Cabrillo Unified School District schools will begin remotely Aug. 17 after the CUSD governing board approved parts of a proposed return to school plan on Thursday night.
The full plan, not voted on in its entirety yet, allows for a week of preparation time for teachers starting Aug. 10 before orientation and classes begin remotely the following Monday. Developed by a 30-person steering committee of teacher, staff, parent and district representatives, the plan includes slowly moving to in-person instruction via a hybrid model that prioritizes special student groups and utilizes outdoor campus space. Students will have the option to take fully remote or independent study tracks if they wish. The plan also calls on a task force to lead the transition between phases in consultation with school community representatives and reporting to the district and school board.
“We want to utilize a phase-in model to allow parents to remain in the 100 percent remote model or transition,” Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Leticia Bhatia said. “We have to remember to be flexible.”
Principals James Barnes and John Nazar, who presented on the specifics of Cunha Intermediate and Half Moon Bay High school plans, explained that initial plans for eventual in-person phases feature upper grades in morning-only in-person instruction with asynchronous afternoons and Monday fully remote. At the elementary level, Principal Martha Ladd said schools are planning for eventual in-person instruction in both the morning and afternoon with midday and Wednesdays reserved for cleaning. Their schedules are designed not to change as the phasing progresses, proposing an A/B split according to last name to keep families on the same schedule and to create fairly balanced cohorts. Barnes and Nazar said the change between phases may be delayed more than they originally thought.
“We want to be sure we’re ready before we introduce that kind of contact,” Barnes said.
Community reactions to the plan were mixed. Some parents called for an in-person start, citing a lack of technology and childcare resources as barriers to remote learning. Others said full distance learning was the only option they’d be comfortable with. Many had questions about the details of each plan and how to accommodate individual schedules and student needs.
One consideration for the board was Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement last week that any county on the state’s watchlist will have to keep schools closed for at least two weeks. So far, San Mateo County has not been on the watchlist, but may join soon due to rising case and hospitalization numbers. Also on the table now is Senate Bill 98, which Newsom signed June 29 requiring 180 days of instruction and connectivity for all, which led the board to approve both synchronous and asynchronous learning — live video classes versus structured and sometimes recorded study units, respectively — as instructional minutes during Thursday’s meeting.
The reopening plan was the only item on the agenda for the special meeting, which was scheduled after access issues last week led board members to delay a decision on the topic. At its height, there were more than 150 attendees on Zoom and two dozen people watching on Youtube Live.
At the end of the meeting, board member Lizet Cortes-Ronquillo called for better attention to reaching Spanish-speaking community members in both written and verbal communications to make the decision-making process more inclusive.
Superintendent Sean McPhetridge implored the board to make its decision according to the information available at each stage, saying the status of local health orders can and will continue to change.
“For those of you who don't have a tolerance for ambiguity, I understand,” McPhetridge said.
In the coming weeks, Bhatia said, parents are going to be asked to choose between the fully remote or phased-in plan. They will also have the option to choose an independent study plan, which relies more heavily on parent instruction and features fewer check-ins.
Maybe I'm missing something here but there is not going to be additional classified or certified staff handling classes so what's the point of the hybrid model? If student A comes to class and doesn't know they are sick and passes it to the teacher and then the teacher gets it they can easily pass it to the next cohort of students. If you have people acting as a virus reservoir between student cohorts it really makes no difference if you combine the kids or not because they aren't protected in a different group.
Today’s letter from the Superintendent states, “We are exploring how increased technology access and connectivity can be provided to students in the fall, pending available funding from both state and federal governments.”
Waiting is a mistake. I heard lots of talk during the meeting last night about utilizing outdoor spaces. Low engagement last Spring was a problem. While the Chromebook loaners are great, they’re not very useful when you have no connectivity at home.
Perhaps the campuses could be equipped NOW with WiFi for students. Students could access these areas during the times when they’re supposed to be online for synchronous / asynchronous sessions and for homework. Attendance will be required in the Fall and CUSD cannot leave a large number of students offline when school begins on August 17th. My experiences with the Tech Team folks last Spring were outstanding. They’re very capable. Give them the resources NOW to wire up the outdoor spaces, PLEASE!
As a parent who is pretty anxious about how this school year is going to work out and who is struggling (like most) to balance work and home, I really and genuinely appreciate this plan from CUSD and the involved stakeholders. This combines a clear plan to aggressively return to in person classes with options for parents and students who are concerned with returning to the classroom.
Thank you and good work to each community member and educator involved in this process.
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Do not start in person classes until there is an efficacious vaccine available to all... do not risk the teachers' lives, the administrators' lives, other's lives who come in contact with the children, and/or the children's lives!
That makes the most sense. The hybrid model makes the least amount of sense unless you have a new set of teachers and classified staff for each cohort of kids. If not, there is no point of having the kids come in on different days.
The fully remote plan at the high school uses Edgenuity which means that students who choose online will not have access to a teacher who teaches them. The role of the teacher in this program is to merely open access to tests as students go through at 100% asynchronous and I would say remedial approach to covering content. Our kids deserve teachers, especially in the midst of a global pandemic that is leaving people feeling disconnected.
Thank you for writing this. I came in to point out the same thing. Why would 100% remote students be shunted out of their classes and away from their teachers and classmates to a remedial software package? I can't imagine our teachers want to be replaced with a software package, either. CUSD schools will end up doing 100% remote learning for some time anyway, or going in and out of remote learning -- why not fully plan, train, and fund for that?!
agreed. I fully support a 100% distance learning option. This is what I will choose for my two high schoolers. However, I know quite a bit about Edgenuity and I know that we would be signing our kids up for a completely inadequate alternative. I encourage people to do their own research on Edgenuity -- none of it is good other than the money the district would save. I have supported, advocated, and worked in and for public education for 2+ decades and this would leave me with no reasonable choice but to remove my kids from the school. If others do this, it would pose further crisis to the district due to reduced funding based on enrollment. I believe many teachers want to teach remotely. Families should have that option and not sacrifice their children's wellbeing (emotional, intellectual, social) for the sake of the budget and poor planning. A number of bay area districts have committed to being completely online for the Fall which would allow safety for teachers and clarity for parents. Right now, we are researching public and private online alternatives to be ready in the event that the District and High School do not change course.
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