Zoom webinar with board discusses return to school in fall 2020


Oracle Staff

On June 17, district board members and associate superintendents gathered virtually in a Zoom meeting in order to discuss the options of reopening school in the fall this year, what measures will be taken in the cases of either full or partial physical returns, and how various other programs, such as athletics, will be treated.

Options for returning

While none have been decided on due to the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic, three options are being evaluated by the district and the state at large. These are: continuing to use only distance learning, using a hybrid of distance learning and returning to campus, and full return to campus, with physical restrictions in play. More specific decisions will follow as advice from the state and county is given.

What is known now is that letter grades will be returning in the 2020-21 school year. Due to the difficulty in switching between in-person and online teaching in the 2020 spring semester, teachers have been using data collected from this semester to inform teachers in higher levels what information may be necessary to revisit next year.

Precautions for physical return

On the last day of school, March 13, the campus was subjected to cleaning immediately, and has since been unoccupied. In the fall it will receive the same treatment, targeting high-touch areas such as doorknobs and desk surfaces.

 The California Department of Education will be supplying districts with personal protective equipment, such as cloth masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer. At least two masks are to be distributed to every student and staff member. Additional equipment, such as no-touch thermometers for temperature checks and hand washing stations, will also be in effect on campus.

In the event of teachers being absent for long periods of time due to COVID-19, the district is collecting more long-term substitute teachers.

Special-Ed plans

According to Director of Special Education, Kristen Hardy, data has shown that students with disabilities during distance learning have had more limited access to resources and higher cases of disengagement. This has created a situation where disabled students will be returning to campus as soon as possible to assure proper support and connections within school.

Sports return to practice

Within county health guidelines, athletic programs on campus are opening up during the summer. Starting on June 22, 12 students and one coach per sport will be allowed to meet on campus for workouts and practice. Proper face coverage and distancing should still be maintained. A permission slip has been given to parents to opt in their student, and details all further requirements.

Mental health concerns and advice

Concerns for student’s mental states have arisen due to declining motivation and sleep schedules, and social isolation. District Wellness Coordinator William Blair gave several resources, such as the California Surgeon General’s Playbook, which advises families and individuals alike on how to manage stress during the pandemic. 

As during the spring semester, online therapy and counceling will still be available during the fall through telehealth. Additional referrals will also be supported.

Plans for virtual learning

An essential part of distance learning is the online platform that students, parents, and teachers use to interact with each other and can receive assignments and announcements on. Over this summer, the implementation of different learning management systems are being considered and tested, such as Canvas or further use of Google Suite.

Virtual community building

One notable challenge of distance learning is the social integration of students and how to build relationships with classmates and teachers one would be unfamiliar with. 

This especially applies with incoming freshman or new students in other grades, so an online orientation will be created by counselors. 

Ideas so far to generally increase a sense of community include requiring everyone’s webcam turned on, smaller class sizes, and the integration of apps like Flipgrid, where students can film and edit videos of themselves to share with the class. Also in consideration are “meet your teacher” videos, filmed by teachers to show a portion of their day or house.