Dear Walnut Valley Educational Community,
To begin, I sincerely hope that you and your family are healthy during these most unprecedented times.
As a parent of students and the spouse of a teacher, my highest priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff … not only their physical and emotional well-being, but also the experience of a high quality academic and educational experience. Furthermore, as part of a family with both parents working outside the home, I empathize with the struggles of families, parents, and educators when students are not physically present in school … both academically and logistically.
I also know that the manner in which we re-open our schools on August 10 is of utmost importance to you … as it is to me as well. I understand that it causes anxiety, as well as frustration, to not yet know what that re-opening will look like at this time.
As we have shared in the past, we rely on the Los Angeles County Public Health to provide us with guidance, direction, and recommendations on how we must proceed. At this point, we have not received those guidelines from Public Health. They were initially going to be released over a week ago, but Public Health decided to wait a while longer until they gathered additional and perhaps more up-to-date data in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we too are anxious to determine and announce what our re-opening will look like, we also feel that it would be irresponsible to make those decisions prior to analyzing the guidelines and recommendations from Los Angeles County Public Health.
What we are doing, however, is preparing for multiple scenarios so that we are ready to make an informed decision with an implementation plan for when Public Health announces its guidelines (hopefully in the next week or so). I appreciate the partnership and collaboration with over 200 members of our Task Force and Focus Groups on Re-Opening Schools, our employee associations, and our community in gathering meaningful feedback and developing high quality plans. I also appreciate the more than 6,000 parents who have completed our survey and thus voiced their opinions.
Again, while we are unclear as to exactly which plan we will implement at this time, as previously shared, we have three broad approaches that we are developing:
· Full-time, traditional, in-person instruction (while implementing Public Health recommended safety protocols to the best of our ability)
· Split-schedule approach where approximately half of the students in a particular class/school attend two days per week (the other half of the students attend a different set of two days per week), while working from home on the other days, in an attempt to minimize the people on campus and an increased practice of social distancing (while implementing Public Health recommended safety protocols to the best of our ability)
· 100% Distance Learning approach (adhering to new state guidelines for high-quality instruction and student accountability)
We are also working on a plan to allow students (with health and/or family considerations) to opt into a 100% Independent Study/Distance Learning approach if we choose to implement a full-time or split-schedule in-person approach.
The other consideration is to start the school year with one of the three approaches above, but only for a relative short period of time (perhaps a month) and then reassess the data, study the effects of different implementation plans from surrounding school districts, and evaluate possible updates and revisions to recommendations from Public Health and then adjust our plan accordingly.
We know that during this time of uncertainty, as observed just this week in Los Angeles County and across the state, even the best laid plans are subject to change. We recognize that this situation is extremely fluid and we are continually monitoring the data and direction of our public health officials.
Again, we hope to provide additional clarity and direction to you in the near future.
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions and/or concerns.
Robert P. Taylor, Ed.D.
Walnut Valley Unified School District