Reopening School: Decisions Moving Forward
Friday Briefing from the Superintendent - June 26, 2020
“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
On June 24, the District Reopening Committee met to review what our Workgroups —Operations, Facilities, Instruction, Technology, Governance—have completed. The workgroups conducted the preliminary planning to safely open school in the fall, based on the information from the Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. at this point in time.
The 31-member District Reopening Committee includes parents, elementary and middle school teachers, administrators, special education specialists, support staff, and the presidents of CETA (the teachers union) and CSEA (representing all support staff). The Committee’s objectives are: providing information, understanding and providing diverse perspectives to planning; understanding the limitations and expectations of the current reopening guidelines; and making recommendations for the fall school schedule.
First Focus is Safety
Workgroups intentionally focused on safety first, knowing that school-day schedules would be more accurate by waiting until mid-July when the Public Health Department guidelines for determining whether “in person” instruction will be possible in the fall. School teams submitted proposed schedules as part of a design challenge. Those will be part of the planning once we have the guidelines.
Extensive Work Completed
Workgroup chairs presented to the Committee itemized lists of the tasks that are completed or in progress so far, addressing everything from how and when the students and staff arrive at school, to what they will need throughout the day as they safely learn and interact, to when and how they dismiss for the day. Facilities and work stations are being outfitted with plexiglass and markers for social distancing, handwashing/cleaning stations, and areas for isolating anyone exhibiting symptoms. For more details, please see the excerpts of the presentation on our COVID-19 web page.
The entire Reopening Committee participated in break-out discussions to examine the information from their various roles and perspectives to ensure all aspects of need were considered and to offer additional suggestions and insight.
Several Committee members noted that hearing the concrete things being done was extremely helpful. Teachers expressed relief at seeing how much of the safety planning has been done so they can focus on teaching.
Parents and teachers said the meeting was incredibly helpful for them to see the enormous amount of planning and work that has gone into what needs to be done to open school safely and effectively for all students. Others expressed appreciation and relief that both common procedures and site-specific needs are being considered, that decision making is being based on numeric data and anecdotal/empathetic data, and that there are time markers for decisions to be made.
The next Reopening Committee meeting will be July 15th. The remaining challenges to be resolved before July 31 include:
- Pending Public Health Department decision about whether students can return to campus
- Adhering to any new Public Health Dept guidelines
- Delving into distance learning participation data
- Creating recommendations for a fall schedule
Lastly, our district is incredibly fortunate to have so many community partners ready to pitch in and support our students. Local groups and agencies are working with us on how to support our staff and families in the fall with child care, equity-focused books and resources, student social groups, technology trouble-shooting, subject matter tutors/mentors, and more.
It remains our goal to safely bring as many students back to campus as possible. Our aim is to educate students to their highest potential, and being in school, interacting with teachers and classmates, is how our students learn best. Some recent State legislation and funding will present challenges to that effort, and I will have more information about that in a future update.
Until next time...Stay safe. Be well.