The Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is taking the next steps for reopening in the fall. On Tuesday, the district held three town hall meetings to communicate its reopening plans to teachers, staff and parents. The district released the initial draft of its reopening plan on July 7.
“We look at the reopening as a phased process,” SCUSD Superintendent Dr. Stella M. Kemp told the attendees. “The decision [to transition between phases] really is related to our ability to implement the Public Health Department protocols to ensure safety for students and for staff.”
The district is working with the Santa Clara County Office of Public Education and the Public Health Department on metrics to help decide when to transition between phases. Those metrics will take into account a number of factors including COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County.
As of now, school will start on August 17 in phase one, a full distance learning model. That will include five days of instruction during the average school week. Students will be graded.
Phase two of the plan includes a hybrid learning model where students alternate between in-person and distance learning. Priority for phase two will be given to the children of essential workers and special populations such as special education, low-income and foster youth. Phase three is full in-person learning with preventative practices in place.
Parents will have the option to continue distance learning even if the district transitions to a later phase. Students will be allowed to switch between the distance learning and hybrid models only at semester or trimester breaks, not at will, and if space allows.
When the district enters the hybrid model, the district says schools will be prepared.
“We will make sure that our classroom and restroom sinks are well stocked with soap and towels,” said Eric Dill, SCUSD’s Chief Business Official. “We have ordered more than 600 hand sanitizer dispensers to place throughout our schools in areas where there are either no classroom sinks or no nearby restrooms.”
Dill says the district will bring in additional staff for the health office and there will be daily cleaning and sanitizing of all interior spaces with extra attention paid to frequently touched surfaces. Foggers will be used nightly to help sanitize.
“[During school] doors and windows may be opened to bring in the fresh air. Our air conditioning systems will be reprogramed to bring in as much outdoor air as possible to avoid recycling the air. We will be using the highest recommended filters for our air conditioning systems and those will be replaced regularly,” said Dill.
In terms of social distancing, Dill says each classroom was evaluated to determine how many desks can fit in a room and under what layouts. The district has plans for several different physical distancing scenarios for each room.
Parents will also be asked to play a part in keeping students safe. They must screen their kids before school. Students and staff who are ill or have symptoms must stay home. The district plans to train staff and parents on best health practices, what symptoms to look for and the expectations of families.
The district is asking parents to reply by July 24 with their preference of distance or hybrid learning in phase two so that it can begin allocating teachers and staff at the middle school and high school levels.
There is no word yet on if high school sports will resume in the fall, that’s a decision that must be made by the league that governs those sports.
All of the plans outlined by the district are preliminary and must still be approved by the Board of Trustees. The SCUSD Board of Trustees is meeting tonight and the reopening plan is on the agenda as a planning item.
The SCUSD community can review the reopening plan and provide feedback here: www.santaclarausd.org/draftreopeningplan.