Dear PUSD Community,
I sincerely hope that you and your family are staying well and safe during this uncertain time. It’s understandable that some of our families, students and staff have questions around where we are in terms of our school reopening plan, and how this relates to the health indicators and guidance from the State and County levels. We remain focused on refining systems and supports for students and families as new guidance is received from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD).
Earlier this afternoon, California upgraded the Tier status for Alameda County from Purple to Red in the State’s monitoring system.
In our most recent Bulletin to the Board, a weekly public communication to our Board of Trustees in which our PUSD divisions illustrate our ongoing efforts to support our staff and families, I shared the following update to help build understanding of the relationship between the State’s new tiered monitoring system and our ongoing work in PUSD.
*Allowable School Operations: Aligned with Alameda County Public Health guidelines following the District’s reopening plan approved by the Board of Trustees on July 14, 2020.
Please keep in mind that even in the Red Tier, the risk level remains “substantial” and warrants continued focus on preventing community spread of the virus. During our September 24th meeting of the Board of Trustees, we will discuss the color tiered system and what each shift could mean in terms of impact to students, staff and the community.
Our team is working diligently to determine PUSD’s readiness to meet reopening standards and requirements. The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) clarified in their update that schools must continue distance learning until such time that local conditions support in-person learning. The ACPHD has the authority to take a more incremental approach to re-opening in an effort to minimize significant increases in disease transmission, even as the County meets the State’s less restrictive criteria. They will use the next two weeks (through October 6) to ensure our county metrics remain stable, and will release a phased plan for reopening that includes schools at that point.
The current requirements and guidelines districts must meet to physically reopen schools are significant, and involve careful planning and collaborative efforts with stakeholders to help ensure the safety and health of our students, staff, families and broader community. Given the current reality, there are no realistic scenarios under which we can assure the implementation of the State and ACPHD guidelines that would enable a full reopening of our campuses.
At the point these requirements can be met, we will plan on following our school reopening plan approved by our Board of Trustees on July 14, 2020. Our reopening plan follows state and county guidance for a phased approach beginning with our youngest students and those struggling to access remote learning.
A return to in-person learning, in any capacity, will be facilitated when families and staff can be ensured of a safe, stable, and high quality learning environment. To that end, staff is working diligently to prepare for implementation of the County’s current safety protocols. Please understand that a return to on-campus instruction represents a significant shift for staff, students and families who have shown amazing perseverance and resilience in the face of numerous changes and challenges over the past several months. Your continued patience and understanding is much appreciated.
We are also working toward providing support to students who are having difficulty accessing remote learning. We know this pandemic has exacerbated structural inequities and achievement gaps, and many students and families have struggled with remote learning. This is especially true for emerging readers, English learners, homeless and foster youth, students with special needs, and those at-promise students requiring significant intervention who are best served by in-person learning. Recent guidance allows for small groups of students, in stable cohorts, with additional restrictions relating to size and distancing. More details will follow, as our plans are solidified.
We will continue to discuss our plans with labor partners, Board Trustees, site leaders, staff and community stakeholders. You have our continued commitment to approaching any return to on-campus learning with a “safety first” mindset.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed and engaged as we learn more and move forward to best serve and support our community. We are and continue to be in this together.
Superintendent of Schools