While the district is committed to getting students back to school in the new year, it wants to do so in a way that brings sustainability. The last thing we want to have to do is to shift students back to a remote setting. This will require that we return in a phased manner based upon community transmission rates, to channel the available staffing to schools that are operating in-person services for coverage of necessary quarantine actions.
We will return students to in-person instruction beginning at the elementary level and move to include our middle school, and then our high school students as transmission rate declines. Our community data will drive our plan to return to in-person services, so it is important that all of us work together on the mitigation measures required by the current public health orders.
The district is also working with our community partners to set up testing opportunities for staff and students to provide data and protect our schools from becoming a center for transmission.
As we look at our return plan, we’ve taken into account five important factors:
- Needs of our students for in-person instruction
- Needs of our staff to be safe and protected from exposure
- Community and family needs to have children back in school during the day
- Public health practices to help contribute to the overall mitigation effort in the community
- Sustainability to ensure students and staff don’t face massive change as we move into in-person models after winter break
While the plan is in its final stage of development and will be released by Wednesday of next week, we hope this information will answer some of the questions you have. We appreciate your patience as we work through these details.
So far we have resumed preschool services and opened up programs for our significant support needs students. We have also opened remote rooms in all buildings for students who have struggled with remote learning or require access to internet services or adult support.
Under discussion are two important steps, providing response time after the holiday break for any transmission spikes to be addressed. This is likely targeting January 19 as a possible return date if community spread is reduced and we achieve a community rating indicating such. Based on public health feedback, we may consider a four-day in-person week with Wednesday being a remote day for students to allow for deep cleaning and significant disinfecting of classroom spaces. We would shift to a five-day week when conditions no longer require that intervention.
The matrix that will be released on Tuesday evening will outline the triggers in local health data and the corresponding services that will be added by levels (elementary, middle, and high school). As with the community, our task force members have a variety of opinions, anxieties, and hopes on the plans to return to in-person learning, and we are confident that we will find a plan that addresses the needs of staff, students, and our community. While the final plans may not fully reflect all opinions, it will be representative of the thinking of the majority, and will provide the criteria that will drive the plan to return students to school as quickly and safely as possible.
We appreciate your patience as we’ve worked through these difficult times. We know the closure of our schools for four weeks so far has been challenging for families and look forward to having students back as soon as possible. We will send out a communication to our community on Tuesday afternoon with the details of our final plan. Have a great weekend.