Although it seems like the school year just ended, the 2020-2021 school year begins in
less than 60 days on August 13th. As you can imagine, our return to school will be like
no other year, and planning for such a year is an incredible undertaking. We know
there is immense worry on the part of parents, students, and staff related to health and
safety on campus, as well as the need to provide the high-quality teaching and learning
experience West Sonoma County Union High School District is known for.
This message provides an update on the process we are utilizing to develop clear
guidelines for return to school as well as flexible options that meet the needs of our
We are utilizing a variety of resources to inform our discussions and decisions
- State of California guidance (Resilience Roadmap)
- California Department of Education guidance (Stronger Together guide)
- Sonoma County Public Health Services guidance (SoCo Emergency)
- Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE: Map to Safe Reopening)
- Feedback from staff and community
- Results from our May survey to students, parents and staff
- Committee feedback and direction for this work: Teacher Work Group, Leadership Work Group, Teacher and classified employee negotiations teams, Partner District Superintendents, Sonoma County Superintendents
- Plans from other School Districts outside of County and State
Our focus is on determining the best scenario to provide
- Adherence to public health guidelines
- Optimal learning opportunities for all students
- Support for our most in need students
- Safety of staff and students
- Social emotional support for student needs
In developing guidelines focused on safety, hygiene, logistics, and operations, we have the following goals:
- Decrease COVID -19 from entering campus (required temperature and symptom screening, remain at home if sick).
- Decrease COVID-19 transmission among staff and students per the state guidelines issued (limited capacity in classrooms, mask use while inside buildings, frequent hand washing, and cleaning, increased time spent outdoors) as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Identify COVID-19 cases in a timely manner, contact trace, and isolate and inform possibly infected students to limit the impact.
- Provide resources for parents, students, and staff on protocols for reopening safely
WSCUHSD has been working in preparation to ensure safe and clean campuses. We are:
- Placing free standing hand sanitizer stations throughout all campuses
- Installing hand sanitizer dispensers in all classrooms and common areas
- Obtaining non-contact thermometers for daily temperature checks for all students and staff upon arrival
- Placing signage throughout campuses to mark 6 ft distance in areas where students congregate
- Procuring additional surgical masks for students and staff. (Staff and students will be asked to bring their own masks that cover both their nose and mouth)
- Complying with all recommendations for increased air flow both passive and non-passive
- Continuing to replace HVAC filters and clean ducts regularly.
- Updating our cleaning protocols and procedures for proper sanitization of all equipment, furniture and facilities for custodial, teachers, and other staff members.
- Establishing medical protocols for school healthcare workers
What we will be asking of staff/students:
- Students/Staff will be expected to follow the most current guidelines from the Sonoma County Public Health Department on mask use.
- Temperature/Symptom health screening checks for students and staff will be administered daily prior to coming onto campus. We will follow the most current guidelines from Sonoma County Public Health. Students who have a temperature or who do not pass the health screening will not be able to attend in-person school that day and will need to get a COVID19 test showing negative before returning to in-person school. Students out of school will join the Distance Learning group during this time.
Our priorities are to have students on campus as much as possible while still complying with the required safety guidelines and still allow options for students and families based on comfort with safety protocols. With fall health and safety guidelines currently unknown and the health situation potentially changing rapidly during the school year, we are developing multiple scenarios that allow our schools to adjust during the year as the guidelines get more or less restrictive.
Return to School Options
Results from our parent and student surveys sent in May show that parents and
students are divided on preferences in school models for the start of the school year.
- Distance Learning 14%
- Hybrid Schedule 23%
- Traditional 41%
- Distance Learning 11% (12%)
- Hybrid Schedule 41% (41%)
- Traditional 39% (43%)
Although a majority of families would prefer a full return to school, the guidance released by state and county health officials does not allow a return to campus at 100% capacity at this time. Based on this data, along with recommendations from theCalifornia Department of Education, the CDC, Sonoma County Public Health, we have identified the following options to meet the needs of our families. The goal is to design a model that has a greater chance of success by limiting contacts and hence the spread of COVID-19.
Option 1: A return to school that allows for social distancing in classrooms.
In this model, students will be on campus one to two days each week. Students will participate in varied amounts of synchronous and asynchronous learning when they are off-campus.
- We are exploring the use of various technology tools to enhance the instructional experience for students who are not in class.
- Smaller groups will give teachers the opportunity to build relationships with students and provide focused instruction.
- This hybrid schedule will allow for a safe return to school while focusing on the social-emotional needs of students and uninterrupted access to instruction.
- We will make every effort to coordinate families with multiple siblings to be on the same schedules.
- Additional days will be designated as work time for students and staff and allow deep cleaning of the schools.
- This schedule will be nimble and flexible; allowing us to quickly transition into full capacity on-campus learning if that becomes safe or full Distance Learning should that be required.
This model will allow for required social distancing in classrooms and other learning activities, temperature and health-checks, and for better supervision of the students to enforce the social-distancing rules. This will also limit the number of students that will be in contact with each other and simplify contact-tracing in the event of a positive case of COVID-19 in a student or staff member.
Option 2: A full Distance Learning program for students who will not return to campus.
We are still studying the details that will allow students to attend school through a Distance Learning model. In this model, students will participate in varied amounts of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Feedback from the Distance Learning Survey is being used to make our Distance Learning model more effective and meet the needs of families and staff.
Option 3: The Independent model will also be offered to families.
Independent Study is a program where students work primarily on their own, through a completely online standards based program, with one hour per week spent with their teacher (can be in person or videoconference).
The models are designed to be flexible, allowing for more or less in-school learning depending on how conditions change over the course of the school year. While COVID-19 is the reason for the current distance learning model, fires, power outages and floods could require temporary school closures and the need to shift to distance learning.
One of our primary concerns is to meet the social-emotional needs of students and staff while continuing to educate students. This is accomplished by building teacher- student and student-student relationships. We are also gathering resources for families to help with a smooth return to school. Whether we are on campus or in Distance Learning, we will focus our work on ensuring students feel connected to school, staff, and peers.
In conjunction with California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and other League
schools, we are making preparations for a return to limited athletic activities beginning
as early as next week. Student-athletes and families will receive information about the
sports clearance process, including physical exams. More specific information will be
provided by individual coaches and school site athletic directors.
We have developed the following timeline for further development of our reopening
plans, informing parents and staff and gaining further feedback from our community:
- June 17th: School Board approves the District’s 2020-21 budget and reviews 2020-21 reopening plans
- June 22-30: Leadership Team will review proposed plans from Teacher Work group and other committees, along with surveys and updates from Public Health Department to determine best scenario for start of school.
- July 3: Notify staff and families of preliminary plans for reopening school
- Week of July 13th: Resurvey families and staff to determine preferences
- July 27th: Confirm scenario for the beginning of the school year with families
- Aug. 13th: First day of school
- Sept 8: Possible shifting of scenarios based on feedback and updated requirements from the Public Health Department.
NOTE: Conditions related to COVID-19 are likely to change throughout the summer. These plans are based on what we know as of this week (6-19-2020).
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate through
these uncharted waters.