Wednesday, October 21, 2020

CUSD Update – Re-entry plans must be flexible, inclusive, and practical


Good morning,

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You may have learned San Diego and Los Angeles Unified School Districts announced yesterday that they would reopen on August 31 in an exclusively online learning environment. San Diego Unified shared that their commitment to online instruction was for the first week of school only, and that they will continue to monitor changes in conditions to determine possible timelines for a physical return to campus. Conversely, the Board of Education in Orange County yesterday approved a return to school plan for all students without requiring masks. The decision by LAUSD and SDUSD is in response to increases of COVID-19 cases across California but made without a directive from public health officials. The San Diego County Public Health Order (effective July 7, 2020) states All public, charter and private schools may hold classes or school business operations on the school campus, provided the school complies with the measures contained in the State COVID-19 Industry Guidance. This order will change between now and the end of the week, and again by the end of the month. SDUSD and LAUSD are two of the largest districts in California, while Coronado Unified is one of the smallest. This allows us greater flexibility in our ability to adapt to the changing conditions and adjust to public health guidelines.

CUSD remains committed to navigating this pandemic with responsible and hopeful decision-making. We are guided by and responsive to directives from Public Health Officials. We strive to do what is best for our district staff and student body. We understand that our re-entry plans must be flexible, inclusive, and practical, with a focus on the overall health and well-being of our shareholders. While we are prepared to open the school year in a rigorous online learning environment, the Fall Task Force will continue to focus efforts on further on-campus and distance learning options, as well as hybrid contingency planning. Hosting a community forum on July 23 to present current reopening plans and strategies will bring our parent voice into the decision-making process.

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As positive cases have spiked across our county, our primary concern remains the long term health and safety of our staff, students, and community. Current conditions lend themselves to continued precautions like closures, masks, and distancing. If school was starting in the next few weeks, opening in an online environment would be the prudent course of action to take. I understand that the continuing uncertainty is challenging and that many would like to know what our return in late August will look like. People are seeking reassurances, safety and predictability right now and uncertainty has drawbacks. We are aware that parents and staff need to plan and make decisions for their families in part based on reopening plans. However, in these evolving times, flexibility is also essential and we need the ability to adjust and respond to current conditions. As a district, we will not commit to 100% distance learning at this time, although this option remains an available choice for our families. If conditions permit, we want the option to have our staff and students on campus aligned with current guidance from public health officials, including how to respond if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19. To date, this critical information has not been provided.

A successful response to this pandemic requires a concerted whole community effort. Schools exist within the communities we serve; we are interdependent and all plans must be responsive to current public health conditions. Precautions, mitigation, protocols and schedules for any school reopening plan continue to be as dependent upon what is happening outside our jurisdiction as within. This responsibility is shared by us all. Wear your mask, maintain social distance, and wash your hands. We need to work together to decrease the spread of this virus.

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Karl Mueller


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