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February 27: 3rd-8th Grade Reopening, On-Ramp Days, and New Student Enrollment

3-5th grade reopening photos

Dear SUSD Families and Staff,

Our elementary school campuses are bustling with students and teachers on campus! 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders joined the younger TK-2s this past week. 270 TK-5th grade students are now back in the classroom for in-person Hybrid Learning. An additional 24 elementary students are enrolled in Learning Lab so they can stay with their teacher but distance-learn in an on-campus setting.

We look forward to welcoming 6th graders this coming week, starting March 4! Their Return to Learn Ticket preferences were:

  • 53% of 6th families want to keep their child in Distance Learning
  • 24% are ready to return for in-person Hybrid Learning
  • 23% prioritized staying with their core teacher in either Distance or Hybrid

The Redwood office team is hard at work to best accommodate return-to-learn preferences, balance in-person class cohorts sizes to safely meet distancing recommendations, and minimize teacher changes to the extent possible. If you are unfamiliar with Redwood student schedules, 6th grade students have 7 class periods: 3 periods of Core (Social Studies, Language Arts, Literature), Math, PE, Science, and an elective. The new 6th Grade Hybrid schedule is designed around the 3-period core class, alternating mornings with the core-class stable cohort on campus and non-core classes synchronously at home. Distance learners livestream with their cohorts. 6th grade families will receive notifications soon with their child’s schedule.

The state has updated guidance for reopening grades 7th-12th. Per the new guidance, as soon as a county moves into the Red Tier, these grade levels are allowed to reopen. Based on current metrics, the health department anticipates that Santa Clara County will enter the Red Tier on March 3. SUSD plans to reopen grades 7th-8th for Hybrid in-person learning on Monday, March 15. The March 15 date was selected to align with the end of the grading period AND give time to the Redwood team to adjust student schedules based on the Return To Learn ticket results. Creating the Hybrid Learning schedule for 7th-8th is more complex than 6th grade in that core classes are only two periods, along with Science, Math, PE, and 2 elective classes per student.

7th and 8th grade families will receive their binding Return to Learn ticket on March 5, due March 9. The Parent Information Meeting will take place on March 8 at 6:00 p.m. with Principal Steve Hamm, Superintendent Ken Geisick, and Assistant Superintendent Moira Barker. Due to meeting size capacity, ONLY parents/guardians of Redwood 7th and 8th Graders should attend this meeting. The Zoom link will be sent with the Return To Learn Ticket.

The on-ramp dates for students currently in Distance Learning who wish to return to Hybrid have been adjusted based on our learnings, grading periods, county health guidelines for maintaining stable cohorts, and the desire to minimize class disruptions. There will be a singular on-ramp date instead of two:

  • Grades TK-5 on-ramp: March 29
  • Grades 6-8 on-ramp: April 12
  • Return to Learn Tickets and Parent Meetings will take place prior; parents will be notified via eNews.

In other very good news, COVID-19 vaccinations for educators are underway! Several staff members who reside in other counties have already received their first dose. Many of our staff have secured appointments in the next two weeks for their first doses. SUSD continues to provide regular on-site COVID-19 testing for staff.

For families returning for in-person instruction, it is strongly recommended that your child be tested for COVID-19 before starting school. The county recommends that students coming onto campus be tested every two weeks while in the Purple and Red tiers. Contact your healthcare provider or book via sccfreetest.org. Families should also prepare by printing the Top-10 Return to Campus Reminders and downloading the latest version of the ParentSquare app (iOSAndroid) in order to access the daily health screen.

Lastly, spring time is registration season where we enroll our new 2021-2022 Kindergartners and children in the process of moving into the district. Visit saratogausd.org/enroll for information. Current SUSD families with younger siblings entering school should enroll in March in order to maintain sibling priority placement.

Our teachers and staff have stepped up to the tremendous challenges of distance learning and now the hard work to successfully reopen schools for in-person learning. We are profoundly grateful for their dedication to students and families. We are also encouraged by the positive tone taken by teachers, staff, students, and many of our parents. Your kind words and teamwork are truly appreciated.

Have a good weekend.

Ken Geisick Ed. D.
Superintendent