates and resources on the coronavirus, visit abc7.com/coronavirus.
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