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Weekly Update from SRVUSD Superintendent Malloy
Posted 9/18/20

I wish to begin this update by making a few important points as we work through this challenging time and support our students’ learning.  The large volume of emails we are receiving continue to inform us about how personal this situation is for every family, each staff member and every student.  The emotions and convictions that are being conveyed by all stakeholders speak to the commitment we all have for our students.  What unites all of us, regardless of our perspectives, is that we want our children to be learning in a safe and effective learning environment.  How we make that happen is the challenge.

 

My Initial Reflections

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  • We are all grateful to our staff for their outstanding work supporting student learning in a remote environment.

  • Many families have communicated that regardless of the next steps, they are hoping their children can remain with the same teacher. This expectation may be challenging to meet.

  • Stability and consistency are important.

  • Consideration for grading is important.

  • Answering the question, “What is best for students?” is dependent upon considering the needs of each student.

  • Many families want us to return to in-person instruction immediately.

  • Many families are unsure.

  • Some families are interested to return to in-person instruction, but not yet.

  • We are all responding to the pandemic and expectations around the pandemic in different ways.

  • Many have shared concerns about their children’s social and emotional wellness (and the social and emotional wellness of adults, too).

  • Our staff have shared similar reactions and emotions with widely differing perspectives, much the same as our parents/guardians.

 

I am taking the time to share some of these perspectives because they influence how we will move forward.  We will not be able to please everyone with the final decisions that will be made, but promise that all of these perspectives are informing next steps.

 

September 15, 2020 Board Meeting

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At its meeting on September 15, 2020, the Board of Education received a report from staff on how to proceed with returning students to our campuses for in-person learning.  The Board also discussed the importance of a strong remote learning program for those who choose it.

 

Our priorities as we consider next steps are the following:

  • Health and safety of students and staff

  • High quality education

  • Options for families

  • Feedback from all stakeholders

  • Collaboration with steering committee 

  • Negotiations with union groups

  • Adherence to all statutes and guidance

 

A complete version of the presentation made to the Board is available on our website. Please note that the version of the presentation on our website has been revised slightly to correct errors and make adjustments that do not change the content.

 

Some of the highlights from the meeting are the following:

 

Results of the Thoughtexchange

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Thank you to the parents, staff and students who participated.  We received significant perspectives that will inform our next steps. You can view the results of the Thoughtexchange in these reports:

 

Parent/Staff Thoughtexchange Results

Student (6-12) Thoughtexchange Results

 

Plan for Resuming In-person Instruction

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While in the Purple Tier:

Waiver

  • SRVUSD may apply for a waiver for grades TK - 6 to return to school in small, stable cohorts of 14 students with a maximum of 2 adults. These cohorts must have fixed membership, meaning a staff member can only be aligned with one group of 14 students throughout the duration of the waiver period. The Board directed staff to apply for the waiver even though we would have difficulty fulfilling the last requirement.

 

Specialized Small Groups

  • SRVUSD may bring back specialized small groups under very limited conditions. Groups are limited to 16 people (combination of students and adults).  These groups would be run by staff members who volunteer to return, will take place after school hours, and will be focused on socialization and intervention. 

 

Special Education

  • Families of students in the following programs received information from SELPA Executive Director, MaryAnn Frates, today. We are planning a phased-in return to campus for these students during the school day. This could result in teacher/schedule changes.

    • Group 1: 10/26 - Intensive SDC TK-12 and Preschool SDC 

    • Group 2: 11/2 - Moderate SDC, CEP and Adult Transition

    • Group 3: 11/16 - Mild SDC and Infant Program

 

When Contra Costa County Moves into the Red Tier:

Return to In-person Instruction or Remain in Remote Learning:

  • Once the county is in the ‘red’ tier for 14 days, in-person instruction (in a hybrid environment) can resume.

  • Students return to in-person instruction in small, stable cohorts as is practicable based on facility space and physical distancing requirements. 

  • Some days of in-person instruction and some days of asynchronous, independent learning (Schedules are being determined through consultation, negotiations and will be finalized through Board approval).

  • We will continue the remote learning program for those who choose it.

 

Return to School Survey

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It is important that we hear from all stakeholders prior to the September 29th Board meeting that may inform the Board’s decisions. This survey is not a declaration or a final decision. We recognize many families require further information before completing a declaration.  This survey will allow us to gather everyone’s perspective in an organized way prior to completing a declaration.  We are planning to send this survey at the beginning of next week.

 

Declaration

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You will have the option of choosing either an in-person hybrid model or a full remote learning environment for your student. We understand that this is a difficult choice and we want to provide you with as much information as possible so that you can make the best decision for your student and your family. More information will follow in the coming days.

  • Declaration Forms will be emailed from the District on September 30th and will need to be returned no later than October 5th.

  • Dates may change based on direction from the Board.

  • You will be choosing a model for the remainder of the 2020- 2021 school year.  

  • This could result in teacher/schedule changes.

 

When Could We Consider Reopening?

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Without a waiver, schools can open after the county has been in the red tier for 14 days. The earliest date this could happen, if Contra Costa County moved to the red tier next week, would be October 19th.

 

However, the Board will make this decision about when schools will reopen for in-person hybrid instruction.

 

Questions and Feedback

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We appreciate your questions and feedback and we understand that you need information to make good decisions.  Due to the volume of emails we are receiving, please send your questions and feedback to ReopeningTogether@srvusd.net.  We will endeavor to answer all of your questions and we will consider all of your feedback. I have appreciated reading and responding to all of the emails that have been sent directly to me. I will continue to read all of them, even if I am not always able to provide responses to each one.

 

Next Steps

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  • Convene Steering Committees to ensure all stakeholder voices are heard.

  • Negotiate with bargaining units.

  • Send a brief return to school survey to inform the Board’s direction on September 29th.

  • Distribute Declaration Forms after the Board meeting (or at a later time) depending on the Board’s direction.

  • Align schedules between students and staff.

  • Continue to implement health and safety protocols at the sites.


 

Planning Guide

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We are finalizing the Planning Guide that will assist parents and guardians when they are declaring their decisions. This guide will be regularly updated. We will incorporate our Frequently Asked Questions into this document. This document will be posted early next week.

 

Steering Committees

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In a series of meetings next week, the District’s Educational Services team will be gathering stakeholder input regarding reopening plans.  We will begin with a small Collaborative Working Group of staff and administrators that will brainstorm best practices in bringing students back on campus.  

 

This group will then meet with three Advisory Committees - Parents, Students (Secondary and 5th Grade) and Staff - to share ideas and solicit input.  The culminating meeting will be on Thursday evening where all groups will come together to discuss final recommendations.  We will be involving over 100 people representing parents, students, staff, and administrators representing every school in the District.



 

Thank you again for your patience, your flexibility and your commitment as we continue to work in these unprecedented times.