Superintendent Friday Update - 7/24/2020
BOARD MEETING DATES AND TOPICS
Our Board of Education will meet on July 28. We will have one remaining Special Meeting on August 11 before returning to our regular schedule. Open Session for both meetings should begin at 6:30. The majority of our July 28 meeting will be dedicated to our reopening plan progress. Topics for the meeting include:
- Elementary school distance learning schedules.
- Daily attendance.
- Synchronous instruction expectations.
- PAUSD+ options and consideration.
- Elementary waiver provision and purpose.
- Staffing considerations and implications when choosing distance learning as an option.
- Professional development.
- Establishment of three committees (Health & Safety, Student Supports, Parent Education).
- Grading for secondary students.
- Platform and tools.
- Routine student and parent surveying throughout closures.
The new guidelines are confusing in a few areas. Most people understand that school districts must be off the COVID19 "watch list" for 14 consecutive days before reopening. Confusion arises after Santa Clara County leaves the list for the required number of days. Returning to the list DOES NOT close our schools. After our county clears the list one time, the closure criteria becomes the new metric dependent upon local cases. This keeps school districts from a roller coaster experience because a portion of the county experiences a spike. It is possible, and likely, that counties could return to the list and most school districts remain safely open.
There was additional confusion about the PAEA proposal to return to classrooms in January of 2021. The negotiations process is outlined by law and our proposals are all public documents. Our Board of Education will determine our return date or criteria in the future. No predetermined date has been established.
DISTANCE LEARNING COMMITMENT THINKING
Now that our schools are closed due to our "watch list" status, we are concerned about shifts between closure, hybrid, full reopening, and full distance learning creating large-scale disruption to class lists and teaching assignments. We have a small window to make a decision that will affect staffing and student rostering.
Our current proposal is to ask elementary parents to complete one more survey. Families who can commit to a full year of distance learning would be placed with a distance-only teacher for the year and could return to their home school the following year.
To illustrate the issue we are facing, if only 10% (half of polling numbers) of our families selected the distance program for the year it would mean roughly 400 students requiring a dedicated teacher. Depending on the ages of the students, a 10% distance learning request would equate to somewhere between 16 and 20 teachers. If our schools hypothetically returned in a couple months without predetermined commitments, we would have to pull 16-20 teachers and completely redistribute the students who were content with in-person or hybrid options.
While still a massive organizational challenge, we think it is possible to allow students who do not commit to the full year to choose distance learning at a later date. It will still create a large disruption and there will be displacement of students. We either accept the disruption as a biproduct of choice or we follow other school districts requiring binding commitments now for an in-person or distance learning program in the future. This will be a topic discussed at our Board of Education meeting on July 28.
Our immersion programs may be addressed differently and will require work with PAEA. Due to the unique nature of the programs, we have no recommendation at this time.
SAFETY UPDATE FROM SAFETY, SECURITY, AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS MANAGER
As guidance has evolved and remained fluid throughout the school closure period, we have been carefully measuring our approach to reopening. The PAUSD team is working daily to safeguard PAUSD staff, students, and the overall community. Here are just some of the key protocols we have implemented in accordance with Santa Clara County's Public Health Guidelines for Reopening Schools.
Individual Control Measures: We have developed and assigned the following training to all District Office staff and 12-month employees in accordance with the Santa Clara County Social Distancing Protocol:
- COVID-19 Information and Awareness
- Individual Control Measures and Mandatory Daily Screenings
- Importance of Getting Tested
- County Guidance for a Safe Return to Work
COVID-19 symptom screening forms are being provided for staff at each designated department entrance and collected by supervisors at the beginning of shifts. A simple virtual screening tool is now being piloted as well. A number of mitigation strategies have been put in place, primarily based on guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Some of these include:
- Social distancing of 6 feet or more
- Site access protocols
- Utilization of virtual meetings
- Staggered employee schedules
- Teleworking where possible
- Symptom free protocols before entering buildings
- Minimal in-person meetings
- Face mask/face covering requirements except when medically inadvisable
- Hygiene protocols
- COVID-19 Testing and notification protocols
- Stay at home protocols when sick
- Self-isolation and quarantine protocols
- Occupancy limitation protocols
- Site specific infection control through hazard assessments
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) has been ordered for staff and students including cloth facemasks, disposable facemasks, face shields, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, portable hand wash stations, and scanning thermometers. Boxes of supplies have already been provided to work areas where staff may be physically present. Site-specific emergency protocols including preparedness for emergency COVID-19 closures have been, or are being developed starting with Greene Middle School's ESY program and will continue throughout the district during July and August.
Maintenance and Safety staff have been working to meet all Santa Clara Public Health COVID-19 Site Specific Protection Plan requirements, beginning with 25 Churchill and Greene Middle School. Classrooms, offices, and other campus spaces are being reconfigured and marked to indicate physical distancing requirements. How we learn, work, and interact is being carefully rethought in ways that will allow us to continue our jobs and our studies. Cleaning & disinfecting is being managed in two phases: we are nearing the completion of Phase 1 (Deep cleaning) and beginning Phase 2 (disinfecting) all areas (inside/outside). High traffic areas are being frequently disinfected including high-contact surfaces. School sites, as well as school buses, are being disinfected with the new electrostatic sprayers, which apply an electrostatic charge to disinfectant spray to increase efficiency in sanitizing every corner and crevice. Daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place.
Beginning with elementary school sites, teams have started walking the front office areas of all school sites in order to assess the different furniture types and the different brackets and clamps required to install plexiglass. We have a few remaining plexiglass units from phase (1) -district office/portables install. We expect another shipment of plexiglass this week. Therefore, installation at sites could begin as early as next week.
Social distancing signage and floor markers are being installed. Signage to remind staff and students about hygiene protocols, the symptoms of COVID-19, washing hands frequently, wearing facemasks, and preventing the spread of Coronavirus are also being posted. Disinfectant products are being provided including hand sanitizer for every building and classroom. Additional disinfectant spray bottles are available in each department for staff who opt to sanitize their own space. A focus has been placed on maximizing the usage of outdoor space, addressing optimal ventilation practices, and adjusting heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units to maximize outside air intake. Every HVAC filter in the District is being replaced with the highest efficiency filter that the system allows to provide healthier indoor air free of dust, pollen, allergens and other contaminants. Our maintenance team is working to ensure the ventilation system will function at its maximum efficiency.
Comprised of site administrators, parents, representation from our certificated and classified employees' unions, and District staff, this small team is being put into place immediately to review and monitor District progress on requirements for the Re-Opening of Santa Clara County K-12 schools. We are keenly focused on the health and safety of our employees and students, especially those who are at increased risk for COVID-19. This team will assist in evaluating our plans and adjusting as needed based on changing circumstances or new information from public health agencies.
PAUSD+ & STUDENT LEARNING HUBS
Conditions to Open In-Person: There is no question that we can open PAUSD+ if Santa Clara County has been off the "watch list" for 14 consecutive days between now and August 17. We are exploring options if the county does not clear the list.
Targeted Audience: PAUSD+ is an invitation program for economically disadvantaged, historically underrepresented, and credit-deficient students. PAUSD has reviewed data for each school and has initial lists for each of our secondary schools. Middle schools range between 30-50 students, while our high schools have over 100 identified.
Leadership Points: Each secondary site has designated an administrator as the point person for their students, families, volunteers, and staff. Miguel Fittoria is the coordinator of the overall program and has site visit responsibilities. Assistant Superintendent, Lana Conaway, is the vision creator and will be responsible for implementation, allocation of resources, and evaluation of effectiveness. Site principals are intimately involved in combination with support from Judy Argumedo.
Staffing: Changing conditions make concrete staffing challenging at this point in the summer. PAEA has proposed no return to sites until January 2021. While only a proposal, the sentiment has led PAUSD to look for alternatives. If allowed by the Public Health Department, our 75-member administrative unit is prepared to step in to support our students. We believe this work is central to the mission of our Student Success Coaches and can't imagine the program not involving them. We have many classified positions that make sense to assist. Finally, PTAC has indicated a strong desire to help, which came as no surprise. If we are allowed to have students in-person, we will have caring adults ready to work.
Facilities: Secondary school libraries will house PAUSD+.
Days & Duration: We believe that three days per week is sustainable for students and staff. We are proposing a Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday program. This covers the "launch" day and one day of each class. Students would be monitored on Tuesdays and Fridays by the team. Students may arrive 30 minutes before their first class or an hour early on Mondays.
Elementary schools: A companion PAUSD+ program for elementary students is under development and will come forward shortly.
If Virtual: We believe that a virtual support system is less complicated than in-person and will be developed over the next couple weeks.
Learning Hubs (quiet places): We are completely separating Learning Hubs from PAUSD+ to avoid confusion and dilution of efforts. The proposed "quiet spaces" will be staffed largely with volunteers. The current thought is to host Learning Hubs in facilities not tied to our secondary campuses to keep the programs separate.