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Date set for return to in-person learning

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As health conditions continue to improve, San Juan Unified has announced that families will have the option to return to modified in-person learning starting Jan. 5. Special education students with moderate to severe needs who are served in self contained classrooms will have the opportunity to return to modified in-person instruction beginning Nov. 2.

Superintendent Kent Kern shared with members of the board of education that the district’s plans for a return to classrooms have continued to grow and be modified based on changing conditions, updated health guidance from state and local officials and close observation of other schools and districts in surrounding communities as they have returned. Many of those other schools and districts have opened with hybrid systems like the one called for in San Juan Unified’s July plan. In reviewing the implementation of these models, staff found that in many cases there was less instructional time with teachers and significant classroom reassignments were necessary. 

Given the challenges observed in other districts, the revised guidance from health officials and changing circumstances, an agreement has not yet been reached with the district’s employee groups on what the final instructional model might look like. Focused and collaborative conversations are ongoing with the intent to finalize details of a model so that it can be shared with students, families and teachers as soon as possible and no later than Dec. 1. 

The current conversations would see students placed in groups A, B or C. Groups A and B would attend in-person classes at alternating times. Group C would remain in distance learning full time. 

You can view the Powerpoint presentation shared at the board meeting or watch the entire conversation

 

Why Jan. 5? 

San Juan Unified has committed to offering families the option to remain in a distance learning format if they feel that is the best option for their circumstances. Returning middle school and high school students to classrooms mid-semester while still offering a distance learning option is not possible as it would require rescheduling students into new classes before completing their current courses. 

Given the need to review revised health guidance to ensure compliance, safety and the complexities of transportation and scheduling involved, the earliest elementary grades could have potentially returned is likely the first of December. Returning right at the height of the holiday season presents challenges from both a safety perspective as families and groups are likely to gather and from a disruption perspective as it is typically an unusually busy and stressful time of year already. Ultimately, staff determined that a smoother and better supported transition that can ensure safety and minimize the need for classroom reassignments can be made after the winter break. 

 

Next steps

School and district staff will continue to work with employee groups, families, students and community toward the following tasks and objectives: 

  • The previously planned and announced survey of families to select their preference between in-person or distance learning options has been delayed but will be deployed by the end of this month. Feedback from parent groups regarding the survey was clear that it will be most useful if an accurate picture is provided of the instructional model so that families can make informed decisions. 
  • Health and safety staff are reviewing revised county guidance on school reopenings to incorporate the latest recommendations into plans supporting in-person learning and response to COVID-19 exposures and infections. 
  • A public dashboard will be deployed listing COVID-19 exposures and confirmed cases impacting San Juan Unified schools.
  • Conversations will continue to finalize modified in-person learning instructional model options that protect student, staff and community safety while maximizing teaching and learning opportunities to the greatest degree possible. Details will be shared with families, students and staff no later than Dec. 1.