- Hercules High School
Re opening of Schools
August 3, 2020
Dear WCCUSD Community,
I am proud to report that the district and the bargaining unit representing teachers and other certificated staff reached a tentative agreement on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Friday evening that sets expectations for educators and outlines the distance learning environment for students and families for when instruction resumes on August 17. We believe that this tentative agreement prioritizes the relationship between students, educators and families.
The District’s vision is that students will be under the care and direction of the teacher for the duration of the scheduled instructional blocks using a combination of learning with their teacher and learning independently. This is the framework for this proposal and the foundation of necessary flexibility for classroom teachers as professional educators.
Over the spring and summer, we listened to the feedback from families, students, teachers, classified staff, and administrators and have identified the key components of daily focus for students. These are included in the tentative agreement we reached with district teachers:
- Direct instruction, which will be a combination of asynchronous and synchronous models to teach academic content and social emotional development
- Teacher professional development, including race and equity learning and instruction, technology and content
- Daily planning time for teachers to support lesson design
- Daily office hours for teachers to interact individually with students to ensure understanding of content and maintain a SEL connection
- Limiting the number of classes that students take in a normal day at secondary level
- Common platform for assignments
- Time for student-to-student interaction that include social opportunities such as clubs, student forums, and other connections within the school day.
We clearly heard the need to set clear expectations and build more connections between students, teachers and families. We also heard the need for more professional development and support for our classroom teachers. We believe that the tentative agreement provides time and space for both. We also recognize that this agreement will not please everyone; it is a starting point to create the best distance learning model we can under these challenging circumstances.
You can read the specifics in the actual MOU, but I want to highlight some of the key areas of interest.
As proposed, the instructional day will begin at 10 a.m. and end by 3 p.m. This time includes a daily 25-minute advisory or homeroom period for all students, a 40-minute lunch break and an office hour for teachers to connect with students and families. On Fridays (which we have dubbed “Wellness Fridays”), teachers will have time set aside for “Family Hour,” where they will reach out to families to offer support and build relationships and professional development on race and equity. Students will have their daily advisory and time for socio-emotional support, enrichment activities or to simply to catch up with work from the week.
Each school will have the flexibility to create their own schedule within those hours. This includes 260 minutes per day (Monday to Thursday) of content instruction, learning and/or engagement. In addition to instruction, learning or engagement, that time includes a daily advisory or homeroom and office hours where teachers can connect individually or in small groups with students and families.
Please refer to the sample schedules for a visual representation of a possible day and week for both students and teachers.
You should know that the MOU still needs to be approved by the United Teachers of Richmond membership and by the Board of Education. There are other agreements to be made with the other unions representing district employees before all of the details of this school year can be confirmed. However, I wanted to ensure that we shared as much information with you as possible to help you plan for the upcoming school year.
If the MOU wins approval from the UTR membership, we will release additional resources, including a handbook for students, staff and families. The MOU creates the frame for the opening of schools and what classrooms will look like for educators, students and families when instruction begins on August 17. This is a starting point and we would like to thank UTR, school leaders, and parent and student groups for their support and feedback that has gotten us to this point.
Thank you for all your support, patience, and understanding through this process. I am looking forward to an exciting and productive school year.