Announcements from ACPHD and ACOE
October 2, 2020 @ 3:00 PM
FINALLY, we have positive news to share. Yesterday, the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) and Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) issued statements on an important health order update announcing the limited and phased reopening of schools. This new order will ultimately allow for elementary schools to begin limited in-person instruction first, followed by reopening timeframes for middle and high school students in the subsequent months.
Although the ACPHD stated October 13, 2020 was the earliest possible open date for elementary schools, we will not return on this day. Per the ACPHD, “The decision and timing of when to open rests with each school and school district, and schools are not required to open if not ready.” We must be confident we have met all state and county regulations (which change on a regular basis) and as a result, are providing the safest possible environment for students and staff before we open our doors to Phase II - The Hybrid Model of our Road to Reopening plan.
There are items on our task list that must be completed before we can announce our official dates or timeframes. While we negotiated many of them during the summer for this period of time, many new requirements have been identified that must be implemented before we are certified to open.
The top items we must complete now include (but are not limited to):
- Obtaining commitments from our staff and community regarding their desire to move to hybrid learning or stay in distance learning. Specific information for how and when this will be obtained will be sent next week.
- You may ask why we have not done this earlier. The answer is that in a constantly changing environment, what a family or staff member may have claimed a month ago could be very different to what they would claim today. To have accurate information, it made the most sense to ask this question once we knew reopening was possible. We need to be able to determine the resources we have at each grade level and subject before we can determine what we will be able to support from a hybrid-learning perspective.
- Re-developing COVID-19 protocols based on the latest language provided to us. You might be surprised to learn that one positive COVID case at a school does not mean it will revert to a full-distance learning environment. Once schools have reopened for in-person instruction (in any capacity), the California Department of Public Health has established these metrics for closing again due to COVID-19:
- If 5% of students and teachers in a classroom test positive for the virus, the classroom would be closed, followed by 14 days of quarantine.
- If a school experienced a 5% positive testing rate of both students and teachers, the entire school would have to close, with everyone subject to 14 days of quarantine.
- If 1 in 4 schools in a district had a 5% positive rate, the district would close for in-person instruction.
- Reassessing possible schedule changes for our hybrid model at an elementary and secondary level due to changing requirements and commitments from staff/families.
- Submitting our comprehensive reopening plan to ACOE and ACPHD for review and approval.
Reopening our schools in a safe manner is a monumental undertaking. Although we are hiking uphill, we are optimistic to see many items we’ve already checked off our lists.
Here is a highlighted version of what’s been done:
- Ensured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available for all classrooms, school sites, and staff members. Our schools are equipped with safety mechanisms, handwashing stations, hand sanitizing stations and supplies, and safety signage.
- Prepared for enhanced cleaning protocols that include sanitization, disinfection, and proper ventilation per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. There has also been special care taken to constantly clean common-touch surfaces (e.g. countertops, door handles, restrooms). Although students are at home, staff have been on campus and our custodial team has done a phenomenal job taking care of our school sites.
- Secured hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations for student and staff use while at school. The District has supplied classrooms with disposable gloves and disinfectant wipes for staff use. Portable hand-washing stations and soap are available at every site, with at least two at every school, with the exception of Dublin High School which shall have at least three stations.
- Completed COVID-19 online training for all staff through Keenan Safe Schools. By August 6, 2020, all of our staff completed two courses of training on Coronavirus Awareness and Coronavirus: Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Workspace.
- Implementing daily screening for staff as indicated by the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), staff members are completing a “Daily Screening Form” prior to the start of each workday. Soon, we will share protocol for families to assist their student(s) in a daily self-screening prior to going to school.
- Increased access to technology to ensure that students and staff are able to seamlessly move between a distance learning and in-person environment by equipping them with laptops, chromebooks, and hotspots. We also applied for and received a grant to obtain Internet hotspots for our families who did not have internet access at home. In addition, we adopted Canvas as our universal learning management system.
- Classroom furniture will be configured to allow for six-foot physical social distancing. Staff who work in a non-traditional classroom setting are being afforded an alternative workspace that allows for six-foot physical social distancing.
- Minimized non-essential visitors and created strict protocols for school and district offices that include asking families to call ahead/schedule an appointment, limiting the number of people in a public area, requiring face coverings and social distancing, and removing all seating areas.
We want our students to return! We also want to make certain they remain healthy. We ask for your continued patience as we move through our final items.
Please stay tuned for our regular update at 5:00PM.
Daniel R. Moirao, Ed.D.
Dublin Unified School District