FALL 2020 PLANNING

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SCHOOL REOPENING UPDATE, OCTOBER 30, 2020
 
Dear LGSUHSD Community, 

I hope this message finds you and your family well. I’m writing today to provide an update on our school reopening planning and timeframe. Our goal since the beginning of school shutdowns last spring has been and remains to return students and staff to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe, practically feasible, and legally allowable to do so. We have been working diligently to design and implement plans that move us toward this goal and we’ve made significant progress. The information included here is intended to provide further clarity on our plans and timeframe.


County and State Guidelines: Our ability to resume in-person instruction is determined by both State and County guidelines. When Santa Clara County moved from the Purple to the Red Tier of the State’s COVID monitoring system earlier this fall, schools within the County were legally able to resume in-personI instruction as long as certain State and County guidelines could be met. These guidelines come from three different agencies - the California Department of Public Health, the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, and Cal OSHA (state Division of Occupational Safety & Health). Combined, these three agencies provide a dizzying array of over 140 specific guidelines, some of which are mandatory and some of which are recommendations. If the guidelines provided by these agencies are not consistent in any area, we are obligated to adhere to the most restrictive guideline. The guidelines offered by these three agencies can be found via these links:

We’ve used this guidance to inform our reopening plans and to develop safety processes and protocols that we are implementing now as we’ve begun to return students and staff to in-person instruction.


LGSUHSD’s Four- Phased Plan: Our district is approaching reopening as a gradual transition through a four-phased approach:

  • Phase 1: Reopen on August 13, 2020 with all students in online/remote learning
  • Phase 2: As conditions permit, brings targeted groups of students back in cohorts
  • Phase 3: As conditions permit, bring all students back for in-person instruction in a part-time model which includes some in-person and some online instruction
  • Phase 4: As conditions permit, bring all students back for full-time in-person instruction

Where Are We Now?:

Currently, we are in Phase 2 of our plan. We have multiple small stable cohorts of students (no more than 14 students in a cohort) engaged with in-person activities at each of our schools. Participation is currently voluntary on the part of both students and staff.

We will continue to expand the number cohorts over the next six weeks as we continue to plan for a transition to Phase 3 that will involve all students returning for in-person instruction on a part-time basis.

We view these cohorts as a way to pilot and refine our safety processes and protocols with a smaller number of staff and students before we bring nearly 3500 students and 300 staff members back to campuses at the same time - we believe that this is the best way to move toward that goal safely.

We are also very actively engaged in conversations with and observation of other school districts around the state that, based upon local conditions, were able to reopen earlier than us so that we can learn from their experiences - both good and bad.


What’s Next?

We are actively refining our plan to bring all students and staff back for in-person instruction in Phase 3. Some key information related to this pending transition:

  • The earliest we will make this transition will be at the beginning of the second semester, after Winter Break in January.
  • We will make a decision by no later than the first week of December whether we will begin Phase 3 to open the second semester so students, families, and staff have enough time to prepare for such a transition.
  • When we transition to Phase 3, families will have the choice to participate in the in-person blended hybrid model or to remain in online-only instruction as we recognize that not all families will be ready to send their students back to school for in-person instruction.
  • By the end of next week, families will receive a survey in which they will be asked to indicate whether they would choose a part-time in-person model or choose to remain in online-only instruction when we transition to Phase 3. This is not a binding decision at this point and will be used to help with our planning.
  • Of note, current County mandatory guidelines for high schools require that we maintain at least six feet of social distance among individuals as we return to in-person instruction. This means that we must run classes in the range of 12-13 students in each classroom and therefore precludes returning all students to school at the same time as normal classes average in the neighborhood of 28 students. This requires a part-time cohort approach which could range anywhere from 2-4 cohorts with students attending in-person instruction either one or two full days per week.

Why Wait Until January?

  • Ultimately, we believe that the safest and best approach is to reopen gradually rather than suddenly with all students and staff. We view the worst-case scenario as reopening too abruptly and in an unsafe manner resulting in a COVID outbreak at one or both of our schools necessitating a sudden shift back to full online learning. This has not been an uncommon scenario at other K-12 schools and colleges around the country and one we wish to avoid.
  • As mentioned earlier, we are currently bringing students and staff back in smaller numbers as a way to test and refine our safety protocols and we’ve already learned a great deal and made changes to our practices based upon this experience.  We anticipate we will learn even more as the number of students and staff on campuses slowly increases.
  • It’s also important to understand that reopening a high school safely is much more complicated than reopening elementary and middle schools because it is far easier to safely open schools with smaller overall student populations and to reopen schools in which it is possible to keep students in stable cohorts, as in elementary where students stay in one classroom with the same group of kids for the duration of each school day. This is impossible to do at the high school level where students have to change classes multiple times each day thereby exposing them to hundreds of other students each day. This also applies to staff who will be exposed to hundreds of students each day.
  • Finally, we believe that the best time to make a transition that will significantly change the instructional model (i.e., full online to blended) is in alignment with the beginning of a new grading period as any transition of this sort will be disruptive for both students and staff and we want to minimize the impact of any disruption on student learning and grades.

Academic and Social-Emotional Support: We fully recognize that some of our students find distance learning challenging academically and/or due to social-emotional concerns and we have developed a number of supports for these students. We have opportunities for tutoring and targeted academic support both in-person and online and we have additional social-emotional supports in place as well. If you feel that your student is struggling in any way, please reach out to his/her Guidance Counselor immediately so we can work together to support your student.


Conclusion: I believe that we all share a common goal - to get our students and staff back to in-person instruction in a safe manner. Even with comprehensive safety protocols, each expansion of in-person instruction increases the risk of COVID spread among our students and staff - and therefore their families and our community. There are clear benefits to a return to in-person instruction that must be weighed against the risks involved in doing so. When we feel that we can sufficiently mitigate the risks to the point that the rewards outweigh the risks, we will have our students back on campus, even if it's on a part-time basis. This is our primary goal, it is the balance that we are trying to maintain, and it’s what we are working on every single day. There is no proven playbook for this situation and no matter the timeline we elect to employ for our reopening, some members of our school community will be unhappy - some want us to move more quickly and some want us to move more slowly. We are listening to all perspectives, but ultimately we seek to make decisions that we believe best support the learning of our students while also protecting the health and safety of our students, families, and staff.


Thank you for your support of our students and our schools. Our teachers, our support staff, our administration, and our Board of Trustees all want to get back to in-person instruction as soon as we can, but want to ensure that we do so in a manner that is safe for all involved. I look forward to seeing you back on campus soon. 


Sincerely,

Michael Grove, Ed.D.

Superintendent


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Current Fall 2020 Bell schedule (pdf linked here).  

Monday/Thursday


 Odd Day  

Wednesday


Advisory Day - Parent Video

Tuesday/Friday


   Even Day

1st PERIOD (75)                       

Period begins   8:30

Period ends      9:45


Break (20)


3rd PERIOD (75)

Period begins  10:05            

Period ends     11:20 


Break (20)


5th PERIOD (75)

Period begins  11:40   

Period ends     12:55  


Lunch (35)


7th PERIOD (75)

Period begins   1:30

Period ends      2:45

STUDENTS & TEACHERS

Advisory Period (30)    9:00-9:30 a.m.

Attendance required

__________________________________

STUDENTS  

Students will work asynchronously on at least four hours of assigned coursework. The class schedule listed here is intended to provide a suggested structure for students and families.

1st PERIOD (35)    9:30-10:05

2nd PERIOD (35)   10:10-10:45

3rd PERIOD (35)    10:50-11:25

Break (10) 

4th PERIOD (35)  11:35-12:10

5th PERIOD (35)   12:15-12:50

Lunch (35)

6th PERIOD (35)  1:25-2:00

7th PERIOD (35)    2:05 -2:40

__________________________________

TEACHERS  9:45-3:45 

Teachers will engage in department or course-alike meetings, hold office hours for student support, participate in professional development, create instructional plans, etc.


2nd PERIOD (75)                        

Period begins   8:30

Period ends      9:45

Break (20)

4th PERIOD (75)

Period begins 10:05            

Period ends     11:20 

Break (20)

6th PERIOD (75)

Period begins  11:40   

Period ends     12:55  

Lunch (35)

STUDENTS Asynchronous (75) 1:30-2:45

TEACHERS Office Hours 1:30-2:45

Key Features & Expectations during Distance Learning:

  • Attendance: Student attendance is mandatory in each class meeting including the Wednesday morning Advisory period. Attendance will be taken each period and parents will be notified if students miss classes just as they would in a normal school setting. We have yet to receive guidance from the state regarding whether parents will be required to “excuse” absences as they normally would - we will update you once we receive such guidance.
  • Office Hours: All teachers will have regular Office Hours during which students can access support from teachers. This time is intended to support students in a manner similar to how a teacher would support students as they work independently during an in-person class or during a Tutorial time.
  • Advisory: The advisory period will provide an opportunity for schoolwide activities and information-sharing similar to the Tutorial period in the regular school schedule.
  • Instruction: Each class meeting will include teacher-led live instruction which will be paired with independent asynchronous learning activities. This does not mean that teachers will be talking or lecturing throughout the live instruction. Rather, teachers will lead students in a wide variety of activities during each class period (i.e., discussion, collaborative group work, simulations, formative & summative assessment, etc.).
  • Grades: All students will receive A-F letter grades for all courses.
  • Canvas: All teachers will utilize the Canvas learning management system to assign and manage student assignments and for communication with students. We have developed Canvas norms to provide more consistency from course to course.
  • IEP’s: If your student has an Individualized Education Plan, prior to the start of the school year your case student’s case manager will provide you with a document outlining how we will implement your student’s IEP during distance learning.
  • School Year Calendar: Our daily bell schedule will look different during this time but our school year calendar will remain the same. The calendar can be found via this link.
  • First Days of School: The first two days of school (August 13 & 14) will focus on orienting our students to distance learning and other schoolwide activities to support student success and connection. Course-specific academic instruction will begin on Monday, August 17th.
  • Athletics: The CIF’s Central Coast Section, of which we are a member, previously announced that all Fall sports would be postponed until the Winter season so there will be no sports during the Fall this year. Decisions regarding Fall and Winter sports will be made based upon the community health conditions and regulations at that time.
  • Other Extra-curricular Activities: Current guidelines do not allow us to have students on-campus to participate in extra-curricular or club activities in-person. When possible, extra-curricular and club activities will continue online and when guidelines allow and it is safe to do, we will resume in-person activities.

Technology & Internet Access:

In order to appropriately access online instruction, each student will need access to a computer or tablet (not just a cell phone) and internet access. If your student does not have access to one or both of these elements, please contact our IT department at techsupport@lgsuhsd.org as soon as possible and we will assist you.

Pre-School Business:

Each of our schools will send a separate message to students and families regarding their plan to take care of the usual back to school business (check out of instructional materials, etc.) and their plans for a modified freshman orientation.

If we’ve learned one thing since March, it is that we need to develop plans, but we also need to anticipate that public health conditions and resulting guidelines will continue to change so some of our current plans can rapidly become obsolete or require adaptation. Once we have resumed classes, we will continue to seek feedback from students, staff, and families on the successes and areas for growth in our distance learning program. As always, our goal is continuous improvement. Our unexpected spring experiment with distance learning taught us much and we have incorporated these learnings into our program for this fall. Despite this, we still have much to learn and will seek to adapt and evolve as we gain more experience and feedback. Thank you for your ongoing support of our students and our schools.
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Archive - Past Messages from the Superintendent