Well, it’s been quite a roller coaster ride already for the 2020-21 school year and we haven’t even had our first interaction with students! On Friday, Governor Newsom told all schools who were are on the county Watch List that they could not reopen until they were removed from the county watch list. So, Visalia Unified will open in a full Distance Learning model.
This morning, I am going to answer some questions that I have received to the best of my ability. More questions and answers in my Wednesday update. Here it goes:
In the Distance Learning model, can I teach from home or school?
In our MOU from March until June 30th, you had the choice to teach from home or work at school. I expect that choice to continue. There may be some additional requirements and we are still negotiating this piece. Since many of our teachers have their own young children at home, we are all aware of the child care issue some of you teachers are facing. We are also aware that many teachers do not want to use their homes as a classroom and choose to work at school. That is the best answer I have for now.
Will students be able to receive supplies and technology?
There will be some mechanism to get students both technology and supplies. In some cases teachers are buying supplies for their students. Other sites have bought the materials for their students. Basic needs for elementary students will be provided from what I have been told.
Will there be an extension for doctor’s notes?
Yes, there will be an extension for doctor’s notes. I spoke with Dedi Somavia yesterday and she said that the District Office understood that it was difficult in some cases to get a doctors note during COVID-19. Therefore, there is an extension for the doctors note.
However, there will NOT be an extension for turning in requests to be a Distance Learning teacher for the entire semester. That paperwork must be turned in by July 24th so they can sort students by their parents request (Distance Learning and Hybrid). Clearly, we are all teaching in the Distance Learning model until our county can get off the watchlist.
So, I had many people ask questions about training. Educators should see invitations to attend trainings come out this week. We know that many would like to get their training started yesterday. There will be opportunities to get your training and also make a bit of extra cash. (the going rate has been $150 a day). There are lots of new technology pieces to help our students learn. We are also aware that teachers can not be compelled to do training during the summer and we respect that option as well. We are working on ways to continue training once school opens on August 13th.
VUTA will continue to bring you information as it comes available. Stay calm, cool and collected. There are many unknowns, but we will work on getting things done.
If you are interested in reading more. I left a few pieces of information from various sources for you to read or listen to.
Here is a bit of information if you would like to do some further reading!!
Below is the announcement by Governor Newsom about school re-openings
Here is a little paragraph about what Tulare County must work on.
Tulare County: Tulare County is interesting because not only are they reporting more coronavirus transmission, but also "Increased hospitalizations and ICU utilization have been related to multiple conditions other than COVID-19." Preventing outbreaks at nursing homes and increasing public awareness are two action items for the county
Here is a bit of info on what requirements schools will have to meet:
HOW TO REOPEN SCHOOLS
Schools can physically reopen this fall — but only if they've been off the state's COVID-19 monitoring list for 14 days. If schools don't meet this requirement, they have to start the fall with distance learning. The L.A. Unified School District has already announced that it will be opening with distance learning this fall.
While students, teachers, staff, and parents prefer in-classroom instruction, that's only if it can be done safely, Newsom said, adding that safety is determined by local health data.
Learning in California is non-negotiable, Newsom said, adding that schools must provide meaningful instruction during the pandemic — whether or not they're physically open. However, safety is also non-negotiable for both staff and students, he said.
The governor laid out five elements of the state's school pandemic plan:
Safe in-person school based on local health data
Physical distancing + other adaptations
Regular testing + dedicated contact tracing
Rigorous distance learning
All school staff and students in third grade and above must wear masks under the new guidelines. Students in second grade and below are encouraged to wear masks or face shields, but are not required to do so. The ability to see expressions through face shields is important for younger children, the governor said.
Staff have to maintain at least six feet of distance with other staff and students. The school day should start with symptom checks, Newsom said, and there are expectations around hand washing stations, sanitation and disinfection, and quarantine protocols. Each school site must also have continuity and attendance plans.
Here are 3 criteria that you can have to place you on the watch list.
Case rate and testing positivity rate
A COVID-19 case rate of 100 or more per 100,000 residents over a two-week period exceeds the state's threshold. Alternatively, a case rate of more than 25, plus a testing positivity rate of 8% or greater, also exceeds the state's benchmark.
More than a 10% increase in COVID-19-hospitalized patients over a three-day average. However, counties with an average of under 20 laboratory confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized over the past 3 days are not considered to have met the increasing hospitalization criteria.
Limited hospital capacity - ICU beds, ventilators
This category looks at either the percentage of available ICU hospital beds or the percentage of available ventilators. With ICU bed availability, anything under 20% falls short of the state's benchmark.