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July 28: Update from Superintendent Ken Geisick About Hybrid and Distance Learning Models and Proposed First Day of School Change

Update from Superintendent Ken Geisick

 

 Dear SUSD Families and Staff,

I want to update you on the progress and important developments as we approach the start of school. Santa Clara County remains on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list. At this point, we can definitively state that our schools will open in distance learning for all students. 

At the July 23 Board of Trustees meeting, the board voted to adopt the Hybrid Model A/B school schedule (Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday cohorts) for when school opens for in-person learning. This decision was based on the results from the July 21-24 hybrid model parent survey results AND to allow for adequate time between cohort attendance for classroom cleaning and disinfection.

The instructional/learning options that parents can select from for Fall 2020 are:

  • Hybrid School Model: students will begin the school year as distance learners. When it is safe to do so, students will return to campus as part of a hybrid cohort. Small group meetings with their teacher may take place outside after the start of the year if we are permitted.
  • Full Distance Learning Model: students will remain in distance learning throughout the fall. There is an option to re-enter the hybrid model at the start of spring semester. We anticipate that the full distance learning model will be available in spring. The decision will be reassessed later this year based on public health guidance and vaccine availability.

We’ve held very productive meetings recently with teacher leadership, principals and administrators, parent stakeholders (PTA, SEF), and employee union groups. I’m happy to report that staff is making significant progress in defining what the school days will look like, daily schedules, preparation for distance learning, technology, and teacher training plans.

Later this week, preliminary guidance for parents and families will be shared that will include: detailed descriptions of the two learning model options, school day schedules, safety protocols, and FAQs.  Following the guide publication, parents will be sent a survey to submit their “Return to Learn ticket” by selecting the preferred learning model for their child(ren).

Another significant change is THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL WILL BE MOVED TO MONDAY, AUGUST 17, pending board approval (PDF one page calendar download). The two non-school days on October 5-6 will now be regular instructional days for teachers and students. Shifting the days allows for intense distance-learning training and more preparation time for teachers before school begins. In addition, orientations for new Kindergarten parents, new-to-Redwood parents, and parent technology training will take place during the week of August 10-14. Chromebooks will be deployed to ALL students during that week as well.

With the Governor’s recent health declarations that schools within counties on the COVID-19 monitoring list may not reopen for in person classroom instruction, he did provide an avenue for school districts to apply for a waiver for some in-person instruction. These waivers must be reviewed by both the county and state public health departments. We are learning more about this process and will collaborate with parents, community, and employee groups as we develop our waiver application. At this point, our district’s waiver application will start with high-needs student groups. 

Additionally, we are exploring K-5 childcare options with our Tree House staff, but viability is also pending updated child care rules and health orders from the public health department.

Please be on the lookout for more communication later this week. Be safe and stay healthy.

Ken Geisick Ed. D
Superintendent