District Statement and Reopening Plan Update
July 7, 2020
Dear Santa Clara Unified students, families, staff, and community,
We know that these are difficult and uncertain times. Authentic communication is the antidote to fear, confusion, anxiety, and uncertainty during this pandemic. Having access to accurate, reliable, and timely information is essential as school leaders and families make crucial decisions about our students’ education in the months ahead.
June 19 In-Person Leadership Team Meeting
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being circulated on social media and in conversations as a result of inaccurate news reporting about a recent in-person district leadership team meeting. This is exactly how rumors and false narratives get started and hopefully this communication sets the record straight.
On June 19, our leadership team met at our Educational Options campus to discuss and troubleshoot the complexities of developing our reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year. We regret that our community, our school district, and our SCUSD leaders are being subjected to unwarranted complaints and unfounded criticism that are not based on the true facts. It is also sad that some individuals have chosen to misconstrue the safety protocols and precautions we applied in having that meeting.
The June 19 team meeting was conducted under strict guidelines provided by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. All attendees, including Superintendent Kemp, maintained social distancing and wore face coverings during the meeting. Employees were required to conduct a self-symptom check in advance and to stay home if they were unwell. We offered any staff member who felt uncomfortable physically participating to remotely join the meeting via Zoom.
Both Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) and Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) re-confirmed last week that the district observed appropriate health and safety measures in conducting this meeting. According to SCCPHD, essential businesses (like schools) are allowed to determine for themselves which organizational functions and meetings are essential and can take place in-person. There is no group size limit and attendees must complete a daily health screening, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing. SCUSD leaders complied with this standard.
Unfortunately, one of the attendees tested positive for COVID-19 in the days following the meeting. It has been confirmed that the individual did not test positive as a result of being present at the SCUSD meeting. Our safety protocol was implemented and the facility was cleaned and sanitized. All attendees received a notice with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) recommendations to continue to practice social distancing and to be tested for the virus. To date and to our knowledge, no other members of our team have tested positive. No one was ordered into quarantine by the county or the district. Our COVID-19 health protocols worked.
Reopening Plan Update
Santa Clara Unified School District has not made any decisions or announcements about reopening schedules. This is still a work in progress and we are dealing with a rapidly changing environment. Depending on how COVID-19 evolves in Santa Clara County in the coming weeks, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s new guideline for in-person learning does allow for full-time in-person learning in stable cohorts for elementary schools.
We are exploring with our community several options for feedback, including that option, a hybrid schedule option, and a full-time virtual learning option. All of these decisions must be grounded in respect for equity and social justice issues and aligned to our core values as a school district. We will continue to keep you informed as this process moves forward.
Our community is divided on their needs and preferences for educational options in the fall. We know we need to provide options to families because one size does not fit all. Some families prefer and are able to facilitate continued full-time at-home learning. While other families prefer or need full-time in-person learning, such as families who must return to work full-time in order to have a livable income. Other families prefer or need something in between — a hybrid learning option — where students spend part of the week on campus and part of the week at home.
The district is entering the final stages of design and consultation on back-to-school schedule options that take into account health and safety requirements, educational quality, and the need for family choice.
All families will be able to choose the all virtual learning option, which will be improved based on feedback we received from our students, families, and staff about our distance learning program in the spring.
For families who do not choose the all-virtual learning option, we will likely start the first weeks of school with the majority of our students in the hybrid learning option. Our job is to serve students in a safe and healthy way. We know that we will need to be able to pivot based on what happens with the virus in the weeks ahead and so all learning options will be designed to be flexible and adaptable to move forward into all in-person learning, or back into all virtual learning as needed.
Today, the district reopening committee met and reviewed a range of hybrid learning options for the return to school in August that combine both in-person and virtual learning. The committee discussed the strengths and challenges of each option from the perspectives of parents, students, and teachers, and identified preferred options for elementary and secondary schools. The district's preferred hybrid schedule design will reflect best practice in health and safety. The design will allow us to pivot quickly to all virtual learning if necessary in order to respond to changing conditions in our state and county and Santa Clara Public Health Department requirements.
A committee will meet monthly to monitor, review, and adjust the educational program as needed to ensure the best and safest possible learning program for your child and family, and for our staff and community.
The hybrid schedule design will most likely include two days of in-person instruction of stable student cohorts that are considerably smaller than traditional class sizes, and three days of virtual instruction, with all students sharing one common day of virtual instruction. This is draft planning right now and may change as plans continue to develop, but we want to share our current thinking with you.
Our public health officials have provided strict guidelines and requirements on how to safely offer in-person learning options that will be applied to all options that include in-person learning.
Just as our families have the need for options, we also understand our staff have varying needs and preferences as well and we are establishing supports and criteria for placing staff into their preferred teaching and learning model. Our goal is to provide students, families, and staff a menu of options to help best meet their needs and preferences, while also adhering to the strict public health guidelines set for schools.
We are still strategically listening to our stakeholders and trying to reflect your thoughts, comments, and suggestions into our plan. It is taking longer than we expected to have our public document ready and we will release the draft plan by the end of this week for your review over the weekend ahead of next week’s townhalls. We truly appreciate your patience and support as our reopening planning moves forward.
In the meantime, don’t forget to mark your calendars for our upcoming townhall meetings to review our reopening plan. Links to access the meetings will be sent out in our communication later this week.
- July 13, 4-5:30 p.m. | Townhall for Staff
- July 14, 4-6 p.m. | Townhall for English-speaking Families
- July 14, 6:15-8:15 p.m. | Townhall for Spanish-speaking Families