July 13, 2020 - RVSD Update: 2020-21 Schools Reopening Planning

Hello RVSD Families and Staff,

 

I trust this email finds you and your families well and adjusting to this ever-changing period of “new normal.”  Never did I anticipate that I’d be coming on as the next superintendent of the Ross Valley School District in such a time of flux and uncertainty.  

 

Right now, we all wish we had a crystal ball that would tell us what the right answer for the reopening of school for the 2020-21 school year is going to be.  And while everyone wants to be back in class, returning to the way we know education works best, we also know that there will not be a one-size-fits-all solution.  With the extraordinary amount of information gathering and thoughtful analyzing, I’m confident that if we remain flexible and adaptable, we will reopen school in the fall in a way that will first and foremost prioritize the health and safety of all students and staff while providing teaching and learning in a manner that engages each and every student whether they be in the classroom, in a distance learning environment, or in a combination of the two.  In fact, we are planning for multiple scenarios that will allow us to pivot as the need arises (for example, due to continued increases in COVID-19 cases or to a PSPS).  

 

I thank you for your willingness to read through this entire email (it’s a long one) so that you will have a better understanding of the ever-evolving county and state guidelines that inform our latest planning.  Our planning of instructional scenarios for the 2020-21 school year is based on the Marin County Offices of Education and Public Health Guided Return to Site-Based Classroom Instruction (released June 18) and the state budget trailer bills (AB 77 and SB 98) (released at the end of June).  While we had originally considered a hybrid option in which students attend school two days per week and participate in distance learning for the other three, the newly released state bills mandate a minimum number of daily instructional minutes (180 for TK/K; 230 for 1st- 3rd; 240 for 3rd - 8th) and instructional days (180) as well as a strong recommendation for daily in-person attendance.  

 

We have created two teams to oversee the planning for the 2020-21 school reopening, one of which is focused on Operations and the other on Teaching & Learning.  These teams, comprised of teachers, classified staff, and site and district office administrators, meet on a weekly basis to develop plans for implementing the county health and safety guidelines and create learning scenarios that engage and meet the needs of our students.  Between meetings, they attend sessions hosted by Marin County Office of Education and the Marin County Public Health Department (see MCOE’s website for a host of reopening schools information and resources) and read an inordinate amount of articles and documents on school reopening and safety.

 

At this time we are considering 2 options that families may choose for the 2020-21 school year.  As I mentioned above, our first and foremost goal is to prioritize the health and safety of all students and staff.  In any option for reopening schools, school lunches will continue to be provided for students.  Additionally, we will need to reach agreement with each of our employee groups, and we want to ensure that our plans are adaptable given the ever-changing landscape.  The two options are as follows:

 

Option 1: Distance Learning 2.0.  In accordance with SB 98, this option will be available to students who are 1) medically fragile, or 2) would be put at risk, or 3) who are self quarantining for whatever reason.  Additionally, this option may be necessitated for all students as a result of an order or guidance from a state public health officer or a local public health officer. 

 

In accordance with SB 98, our Distance Learning 2.0 model will include the following minimum components:

  • Provision of access for all pupils to connectivity and devices adequate to participate in the educational program and complete assigned work
  • Content aligned to grade level standards that is provided at a level of quality and intellectual challenge equivalent to in-person instruction
  • Academic and other supports designed to address the needs of pupils who are performing below grade level, or need support in other areas
  • Special education, related services, and any other services required by a pupil’s individualized education program
  • Designated and integrated instruction in English language development
  • Daily live interaction with certificated employees and peers for purposes of instruction, progress monitoring, and maintaining school connectedness 

 

SB 98 also adopts Education Code section 43504, which imposes the following requirements aimed at ensuring that school districts maintain regular contact with students participating in distance learning:

  • School districts are required to document daily participation for each pupil on each school day.  Daily participation is defined to include: evidence of participation in online activities (including completing assignments and assessments) or contact between the district and the pupil or parent/guardian.  Students not engaged in daily participation must be marked absent.
  • School districts shall ensure that a weekly engagement record is completed for each pupil documenting synchronous or asynchronous instruction for each whole or partial day of distance learning, verifying daily participation, and tracking assignments.

 

Option 2: In-Person Hybrid.  At this time we are considering 2 in-person hybrid models.  For in-person instruction, we must be able to maintain 4-6 feet distance between students and 6 feet distance between students and adults as well as the other guidelines outlined in the county guidelines (more details on all 30 elements of the Marin County guidelines can be found here).  For both of these models, the reason we are referring to them as a “hybrid” is because there will need to be an additional element of distance learning in order to provide all of the learning experiences (e.g. core instruction as well as specials in elementary and electives in middle school).  Maintaining distancing guidelines will typically limit a classroom cohort size, which, as a practical matter, cannot generally be accommodated without some form of distance learning.  Utilization of outdoor learning environments will also be considered.  

 

  • Shortened Day:  This option is likely to be offered if we are able to maintain 4-6 feet distance between students and 6 feet distance between students and adults as well as the other guidelines outlined in the county plan.  Given the size of our classrooms as well as consideration of other learning spaces (such as in multi-purpose rooms or out of doors) and the number of students registered for each grade level, this option likely will only be possible if a large number of students choose the distance learning option in order to reduce the cohort size.  The length of the shortened day will be in accordance with the minimum minutes required for a school day for each grade level (outlined above).

 

OR

 

  • AM/PM Day:  This option is likely to be offered if the number of students who choose the distance learning option is small, meaning the cohort sizes will be too large to maintain 4-6 feet distance between students and 6 feet distance between students and adults.  In this option, roughly one half of the class would attend in the morning while the other half of the class would attend in the afternoon. 

 

All in-person options will require the following safety measures will include but are not limited to: 

  • Face coverings for all students and staff unless medically or behaviorally contraindicated
  • Regular handwashing and use of hand sanitizer
  • Daily health check-in procedures for students and staff
  • Quarantining of all cohorts if required by county health department
  • Distancing between students and staff and stable cohorts
  • Student seating facing forward as much as practicable
  • Closure of playground structures
  • Limit gatherings and use of volunteers
  • Cleaning and disinfecting schedules, and others.

 

 

Parents/Guardians, with an understanding that in this time of uncertainty, mindsets and plans shift with new information, we ask that you complete this short form if you are either planning to or are very likely to request full distance learning for your child/ren.  Knowing the numbers for distance learning at each grade level and at each school will help us to plan for our in-person options.  Indicating your interest in distance learning at this time for your child/ren will not mean that you will be held to that.  Once county and state guidelines remain consistent and agreements with employee groups are finalized, we will be asking parents/guardians to commit to either a distance learning or an in-person option.  Should a parent/guardian request a switch at a later date, consideration will be given on a space available basis. 

 

At the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting on July 20, beginning at 7pm, we will be going more in depth about the reopening of our RVSD schools in the 2020-21 school year.  Additionally, we appreciate the feedback provided by our parents/guardians who participated in our most recent parent survey and are considering your questions and input to plan for our upcoming virtual Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, July 23rd, from 5-6pm, to provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions.  Later this week, I’ll send out an email with details and links to both of these meetings.

 

Although I love to hear from and engage with parents/guardians and I encourage continued input, if you reply to this email, please know that my ability to respond will be limited.  Therefore, I encourage you to email publiccomments@rossvalleyschools.org for the Board of Trustee Meeting and communications@rossvalleyschools.org for the virtual town hall meeting as we will continue to consider all input and questions.

 

 

My best,

 

Marci

 

Marci Trahan
Superintendent
Ross Valley School District
110 Shaw Drive   |   San Anselmo, CA 94960
Phone: (415) 451-4064   |   Fax: (415) 453-3152
mtrahan@rossvalleyschools.org

 

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