Letter from the Superintendent: Current and Ongoing Planning for Starting the 2020-21 School Year Together

 

 

 

July 30, 2020

 

Message from Superintendent David Haglund, Ed.D.

 

Dear Pleasanton USD Families:


I hope that this update finds you healthy and safe, and possibly even enjoying some summertime rest and relaxation. 


I will apologize in advance for the length of this letter, but we want to be sure that a baseline level of information regarding our current and ongoing planning to start the 2020-21 school year is clarified to the best extent possible.


The last few months have been challenging, in many ways. I understand feelings of frustration that have arisen from the lack of clarity surrounding the new school year. We share in that frustration, which is due to the unprecedented and fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing restrictions driven by the public health department. However, we remain committed to providing the best possible educational experiences for all PUSD students, in spite of the uncertainties that remain at play in the weeks ahead.


As you read this message, please keep in mind that some or all of this information may change on short notice. I cannot emphasize that enough. Our experience over these last four months has taught us to expect change, which will remain true as we approach the start of the school year. This includes the possibility that the Governor or Public Health Department could dismiss schools again at some future date, including at the beginning of the school year. 


While the decision making authority regarding our schools remains local, actions are taken based on guidance from State and County agencies. Please know that whatever mandates are imposed upon us, we will quickly adapt to ensure that students receive the best learning experience possible. Our plans embody the flexibility needed to adjust, slide, and stretch to ever-changing circumstances. As adjustments become necessary, we will share them with you.


A significant issue arose last week with the passage of the budget omnibus bill (Assembly Bill 77), which included language that may restrict a district’s ability to offer a full time distance* learning option for students. We, along with districts across the state, are seeking clarification of this language. Until we receive clear guidance on what is (and is not) allowed, we will move forward as if the option to incorporate distance* and virtual learning is fully available to our families and staff. 


Currently, we have three instructional models planned for the start of the coming school year: 

  1. A hybrid learning model that combines remote and on campus learning; allowing us to slide into distance learning, as required; to hold school several days a week for smaller groups of students; or, stretch back to full-time, on-campus learning, as guidelines allow.
  2. A distance* learning option facilitated via Long Term Independent Study (home school)
  3. A enhanced virtual learning model that we have identified as the FLEX Academy


Hybrid Learning Model:

The Hybrid Model includes a combination of on-campus instruction and at-home learning that is accessed through various means that include independent learning activities, daily check-ins with teachers and appropriate interventions using Google Classroom, Zoom, and other approved online resources. This model meets current legislative requirements and allows us to slide into full distance* learning as mandated or to stretch toward on-campus, in-person learning for a limited amount of days in order to accommodate social distancing or return to school in-person on a full time basis. In each scenario, students will have consistent interaction with their teachers, including virtual office hours to facilitate instructional support for students. 


On-campus instruction will not likely encompass an entire “traditional” school day. Depending on how many students are in a class and which school, on-campus instruction may cover up to three hours a day. The number of days that a student will be on-campus each week has yet to be determined. The balance of the student’s school day would be spent at home completing assignments provided by their teacher. Extracurricular activities will be facilitated, in addition to the instructional hours, as health department guidance and other conditions allow.


Elementary students may be assigned to a daily session with their class and/or with a certificated teacher specialist (e.g., Science, PE or Music). Sessions may be held in the morning, mid-morning, or early afternoon, depending on the model adopted before school begins. The number of sessions and when they are scheduled will depend on the most recent guidance from the health department regarding group size. We hope to be able to provide both an on campus and enhanced virtual* learning options to our elementary school families.


The schedule for middle and high school students will correlate with the college experience, where students attend classes at specific times on specific days depending on their course schedule. We will do our best to schedule siblings together. Full time remote learning* options would most likely be facilitated via the FLEX Academy or long term independent study.


All outdoor activities will be structured to adhere to the most current guidelines issued by the Health Department. Students must remain in their classroom groups and current social distancing recommendations will be enforced. Current guidelines restrict student access to play structures and other shared play equipment. Students and staff will be expected to wash and/or sanitize their hands throughout the time they are on campus.


Current County and State Guidance for Schools (as of June 29):

  • Face coverings (e.g., masks, shields) are required to be worn by all staff and students (grades K and up) while on campus, with limited exceptions
  • Classrooms, learning spaces, and offices will be rearranged for social distancing
  • Daily health screenings must be conducted at home prior to arrival on campus
  • Students or adults who exhibit symptoms of fever or respiratory illness with be sent home until cleared to return to campus
  • Efforts to relax restrictions in Alameda County have been frozen, for the time being
 

Long Term Independent Study (home school support): 

Students opting for Long Term Independent Study will remain concurrently enrolled in their current school. Students in Long Term Independent Study are paired with a teacher of record who assists students and parents. A contract is used to establish productivity standards and expectations. Per California Education Code, failure to maintain adequate progress will result in the mandatory return to a seat-based program. 


Students must meet weekly, or as needed, via face to face or remote office hours. While students may have more than one teacher (especially in high school) their contract progress is monitored and enforced by their teacher of record. All course exams are conducted in a proctored environment, in order to ensure academic integrity.


Guided Distance/Remote Learning: 


Elementary Student Distance Learning

Some students in elementary school might not be able to attend school in-person for medical reasons pertaining to themselves or family members, and do not want to lose their spot at their home school. We are planning to offer a distance* learning program that would be held at each respective elementary school based upon need and staffing. This would allow students to remain at their home schools and have their own teacher. Students would remain with their teacher for the entire year. 


6th - 12 Grade Student FLEX Academy

The FLEX Academy is a PUSD program, taught by our teachers and following the same course outlines as used in our comprehensive schools. Students in grades 6-12 opting for the FLEX Academy will remain concurrently enrolled in their current school. Consistent, synchronous and asynchronous instruction will be provided through established online portals (Zoom, Edgenuity, Google Classroom, and other approved online resources). Students at Amador Valley High School and Foothill High School may continue to participate in their school’s athletics programs, adhering to program guidelines coming from CIF. Seniors may graduate with their home school. All students will also be allowed to participate in available extracurricular activities, such as clubs, music and drama at their current school. All course exams are conducted in a proctored environment, in order to ensure academic integrity.


The following will be true for all PUSD students regardless of the option chosen:

  • Special Education students will have access to all available learning models, as facilitated by their IEP team and process
  • There will be regular, scheduled check-ins by teachers
  • All classes will maintain consistent grading practices and daily/weekly schedules
  • There will be a consistent delivery of online instruction through similar online tools
  • All students will be assigned a ChromeBook at the start of the school year
  • Our IT Help Desk will be available by phone or email for any technology issues
  • We will increase our cleaning procedures at all PUSD facilities
  • Meals will be distributed and details provided by the August 11 school start date
 

Important Next Steps

  • Parents/guardians of elementary students who have completed the Pre-Registration Form will receive additional communication by July 3 that will include guidance on selecting distance learning at their home school as an option. We have decided not to make any changes to the Pre-Registration Intent Form at this time. 
  • On July 8, 2020 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm, we will host another Town Hall meeting specifically about the FLEX Academy.
  • On July 14th, staff will present the proposal for reopening school at a special Board Study Session. Note: The plan will be subject to modifications that may be necessitated by updated public health guidelines prior to the start of school. 
  • On Friday, July 17, we will send an important final form asking families for a commitment to one of these models*. We will also include detailed information about what a typical school day will look like for a student engaged in each model. The form’s deadline will be July 24. This information is a critical next step for us to lock in our plans for the 2020-2021 school year, which will begin on Tuesday, August 11, 2020.

We understand that this health pandemic has been stressful for our students, families and staff. We appreciate your continued patience and flexibility, as we further refine our plans and move towards reopening schools in August. Please watch for the above referenced email on July 17, which will contain time sensitive response information. If significant changes occur before then, we will communicate those to you in a timely manner.


I would like to thank everyone for the support we have received throughout this pandemic. We appreciate your partnership and collaborative engagement. We truly are in this together. 


Sincerely,


Dr. David Haglund

Superintendent of Schools

Pleasanton Unified School District


Helpful links: 



 
*Note: The availability of full time distance learning may be restricted by AB 77. Please be patient as we await further guidance