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September 3: District Updates from Superintendent Ken Geisick
Dear SUSD Families and Staff,
As we wrap up our third week of classes, we want to update you on next steps as we navigate education during a pandemic. However, first allow me to express my gratitude for the dedication and very hard work by our teachers, staff, and parents. We are extremely proud of how everyone has risen to the challenges of distance learning to provide the best education possible for students during a stressful and uncertain time.
Daily attendance rates are over 98%! Staff and families have demonstrated tremendous resiliency during the fire evacuations, internet outages, and Zoom overloads in recent days. Our teachers have gone above and beyond including teaching classes while evacuated and worried about their homes in the fire zones.
The state and county continue to adjust health and school operations directives. We meet regularly with state and county health officials, education officials, and local area superintendents.
Because of the uncertainty of COVID-19, we are maintaining flexibility in the delivery of educational instruction and are prepared to switch between distance learning and in-person instruction, and vice versa, as county COVID-19 conditions and parent/staff readiness allow. Please read the important updates below. We will continue to keep you posted.
Ken Geisick Ed.D
Last week, Governor Newsom released a four-tier system in which counties must show consistent success in stemming the transmission of the coronavirus in order to reopen schools and businesses. Santa Clara County is currently in Tier 1.
Locally, some districts have applied for a waiver which is required during Tier 1 to bring back students for small group instruction. Some private schools who do not have labor negotiations to work through have also applied for the waiver for in-person classes.
In Tier 1, public schools may bring students on campus for 1:1 services and child care only. Once a county enters Tiers 2-4, schools will be able to bring back students for instruction ranging from small groups to in-person classes. A county must be in that tier for at least 14 days and is also dependent on local county health department guidelines before reopening.
If Santa Clara County maintains current status with a possibility to move to Tier 2 on September 8, then on September 22 (14 days) schools would be allowed to reopen under the state's tiered framework unless a more restrictive county directive is in place.
Going forward under the state/county’s Tier 1 designation, we anticipate the following phase-in of in person instruction. Please note that SUSD is taking a deliberative and cautious approach. Our staff and families must have the confidence to return when we are allowed to do so.
Tier 1, Step 1: Afternoon Child Care (now)
Tree House Extended Child Care for grades TK-5 reopened on Monday with 26 students. Health safety protocols and 12:1 cohort ratio set by Santa Clara County Public Health Department specifically for child care operations are in place. We will continue refining our practices so we are prepared as more students return to campus for services.
Tier 1, Step 2: 1:1 Targeted Services
We are in the planning process to bring students to campus for Special Education assessments, English Learner assessments, counseling services, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy services, and Reading Intervention. Services will be held outside or in a classroom with physical distance, air circulation and sneeze guards with only one staff member and one student. We believe these services to be lower risk and the health/safety of staff and students can be safeguarded. We will prioritize student needs and match with staff readiness to return for these services.
Tier 1, Step 3: Small Cohorts
Small groups of students can return for some form of in-person activities in stable cohorts. This phase may present the challenge of matching students who wish to return with the proper credentialed staff who can provide appropriate services and are willing to return.
We may also consider a Tree House style approach of creating a cohort of students from several grades/classes and staffing with an aide to supervise while instruction is delivered online with the students’ teachers of record.
Tier 2: Begin the process to have students return for in-person learning in stable cohorts
As state and county directives permit, we will bring students back for small group instruction with their teacher and begin moving towards a broader reopening with a hybrid schedule. We will continue to offer a full distance learning option during the current school year. When we approach this phase, parents and teachers will be surveyed to determine readiness to return as well as preference for in-person or full distance learning.
Learning Continuity and Attendance
In a normal school year, districts are required to publish a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to the state of California. The LCAP describes goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities. Prior SUSD LCAPs are posted at www.saratogausd.org/lcap.
Starting September 1, the LCAP was modified by the state to now stand for Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan in order to measure indicators during distance and in-person learning. The new LCAP covers areas such as: distance learning program, in-person instructional offerings, mental health and social and emotional well-being, pupil engagement and outreach, child nutrition, learning continuity, services, stakeholder engagement, and assessing if there is pupil learning loss.
In addition, the state has mandated that schools must track both student attendance and level of engagement to ensure no students fall through the cracks during distance learning. The new attendance codes include: present and fully engaged, present and partially engaged, present and not engaged, absent, or tardy. In other words, is a student attending class regularly, are they on time to class, participating, turning in assignments, etc.
If there are attendance and engagement concerns, your child’s teacher(s) and/or administrative staff will reach out. Support including check-ins, restorative practices, counseling, and other wrap-around services will be provided as needed to ensure a successful school year.
Attendance is taken at the start of each school day for grades TK-5th and every class period for 6th-8th. If your student will be absent, call your school’s 24 hour attendance line. If you have concerns please reach out to your child’s teacher or principal.
SUSD is offering free reheatable meals to any student up to age 18. Meals may be picked up from in front of the MPR at all four schools between the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students do not have to be present to pick up a meal and you can go to the school site closest to you. With job losses and uncertainty in our community, we are pleased to be able to offer this meal service so that no child goes hungry.