With more than 500 students testing positive for the coronavirus and teachers present in less than half of the classrooms, Hayward Unified School District will close in-person instruction for at least a week starting Monday and host distance learning classes.

By switching to distance education, the Alameda County Central District stands to lose $ 2.5 million per day in per-student funding if distance education does not meet state requirements, said Administrator Ken Rawdon in an emergency online meeting Friday, although he supported the decision. The board voted 4 to 1 to suspend classroom teaching, then meet again on Friday to reassess.

Only one administrator, Sara Prada, opposed the move, saying the suspension should last longer, at least a month.

“A week is not enough for a sick person to recover,” Prada said at the meeting. “None of us want to do distance education. But we have the possibility of being proactive and of protecting our students more … A week is nothing.

The Milpitas Unified School District in Santa Clara County will also be hosting distance education this week. And Bishop O’Dowd, a private Catholic high school in Oakland, told families he would organize distance education for the next two weeks.

The K-12 districts follow some universities, including Stanford, Cal State East Bay and seven UC campuses, including Davis and Santa Cruz, which have also suspended in-person teaching.

The school closings come amid a wave of the highly infectious variant of the omicron coronavirus that has not spared children, as previous variants largely did. A massive shortage of COVID test kits has also fueled anxiety among some school officials and parents. In Oakland, a dozen schools were forced to close on Friday when 500 teachers declared themselves ill – about 20% – some of them as part of a ‘work stoppage’ to protest what they have described as unsafe working conditions during the omicron wave. The protest followed a similar protest in San Francisco on Thursday, when 900 teachers failed to show up.

Some county education offices and county health officials are urging districts not to interrupt in-person teaching.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education released a joint statement with county health officer Sara Cody on Friday urging districts to continue in-person learning.

“We have to find ways to coexist and live with COVID,” Cody said in the statement, adding that “distance learning does not support the mental health, emotional health and academic well-being of students like the does the learning in person “.

Mary Ann Dewan, superintendent of the Santa Clara County office of education, noted that her office helps school districts enforce safety protocols.

“Students learn best when they are among their peers and have access to school resources,” the statement read.

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Hayward Unified Superintendent Matt Wayne said the Alameda County office of education has encouraged his district to stay open. Nonetheless, he recommended that trustees suspend in-person classes.

Most children are not yet vaccinated, which offers the best protection against omicron, and children under 5 still cannot receive vaccines. Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved boosters for people ages 12 to 17.

Stanford University said on Friday it would delay the start of in-person classes after more than 700 students, staff and faculty tested positive for the coronavirus.

Cal State East Bay announced Thursday that it will begin its spring semester on Jan. 18 entirely online, but will return to a mix of in-person and distance classes starting Jan. 31.

The move “will help us maintain a high level of security,” Campus President Cathy Sandeen said in a statement.

Nanette Asimov is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @NanetteAsimov