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Superintendent's Message re Reopening Proposal to Board of Education

Dear PAUSD Families,

I want to thank everyone for their patience during the process of developing a plan to reopen in August. We are very close!

Our Board of Education has taken great care to take input from task forces, PAEA and CSEA leadership, surveys, public comment, the Public Health Department, and emails. They will consider the staff proposal for reopening this Wednesday and will take action on Friday. Pending Board approval, the plan below will get us started for the 20-21 school year.

Our approach included finding the "middle of the road" for reopening. We are hopeful for conditions to improve to an acceptable level for a full return for students. At this point, we feel that a measured approach is in our best interest and expect to monitor conditions regularly. Please know that a safe and responsible return to normalcy is our ultimate goal.

You will notice the lack of details regarding cleaning, flow of movement, dealing with health conditions, and other safety measures. That plan is under discussion with stakeholders and will be a stand-alone item in the future. It is vitally important and simply falls into a different process.

The presentation for our Board can be found at https://www.beautiful.ai/player/-MB6AgHQLyzDMfkzaCQN and includes a timeline and details our commitment to professional development for our teachers. The essential elements of the agenda item are found below for your review.

Sincerely,
Don Austin
Superintendent of Schools
@DonAustin_PAUSD


Essential Elements of Reopening Proposal

Elementary Schools

Recent health and safety guidelines indicate a difference between students under 13 years old and their peers. Scientists have indicated that younger students do not contract or spread COVID19 in the same manner as their older peers. As a result, safety guidelines suggest distinguishing approaches between elementary and secondary schools.

Maintaining cohorts and supporting routine handwashing are key elements of most guidelines. The nature of elementary schools allows for reasonable cohorts within classrooms. Splitting classes into alternating A/B groups reduces the number of students in close proximity for extended periods of time and provides an opportunity for staff and students to operationalize new routines. PAUSD may ease restrictions and ask students to return fully to sites if conditions improve or if guidelines are significantly revised.

E1. Families select between a hybrid or distance learning program by mid-July
E2. Distance learning students will be assigned a dedicated distance learning teacher
E3. In-person instruction will occur through an A / B alternating day schedule (half of class attends each day)
E4. Teachers will provide synchronous contact to alternating groups to maintain consistency
E5. PAUSD will explore multiple child-care options for families
E6. In-person instructional minutes will meet or exceed the established state standard
E7. Attendance will be taken daily
E8. Elementary school families self-selecting distance learning are not guaranteed a physical return to the home school they left.

Secondary Schools

Secondary students over the age of 13 appear to contract and transmit COVID-19 more closely to adults than their younger counterparts. Secondary schools are also not structured to support pure cohorts throughout a school day. Spacing and face covering guidelines are more restrictive for secondary schools as a whole. As a result, PAUSD is proposing a start with distance learning and routine opportunities to visit District sites in small groups for targeted activities. Schools are not closed by public order and physical attendance for specific reasons is not prohibited. Teachers will report to school sites and will determine appropriate times and opportunities for students to interact within established guidelines.

Mental health and support are an important aspect of safe schools and will be supported by small group interactions on site. Full physical reopening will be considered at checkpoints commencing on September 11. PAUSD will remain in contact with surrounding school districts, SCCPHD, SCCOE, and the CDE to evaluate conditions and best practices related to a physical return to school.

S1. All schools will begin instruction through distance learning with opportunities for students to regularly visit campuses for targeted small-group interactions
S2. Extra-curricular activities available in socially distanced settings
S3. Grades will be assigned
S4. All schools and classes will follow an established routine schedule with synchronous components
S5. Robust professional development will be provided to all teachers
S6. PAUSD+ will serve historically challenged students and provide support and consistency
S7. Attendance will be taken daily
S8. Physical returns to school will be evaluated routinely
S9. Students who do not return when schools physically reopen will require medical exemptions and will move to a Home & Hospital setting. Home & Hospital course offerings may not mirror the breadth of courses offered during in-person instruction.

The operational and implementation plan will be shared throughout the process and will not require approval from the Board of Education.

Important dates and checkpoints:

Jul 3 - Board of Education takes action on reopening plan
Jul 8 - Elementary parents receive registration confirmation to select hybrid or distance program
Jul 17 - Window to select hybrid or distance program closes
Jul 31 - Distance learning number of teachers are solidified, and classes are created
Aug 5 - Elementary students in hybrid program receive their assigned group (A or B)
Aug 12 & 13 - Students return (Negotiations in progress to consider moving Professional Development days to the front end of school - Could shift start for students be a couple days)
Sep 11 - Parents will receive status updates each Friday beginning on September 11 with a minimum of one week notice before significant program revisions are implemented
Nov 6 - At the completion of the first trimester, elementary school families may select in-person instruction and select out of distance learning