Tonight’s special Board of Education meeting set for 5 p.m. is expected to go long again, as the district presents its 2020-2021 budget and reviews a revised school reopening plan, among other items on the agenda.
At the last meeting on June 24, Board members and PUSD administrators spent three hours alone grappling with the impact of AB 77 on planning for the fall and hearing public comment on the the District’s “blended learning” proposal. The state assembly bill calls for districts across the state to plan for as much in-person instruction time as possible, essentially taking any distance-learning-only option off the table except under certain circumstances outlined by public health officials.
Over the last week, guidance around physical distancing on school sites has changed, giving districts more leeway in planning for a reopening. On June 26 the American Academy of Pediatrics called for schools to open with as much in-person learning as possible, going as far as saying “spacing as close as 3 ft may approach the benefits of 6 ft” with face coverings, and the Alameda County Public Health Department relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools, allowing for less than 6 ft in a cohort.
In response to these changes, Superintendent Randy Booker will present a new recommendation for a 4 to 5 day per week schedule. It also includes a 100 percent distance learning option for some families and incorporates a 6-week evaluation period to assess whether or not a return to full-time instruction is possible. From the memo:
- Students to attend school 4-5 days per week for in-person learning
under a Blended Learning Model.
- This Blended Learning Model will be supplemented with
structured and scheduled daily distance learning that
includes both synchronous and asynchronous instruction
as performed by certificated teachers and support staff
(Distance Learning Model discussed below).
- All students and staff must wear masks at all times during the
instructional day and to/from school.
- It may be necessary for students who receive services under
SPED/IEP or 504 plans to receive increased time of daily
- Maintain 6’ social distancing in classrooms and during breaks and
- Establishing, to the greatest extent possible, stable student cohort
- 180 minutes of daily instruction for transitional kindergarten and
kindergarten students (as required by AB 77: 43501(a))
- 230 minutes of daily instruction for 1st – 3rd grade students (as
required by AB 77: 43501(b))
- 240 minutes of daily instruction for 4th – 12th grade students (as
required by AB 77: 43501(c))
- Daily attendance recorded for all in-person and distance learning
sessions (as required by AB 77: 43504 (d) (1))
- School sites and educators return to a system of assessments and
grading as was prescribed prior to the closing of schools in March
of 2020. Board Policy 5121 supports academic letter grades and
authorizes the calculation of median grade point averages using a
letter grading system.
- Because AB 77: 43502(c) permits school districts to calculate the
daily instructional minutes through a combination of in-person
instruction and distance learning, the majority of these minutes,
under a possible AM/PM model, will be addressed through daily
in-person learning. The remainder will be addressed through daily
distance learning that includes both synchronous and
asynchronous instruction as performed by certificated teachers
and support staff (Distance Learning Model discussed below)”
The reopening discussion is happening against the backdrop of a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases at the state and national level. Although COVID-19 cases in Piedmont have not increased, on Monday Alameda County announced it would pause its reopening plans due to recent increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Surveys and public comment before June 24 revealed that parents and teachers appeared divided over the best way to move forward, with parents strongly favoring more in-person time relative to teachers.
A petition currently circulating among families with over 700 signatures (parents, students, and community members who do not have PUSD students) is calling for a 5-day a-week plan, an option that was not on the table when planning began for a variety of reasons that included the original social distancing requirements (6 ft apart) that have since been relaxed.
View the PUSD agenda here; includes Zoom link.