News

PUSD board to consider tentative plan for reopening local schools

State issues new guidance for districts; PUSD aims to 'enable parent choice, when and where possible'

Depending on their grade level, some Pleasanton Unified School District families could either choose an online-based learning option, or take the plunge and send their student for some in-person instruction when school starts next month as re-visioned for the COVID-19 era, under the tentative reopening plan proposed by district staff.

The finer details of those instructional plans -- including how to eventually reopen all 15 sites -- will be combed over by the Board of Trustees during its online special meeting Tuesday night, starting at 6 p.m.

PUSD administration's recommendation calls for remote-only learning for grades three through 12 to start the year, and a hybrid model for transitional kindergarten (TK) through second grade as well as for some special education students and Village High School.

Recently adopted Senate Bill 98 paves a clearer path for California school districts while the coronavirus health crisis continues.

The new law creates minimum attendance requirements and expectations for student-staff interactions, requires a learning continuity plan, and defines "distance learning" and sets expectations for when and how the model can be used at a school or district level. Local agencies are also reaffirmed as the key decision makers and the bill levies fiscal penalties if minimum expectations aren't met.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support PleasantonWeekly.com for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

With a more robust framework now in place, Alameda County school districts "have received approval to return to some level of in person instruction with health and safety precautions in place" when school officially begins Aug. 11, according to PUSD. The district said it will "enable parent choice, when and where possible" for the three proposed learning models to be offered during the pandemic.

For now, the district is recommending remote learning for most grades with the exception of students in grades TK-2, until conditions improve in the region.

A recently updated pre-registration intent data form with 12,130 respondents showed a slight 5% drop but that most families -- nearly 85% -- still prefer a hybrid learning model for their children when classes begin. Students attending school in person would do so on a staggered schedule several days a week "when it is safe."

Much of the reopening plan is unchanged but more details continue to emerge, most notably the new suggested scheduling blocks for hybrid and distance learning with accompanying lists of strengths and challenges.

"School may 'stretch and slide' between temporary distance learning, alternating groups in-person to support social distancing, and full return to 'normal' in-person instruction, pending COVID restrictions," though the district noted that bringing people back to school hinges on adhering to health guidelines and other factors like following strict physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and PPE protocol.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Daily cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, restrooms, common areas and health offices, as well as high touch points like doorknobs, plus access to hand washing sinks with soap or hand sanitizer stations located throughout the schools are listed as top priorities.

Per Alameda County health guidelines, the district is considering the use of electrostatic machines for "deep disinfection between changes in cohorts," and on a weekly basis for stable cohorts. To promote fresh outside air, classroom ventilation systems will be adjusted and new clean air filters added; doors and windows may also be opened where possible.

Desks must be at least six feet apart and arranged to minimize face-to-face contact, though distancing may be relaxed to five feet in order to accommodate more students. PUSD recommends that students bring and use their own supplies and avoid sharing electronic devices, books, games or learning aids.

The use of face masks or shields by students in kindergarten and older will also be required, except when eating or drinking.

Students unable to wear a mask or shield due to a developmental disability or health diagnosis are exempted from the face cover requirement. The Alameda County Public Health Department recommends wearing face shields "with a cloth drape bottom, and tucked into one’s shirt or tied around the back of the neck."

Self-screenings and temperature checks, limited campus access for parents and visitors, and maintaining stable cohorts will also be part of daily life.

Teachers will be able to teach multiple cohorts, as long as they wear a face covering and practice physical distancing, though the district noted, "For younger children, keeping a physical distance from teachers will be difficult, which is part of the consideration and recommendation for stable cohort groupings in the younger grades."

FLEX Academy, a long-term distancing learning option for elementary and secondary school students, was chosen by just over 13% of respondents -- a 4% uptick since the previous survey. FLEX attendees would remain in at-home learning classes for the duration of the semester or trimester, preferably for one year, and be required to participate via Zoom on a fixed daily basis.

Long-term independent study, which does not require daily, in-person or virtual attendance, is another option already utilized by some students for years. Weekly one-hour check-ins with a teacher are required, and "adequate academic progress is expected, but a daily schedule is not provided."

With distance learning expected to be commonplace this year, state legislators added a requirement that districts must ensure students have Internet access and "devices adequate to participate in the educational program and complete assigned work.”

Secondary students are covered but staff has recommended approving a $1.2 million purchase of 3,000 additional Chromebooks for elementary students that still need a device. "Nationwide supplies of these devices are extremely limited at this time, so it is expected that we will be sourcing from multiple vendors using government purchase contracts, piggybacks and cooperative bids to procure these items as soon as possible," staff wrote in a summary.

The devices will be funded from the district's federal CARES Act allocation, which must be spent by the end of the year.

The school board's open meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday (July 14), preceded by a one-hour closed session.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify PUSD administration's recommendation by grade level.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

PUSD board to consider tentative plan for reopening local schools

State issues new guidance for districts; PUSD aims to 'enable parent choice, when and where possible'

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 8:42 pm
Updated: Tue, Jul 14, 2020, 10:43 am

Depending on their grade level, some Pleasanton Unified School District families could either choose an online-based learning option, or take the plunge and send their student for some in-person instruction when school starts next month as re-visioned for the COVID-19 era, under the tentative reopening plan proposed by district staff.

The finer details of those instructional plans -- including how to eventually reopen all 15 sites -- will be combed over by the Board of Trustees during its online special meeting Tuesday night, starting at 6 p.m.

PUSD administration's recommendation calls for remote-only learning for grades three through 12 to start the year, and a hybrid model for transitional kindergarten (TK) through second grade as well as for some special education students and Village High School.

Recently adopted Senate Bill 98 paves a clearer path for California school districts while the coronavirus health crisis continues.

The new law creates minimum attendance requirements and expectations for student-staff interactions, requires a learning continuity plan, and defines "distance learning" and sets expectations for when and how the model can be used at a school or district level. Local agencies are also reaffirmed as the key decision makers and the bill levies fiscal penalties if minimum expectations aren't met.

With a more robust framework now in place, Alameda County school districts "have received approval to return to some level of in person instruction with health and safety precautions in place" when school officially begins Aug. 11, according to PUSD. The district said it will "enable parent choice, when and where possible" for the three proposed learning models to be offered during the pandemic.

For now, the district is recommending remote learning for most grades with the exception of students in grades TK-2, until conditions improve in the region.

A recently updated pre-registration intent data form with 12,130 respondents showed a slight 5% drop but that most families -- nearly 85% -- still prefer a hybrid learning model for their children when classes begin. Students attending school in person would do so on a staggered schedule several days a week "when it is safe."

Much of the reopening plan is unchanged but more details continue to emerge, most notably the new suggested scheduling blocks for hybrid and distance learning with accompanying lists of strengths and challenges.

"School may 'stretch and slide' between temporary distance learning, alternating groups in-person to support social distancing, and full return to 'normal' in-person instruction, pending COVID restrictions," though the district noted that bringing people back to school hinges on adhering to health guidelines and other factors like following strict physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and PPE protocol.

Daily cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, restrooms, common areas and health offices, as well as high touch points like doorknobs, plus access to hand washing sinks with soap or hand sanitizer stations located throughout the schools are listed as top priorities.

Per Alameda County health guidelines, the district is considering the use of electrostatic machines for "deep disinfection between changes in cohorts," and on a weekly basis for stable cohorts. To promote fresh outside air, classroom ventilation systems will be adjusted and new clean air filters added; doors and windows may also be opened where possible.

Desks must be at least six feet apart and arranged to minimize face-to-face contact, though distancing may be relaxed to five feet in order to accommodate more students. PUSD recommends that students bring and use their own supplies and avoid sharing electronic devices, books, games or learning aids.

The use of face masks or shields by students in kindergarten and older will also be required, except when eating or drinking.

Students unable to wear a mask or shield due to a developmental disability or health diagnosis are exempted from the face cover requirement. The Alameda County Public Health Department recommends wearing face shields "with a cloth drape bottom, and tucked into one’s shirt or tied around the back of the neck."

Self-screenings and temperature checks, limited campus access for parents and visitors, and maintaining stable cohorts will also be part of daily life.

Teachers will be able to teach multiple cohorts, as long as they wear a face covering and practice physical distancing, though the district noted, "For younger children, keeping a physical distance from teachers will be difficult, which is part of the consideration and recommendation for stable cohort groupings in the younger grades."

FLEX Academy, a long-term distancing learning option for elementary and secondary school students, was chosen by just over 13% of respondents -- a 4% uptick since the previous survey. FLEX attendees would remain in at-home learning classes for the duration of the semester or trimester, preferably for one year, and be required to participate via Zoom on a fixed daily basis.

Long-term independent study, which does not require daily, in-person or virtual attendance, is another option already utilized by some students for years. Weekly one-hour check-ins with a teacher are required, and "adequate academic progress is expected, but a daily schedule is not provided."

With distance learning expected to be commonplace this year, state legislators added a requirement that districts must ensure students have Internet access and "devices adequate to participate in the educational program and complete assigned work.”

Secondary students are covered but staff has recommended approving a $1.2 million purchase of 3,000 additional Chromebooks for elementary students that still need a device. "Nationwide supplies of these devices are extremely limited at this time, so it is expected that we will be sourcing from multiple vendors using government purchase contracts, piggybacks and cooperative bids to procure these items as soon as possible," staff wrote in a summary.

The devices will be funded from the district's federal CARES Act allocation, which must be spent by the end of the year.

The school board's open meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday (July 14), preceded by a one-hour closed session.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify PUSD administration's recommendation by grade level.

Comments

puzzled
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:04 am
puzzled, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:04 am
13 people like this

I'm surprised that PUSD is even thinking of re-opening in any learning mode other than distance learning given that due to last week's spikes in new COVID cases and deaths, Stanislaus Web Link and San Joaquin Web Link counties in conjunction with the county health officer both sent out letters today indicating they were recommending distance learning only. Also many Alameda County and Contra Costa County school districts have also decided to switch from the hybrid model to remote distance learning in the last week.


Backtoclass
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:39 am
Backtoclass, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:39 am
8 people like this

@puzzled, Pleasanton has only had 156 cases and recoveries in 6 months out of 82,300 residents. That is why. And as an added precaution, they are requiring masks and many other new sanitizing protocols.


jo
Foothill High School
on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:53 am
jo, Foothill High School
on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:53 am
4 people like this

Still have my doubts they will open with anything but distance learning... look at Oakland, Fremont...already announcing full distance learning to start. I dont mind distance learning but they better step up their game big time compared to last qtr.


Mt Diablo Unified and Berkeley Unified remote learning only
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:13 am
Mt Diablo Unified and Berkeley Unified remote learning only, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:13 am
6 people like this

The East Bay Times article this morning announced the MDUSD Board voted last night for distance learning only. Web Link Mt Diablo includes many Contra Costa cities and towns.

The home page for SFGATE says Berkeley Unified is doing the same. Web Link

Not sure why Pleasanton Unified would endanger the teachers and students in the crisis situation with surging COVID-19 cases and lack of hospital beds. It seems that Pleasanton Unified is out of step with the rest of the school districts.


anon
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:26 am
anon, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:26 am
1 person likes this

Take a look at Israel. They had everything under control until they opened up schools.


Actually Read the Proposal
another community
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:28 am
Actually Read the Proposal, another community
on Jul 14, 2020 at 8:28 am
8 people like this

The agenda is linked but I don’t know if the author read the actual proposal? The recommendation is to begin school with TK-2 with an AM/PM model and other grade levels begin remote. There are also specific schedules and instructions for the remote learning. I know many parents and students thought spring instruction was rubbish, but they ignore/don’t know that teachers were only allowed to ask students to participate in a certain amount of hours each week, high school maxed at 3 hours a week/period and less hours for lower grade levels. That means if you had virtual class only one hour a week, you couldn’t even assign much outside of that. Also, teachers saw extremely low participation since if any student was fine with their grade at quarter 3, the grade couldn’t be lowered. Anyway, we all agree Spring semester was a last-minute mess, but Fall remote learning will have MUCH more structure and teachers have a lot more time to prepare and be ready for what remote learning will be. No matter what, some people will be angry but again I really recommend you watch the board meeting and/or go through the linked presentation thoroughly.


Incorrect Reporting
Bonde Ranch
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:03 am
Incorrect Reporting, Bonde Ranch
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:03 am
3 people like this

This reporter got it all wrong. If you read the proposal slides, the recommended options for grades 3 - 12 is to start remote learning in Hybrid for the forseeable future.

Pleasanton Weekly - can you please present factual and quality reporting? This article is a mess.


PapaDan
Danbury Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:14 am
PapaDan, Danbury Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:14 am
14 people like this

I strongly disapprove of any plans to re-open "in-person" classroom activities under the current COVID reality. I do not understand why PUSD would even consider subjecting students, teachers, and parents to such uncertainty and risk. I support 100% distance-learning activities as have already been tried in some Pleasanton schools. I am not impressed by those who say "it hasn't worked out so good." My response: "It's a new idea!! Like any new practice it will require trial and error and experience before we can call it a roaring success." In-person class activities under the current circumstances are irresponsible. It sends a terrible message to students ("your health doesn't matter"), to teachers ("we don't value you"), and to parents ("we are willing to risk the lives of your families"). When the election arrives, my votes for city offices and school board memberships will be strongly influenced by public support for this position. Silence on this topic will not get my vote.


READ BEFORE COMMENT!
Castlewood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:19 am
READ BEFORE COMMENT!, Castlewood
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:19 am
6 people like this

[Portion removed for disrespectful language/name-calling] Before commenting about how PUSD is recommending going back in person, PLEASE read the slide deck. Agenda item #6, slides at bottome of the agenda item. PUSD is recommending ALL REMOTE for 3 - 12 (even in Hybrid until conditions change).

Web Link


PapaDan
Danbury Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:58 am
PapaDan, Danbury Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:58 am
4 people like this

Whether the reporter got the story right or not is irrelevant. It is still incumbent on Pleasanton residents to express their views on the proper way to conduct education in this city as public officials meet to make decisions. However, calling the reporter, or anyone else, [names] is not helpful and diminishes the value of other comments a person may make.


Naveed Khan
Stoneridge Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Naveed Khan, Stoneridge Park
on Jul 14, 2020 at 2:42 pm
8 people like this

PUSD should have a clear policy on educating our children. Putting the onus and responsibility on stressed out parents is not correct. PUSD should have only one option, that is On-Line learning. They should strengthen their skills to impart on-line learning. Do not place parents in such difficult situation to chose one option over the other. PUSD did a poor job in Spring Term in informing families and conducting on-line classes. They need a lot of improvement. A lot!


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 14, 2020 at 5:55 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 14, 2020 at 5:55 pm
3 people like this

We need choices to support the community, not all children learn the same. Provide in class options for those that want it.


DoneDeal
Ruby Hill
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:46 am
DoneDeal, Ruby Hill
on Jul 15, 2020 at 8:46 am
6 people like this

From board meeting vote last night 5-0 vote.

Parents have three choices for school in the Fall:

1. Remote learning start with chance of moving to hybrid with with some in school if conditions change and can be done safely.

2. Flex Academy : 100% remote learning all year

3. Independent Study/Home School


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.