Dear South Bay Parents/Guardians and Community Members,
It seems unbelievable that we are quickly approaching the last days of school for the 2019-2020 school year! We have faced many challenges since mid-March and I thank you for your flexibility, understanding, and patience as we continued learning for our students and ensured the health and safety of our community.
Two topics have been dominant in education circles in the last few weeks. When will schools reopen? How will they reopen with the devastating financial challenges facing our state and our schools?
Governor Gavin Newsom surprised Californians when suggesting that schools open in July/August to make up for the growing concern about students’ learning loss. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that he is working with groups of leaders from throughout California and the nation to study in-depth the questions that must be answered, and what measures must be in place, before it is determined whether schools can safely re-open as early as July or August. Be assured, no decisions about returning to school have been made yet.
The South Bay 2020-2021 District Calendar indicates the start of school on July 20, 2020. However, we are considering other options and are working with the Sweetwater Union High School District (and South County elementary Districts) and our union leaders to develop alternatives. Reopening schools can only be done when we are confident we can protect the health and safety of everyone in our school community.
With that in mind, we are developing a Strategic Recovery Plan, which includes several teams to make recommendations on education delivery, school operations, and health and welfare among others. It’s possible that we will need to continue some form of remote learning to maintain social distancing. What will that look like, and what resources need to be in place to make that possible? We are exploring several scenarios, including a “hybrid” distance learning model in which students physically attend school certain days of the week and utilize distance learning on the other days. Questions that need to be answered include:
How many students may be in a classroom to ensure appropriate physical distancing?
How might school schedules and class schedules be modified?
How do we schedule in ways that ease family schedules and needs?
How do we make arrival to school, recess, and lunch safe?
We also anticipate the need to purchase everything from additional cleaning supplies to thermometers to face coverings/masks. This added expense comes at a time of the worst state budget gap since the Great Recession. Schools will be asked to do more in the 2020-21 school year than ever before, radically transforming campuses and implementing rigorous health and safety protocols. We ask for your patience and support as we go through the careful and thoughtful process of collaboratively developing a plan for reopening our schools.
We will continue to provide updates and announcements on the District website throughout the summer. Have a wonderful break and please stay safe and encourage others to do the same.