July 9 Return To School Town Hall Reminder
July 9, 2020
Dear WCCUSD Families,
Today, as promised, I am releasing our framework for returning to school (timeline) this fall (Spanish). I hope that everyone can appreciate that school will not look the same when full-time instruction resumes on August 17. Instead, we are proposing a phased start to in-school instruction. All instruction will be in a distance-learning model with a phased in approach to bringing students back to a physical campus when it is safe for both the students and the staff who are providing our services. This means that some high needs students may be on campus beginning August 17, while all other students will continue learning at home. All families should be planning for at home instruction while we work to bring students back safely.
While I will explain more about the proposed framework in this message, you are invited to attend the Town Hall taking place on Friday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. You can join on Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/94137692306 or by phone 669-900-6833, ID: 941 3769 2306. There, you will receive more information and be able to weigh in with your thoughts, which will be used to inform our work as we move forward.
I want to be very clear, we want students at school. We need students at school. Many students need to be at school for a variety of reasons: more engaging educational opportunities, socio-emotional support, access to meals and health care. However, with the rising number of COVID-19 cases in California since the easing of restrictions, it is clear that asymptomatic transmission in close quarters is a key concern. In all good conscience, the safety of students and staff must be our top priority.
As you know, student and parent leaders and District staff have spent the last few weeks soliciting feedback and input from this community about what school should look like when we return in August. What we’ve heard, overwhelmingly, is that ensuring student and staff safety is the number one priority. We also heard about what worked (and what didn’t) during the crisis this spring. Students have shared feeling disconnected and families urged more socio-emotional support for their children. Employees have asked for more training so they can better support students and families in this new environment. You can see some of this feedback in the survey results.
In light of those conversations with stakeholders, we tried our best to stick with these core values and guiding principles in developing the framework for reopening:
- Support safety of students and staff in a healthy learning/teaching environment
- Strengthen the social emotional health and well-being of students and staff
- Promote equity and achieve equality of education opportunity
- Overcome the digital divide for disadvantaged families
- Adequately feed students nutritious meals
- Create a culture of connectivity and collaboration in a new school environment
- Provide families with educational options to meet their unique needs
- Inform and engage stakeholders with timely, reliable and accurate information
- Provide professional development to staff and parents on distance learning
Any strategy for the new school year that we develop needs to be flexible, adaptable and nimble. Flexible enough to address the unique needs of schools and students. Adaptable enough to adjust to changing circumstances and conditions. Nimble enough to pivot to fully online distance learning quickly without jeopardizing equity and accessibility.
This proposed framework meets those goals and reflects the outlined values and guiding principles.
In making this decision, four options were explored:
- All Schools Reopen and Classroom Instruction Resumes As Calendared
- All Schools Remain Closed with 100% Distance Learning
- Hybrid, Blended Instructional Program
- Online with Student Support Hubs - Tiered Priority for in-school learning of “high need” students
Option 4, Online with Student Support Hubs, best balances safety concerns expressed by all stakeholders while ensuring that the students with the highest needs receive the necessary support.
Under this model, in Phase 1 all instruction is delivered in a distance learning approach. The “classroom” is with the teacher, who can deliver instruction either from home or in a classroom with a limited number of high-need students.
Once we are able to, school buildings could be used as Student Support Hubs where small groups of students would be able to access distance learning with the support of instructional aides, child care credentialed staff, before/after school workers, and/or credentialed teachers as well as other staff to be determined. All social distancing and safety precautions would be in place for those students and employees who are on campus.
As the COVID-19 situation improves, we will revisit our programs with the goal of expanding Phase 2 opportunities towards moving to a full in-school model as the conditions allow. This analysis will happen along the natural reporting periods throughout the coming school year.
I know that members of this community will have a number of questions and there are still plenty of details to work out based upon this framework. I encourage you to attend the Town Hall tomorrow night and the Board meeting on Wednesday, July 15, where more details will be discussed.
The final framework will be submitted to the county office of education on or before July 20. However, the framework will be subject to continued improvements and adjustments as we work with our employee groups to define the working conditions necessary as part of creating our full plan. We anticipate that more detailed plan information will be released at the end of the month or in early August. This will be something that hasn’t been tried in the history of public education. We will need to revise and adjust as we learn more and get feedback from students, families and employees.
Please feel free to give us your feedback at the Town Hall or by sending us an email. You can reach out to your school principal or office manager or even your child’s teacher with suggestions or comments about this proposal. We want to hear your thoughts and feedback. And once school begins, we will continue to check in with you because we cannot make this work without your help.
We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support as we try to develop an approach that meets the needs of our students and staff in a very complex and demanding situation.