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9/14 Message from Superintendent Burns re:school reopening information
Posted 9/15/20

School Reopening Information

9/14/20

 

Dear Moraga School District Parents and Guardians,

On Tuesday, September 8th, I presented information regarding reopening school scenarios to the Moraga School District Governing Board. Three scenarios were presented and discussed.  No action was taken.  A summary of the three reopening scenarios can be found in the presentation document I presented to the Board.  Below is additional information about the three reopening scenarios.

The Moraga School District has reviewed all of the relevant reopening guidance for schools from the public health agencies at the State and County level.  We’ve also analyzed the recently released Blueprint for a Safer Economy which simplifies the State’s COVID-19 status into various colored tiers relative to County COVID-19 risk levels. The Blueprint for Safer Economy makes clear distinctions between several risk levels and clearly articulates that schools may reopen in a hybrid model when our county reaches the red “substantial” level.  

Current guidance and the Blueprint for Safer Economy show three scenarios to move toward in-person interactions for students in Contra Costa County public schools. Only two of these scenarios are viable options for the Moraga School District.  

Option 1 is a waiver.  The waiver checklist from Contra Costa Health Services identifies fourteen specific plan requirements, ranging from cohorting to triggers to switching to distance learning to testing of students and staff.  To apply for a waiver, a school or district must demonstrate it can manage individual cohorts of no more than 14 TK-5 students only and with no more than two adults.  Per this waiver requirement, the one or two adults serving one cohort of 14 (or less) students may not serve any additional students.  In order to comply with this requirement while the county is in the “widespread risk level”, MSD would need to double its teaching staff and classrooms.  A waiver is not a viable option.

Information for Option 2, or “Guidance for Small Cohorts/Groups of Children and Youth”, was published by the CA Department of Public Health on August 25, and subsequently updated on September 4. “Guidance for Small Cohorts/Groups of Children and Youth” provides guidance for necessary in-person supervision and limited instruction, targeted support services and facilitation of distance learning in small group environments for a specific subset of children.  Small groups are defined as a stable group of no more than 14 children and no more than two supervising adults. The one or two adults may only work with one stable group of 14 or less children. The MSD is planning for this scenario.

The third scenario is the implementation of a hybrid schedule where students come to school in cohorts and where instruction is a combination of in-person and asynchronous learning.  Should Contra Costa County COVID-19 rates decrease and the county moves to the red or “substantial” level, schools can reopen in 14 days.  Per this scenario, the limits on adults interacting with students are lifted, however, physical distancing, wearing masks and hygiene practices continue.  Also per this model, schools are required to implement COVID-19 testing plans and train contact tracers.    

The MSD has prepared plans for the second and third scenarios. All plans prioritize student and staff safety.  When the county moves to the “substantial level”, a Governing Board meeting will be called to present reopening plans and to invite public comment.

The District recognizes the great interest for schools to reopen.  We will continue to study new options and current scenarios with a keen focus prioritizing safety.  To this end, I have reconvened the Task Force to Reopen School - Public Health Subcommittee, comprised of staff, parents, and medical doctors, to review, adjust and improve plans to reopen schools.

The MSD remains committed to explore all options to reopen school as soon as possible, within the guidance provided by state and local agencies, and as safely as possible.

Sincerely,

Bruce K. Burns, Superintendent