Dear Evergreen Community,
As you are aware, the Evergreen School District's Safe Together Schools Reopening plan approved by the Evergreen Board of Trustees on July 15, 2020 directed staff to develop a hybrid learning model, which is tentatively scheduled to be implemented in January 2021, when students return from Winter Break, depending on whether Santa Clara County is still in a county risk level that allows for schools to be open.
In August 2020, the Governor of California released information about a four-tiered system for counties based on COVID19 test positivity and case rate, for loosening and tightening restrictions. On October 13, 2020, Santa Clara County moved into Tier 3, or orange level. In the orange tier, schools may reopen for in-person instruction based on state and county guidance. First, we want to clarify that the Evergreen School District's timeline to implement the hybrid learning model has not changed, despite the state's revised criteria.
At the same time, we recognize that many steps must be taken before the district can consider reopening at any level. For this reason, the Evergreen School District has begun implementing the following steps:
- Reconvening the Superintendent's Teaching and Learning in Safe Environments Advisory Committee (TLSEAC) to review and discuss the county guidelines and hybrid model. This committee has 89 members, including ESD staff from all bargaining units, administrators, staff members and parents. The charge of the committee is to address four Guiding Principles: health and safety, flexibility, students' social emotional well-being, and learning;
- District staff continues to assess readiness for opening schools based on the California Department of Public Health guidelines;
- District leaders will be meeting with student representatives to include their input in this process;
- District leaders are meeting with representatives of the two bargaining units for their input and feedback from their members; and
- Parents have been surveyed to determine their preferences and level of comfort with returning their child to campus in the hybrid model.
The Superintendent's Teaching and Learning in Safe Environments Advisory Committee met this evening and will meet again next week to solidify their recommendations regarding the hybrid model. During tonight's meeting, the committee was provided data about the current COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County, results of the parent survey, and considerations related to the hybrid schedule. I will utilize this committee's recommendation, along with parent, student and staff input in developing my recommendation to the Evergreen Board of Trustees at its November 12, 2020 meeting.
The District's ability to proceed with the hybrid model will rely on several considerations:
- The county's COVID-19 restriction phase and number of COVID-19 cases;
- The availability of teachers and staff to teach in this model from the classroom;
- The implementation of required health and safety measures, which will require reinforcement by teachers, staff and parents;
- Feasibility for facilities to support safe distancing of student cohorts indoors in the classrooms and other areas of campus; frequency of required cleaning in the hybrid schedule; and ability to install required air ventilation by January 2021;
- Impacts on the quality of teaching and learning that may change if the district brings students back to in-person learning in a hybrid learning model;
- Ability to maintain stable cohorts on campus;
- Potential of disruptions to on campus learning due to increases in COVID-19 cases, necessitating a transition back to distance learning for all students;
- Addressing the needs of the district's highest need students and students who are struggling academically; and
- Parent preferences to return to hybrid versus continuing distance learning.
While we eagerly anticipate the return of our students to each of our school sites, it is critical that we take a cautious approach and address all safety concerns before considering reopening schools in our district. The safety of our staff, students and families has always been and will continue to be a top priority in our district. We also want to emphasize that parents will continue to have the option of distance learning for their student when and if the district transitions to the hybrid model this school year.
The District will continue to share regular updates about this process, and will post these updates and information on the Evergreen Safe Together website at www.eesd.org/safetogether.