Dear ESUSD Parents, Employees and Community,
The purpose of this communication is to provide you a comprehensive update regarding the reopening of school this fall. As I have shared in previous communications, board meetings and virtual town halls, the school district is required to follow the forthcoming health order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH). In an effort to be transparent, ESUSD has made every effort to communicate the anticipated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the reopening of schools throughout the entire thought process, under ever-evolving conditions. As early as the town hall held May 18th, various panelists and I previewed that schooling in the fall would likely be different as we apply social distancing protocols in a classroom setting.
First Day of School
Our first day of school will be Wednesday, August 26, 2020. Based upon the impending health order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) to address the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts throughout the Los Angeles County are faced with the realization that we will be unable to offer in-person schooling five days a week. Once LACDPH releases the health order addressing school reopening, I will share the link. After much consideration of allowable options, the El Segundo Unified School District intends to offer two educational options for students and families in the fall of 2020 that will meet the required social distancing and LACDPH health order directives.
ESUSD Educational Options for Fall
Option 1: Hybrid Learning Grades TK-12 - Students attend school two days per week (either T/Th or W/Fri) and participate in remote instruction three days per week. This option allows for half of the students to attend school in person at a time to comply with social distancing and other health protocols. Standardized Learning platforms include Seesaw (Grades TK-2), Altitude Learning (Grades 3-8) or Schoology (Grades 9-12) have been added to enhance and streamline programs; teachers are receiving training on the new platforms this summer and parents will be given instructions and support in the Fall. The three days of remote learning will include teacher check-ins daily. Following consultation with the reopening committee, elementary and secondary hybrid remote learning elements will be forthcoming.
It is important to note that in the event there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a class, grade level or entire school, selection of the Hybrid option does not preclude the need to shift immediately to distance learning for a determined period of time when persons associated with the facility become ill with COVID-19. In addition, we are still awaiting further clarification from the LACDPH health order for specifics regarding athletics and California Interscholastic Federation regarding athletic season schedules.
Option 2: Full Distance Learning - Students participate in remote learning five days per week with no in-person contact with the teacher.
For Distance Learning Grades TK-5, the curriculum will align with the units taught at Richmond and Center Street Schools and will include some form of daily video conferencing whether in whole group, small group, or individual check-ins. Teachers will meet with each grade level or group daily to promote a sense of community and incorporate social emotional learning activities. Standardized Learning platforms include Seesaw (Grades TK-2) or the Altitude Learning (Grades 3-5). Teachers will receive additional training in this area.
For Distance Learning Grades 6-12, students will be assigned to an ESUSD teacher and use the Arizona State University Prep Digital (ASUPD) curriculum. Teachers will be trained in the curriculum and appropriate learning platform. More information can be found here. ASUPD is a highly engaging and research-based online program that meets A-G requirements (which is important for high school students). Most work is online, but teachers will conduct daily check-ins with students and hold a weekly "live lesson" with students. Students would remain enrolled in their current school, either ESMS or ESHS, but receive education remotely.
Safety Protocols for Hybrid Option
I would like to share with you the district-wide safety protocols that will be instituted on campuses to better inform your decision regarding whether or not you are comfortable having your child attend school in person this fall. ESUSD’s schools will reopen with significant restrictions on in-person class size, enacting cohorting of students when possible, controlling student mobility and reducing intermingling to the degree possible. Social events such as assemblies, family nights, or field trips are prohibited per the order.
District-wide Safety Protocols:
- Prior to arrival at school, all ESUSD personnel conduct a COVID-19 symptoms check which includes taking his/her temperature, prior to reporting to work each day. Any ill personnel will remain home.
- Prior to arrival at school, parents conduct a COVID-19 symptoms check of their children which includes monitoring temperature. Any sign of illness, the child should remain at home.
- All teachers and all students are required to wear a face covering. Rare exceptions will be made for students at risk of a serious medical consequence. Others in contact with that student would require a medical-grade protective face covering.
- Student desks will be placed to allow six feet clearance for social distancing when seated. In a space where that is impossible, partitions will be set up between desks.
- Parents should teach and reinforce the importance of washing hands, avoiding contact with one’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes. Teachers will reinforce these practices at school.
- Hand washing routines will be practiced at staggered intervals, before and after eating; after coughing or sneezing; after being outside; and before and after using the restroom.
- Students and staff will use hand sanitizer when handwashing is not practicable. Sanitizer must be rubbed into hands until completely dry. Children under age 9 will use hand sanitizer under adult supervision.
- Portable hand washing stations will be added to areas on campus to minimize intermixing of classroom groups to the extent practicable.
- Adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors will be provided.
- Personal protective equipment will be procured and distributed to staff, teachers and students.
- Drinking fountain usage will be suspended and students will be encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and refill at the school’s water bottle filling stations.
- Approved cleaning products for use against COVID-19 will be utilized.
- All staff share in the responsibility for cleaning.
- Custodians will be equipped with personal protective equipment to disinfect and clean classrooms with emphasis on frequently touched surfaces.
- Reception areas will have plexiglass barriers installed.
- All students will be seated in one direction unless adequate distance exists between seats or a barrier is placed between them
- No outside visitors or volunteers will be permitted.
- Outdoor spaces will be utilized for teaching where practicable.
- Lunch distribution plans have been developed to serve individual, pre-packaged, “grab and go” meals.
- Exposure response protocols will follow the LACDPH order and California Department of Public Health guidance such as “Identify isolation room to separate anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. Individual will wait in isolation area and contact family for immediate pick-up. For serious injury or illness, school personnel will call 911.”
Eagle’s Nest and Elementary Specific Safety Protocols
- Students will remain in the same classroom space and cohort group to the greatest extent possible.
- In-person three and four year old class size is limited to 10 students.
- In-person transition kindergarten through third grade class size is limited to 13 students.
- In-person fourth and fifth grade class size is limited to 17 students.
- Students will use individual supplies and not share items.
- Staggered arrival and drop off times and locations will be implemented when practicable.
- Staggered recess and lunch times to limit cohorts at play at any one time.
- Designated routes will be established for traffic flow in hallways and stairways.
- Recess activities will be scheduled in separated areas outdoors, designated by class.
Secondary Specific Safety Protocols
- Secondary class size is not to exceed 18 students.
- Partitions will be used in classrooms when needed.
- Designated routes will be established for traffic flow in hallways and stairways.
- All personnel will assist with reminding students to practice social distancing practices and not congregate.
Survey and Registration for Program Option
A survey will be distributed next week in order for families to once again indicate their informal preference on educational option for fall. The survey will provide us with current understanding regarding program preferences based upon the more detailed information now provided regarding the aforementioned two school options.
The week of July 27th, in order to staff each program appropriately, the school district will be requesting families formally register and commit and select either the Hybrid or Full Distance Learning option. The submission deadline for option preference is July 30th. The district will distribute personnel based upon the parent selection of what program option best meets their individual needs. Program selection will be for the entire first semester, and no switching between programs will be permitted.
Eagle’s Nest is an optional fee-based preschool program that will also be impacted and follow the LACDPH health order. LACDPH requires a ratio of 10 students to one adult in this program. Guadalupe Grijalva, Executive Director of Preschool will be communicating directly with families regarding program changes that may impact hours or operation, the new fee schedule, and how to confirm your child’s registration the first week of August.
The Learning Connection CSS & RSS
On July 7th, the Board approved re-establishing The Learning Connection Childcare program (TLC) this fall. TLC is an optional fee-based program that will offer limited before school/after school childcare options when your child attends school on in-person instruction two days a week, and/or full day care for your child on distance learning days three days a week. LACDPH requires a ratio of 10 students to one adult in this program.
It is important to note that participation in TLC creates a second cohort of children with whom your child would be interacting. In light of COVID-19, parents will need to determine if this is the right choice for their family. Due to space constraints on campus and increased interest from families, the school district is exploring opportunities for partnership to establish a distance learning center at an off-site location within El Segundo. More information about hours of operation, the new fee schedule, and how to register your student will be forthcoming in the first week of August.
The Learning Connection Expansion to Middle School
For the past several years, the City of El Segundo has provided a fee-based after-school childcare program at the middle school known as SPARK. Given the recent changes brought on by COVID-19, for the 2020-21 school year, the school district will assume offering childcare for El Segundo Middle School. We would like to thank the City of El Segundo and Reach Out Against Drugs (ROAD), for having originally established SPARK at El Segundo Middle School.
The El Segundo Unified School District intends to expand its own childcare program, The Learning Connection (TLC), to cover middle school family needs. TLC@ESMS is an optional fee-based program that will offer an after school childcare option when your child attends school via in-person instruction two days a week, and/or full day care for your child on distance learning days three days a week. LACDPH requires ratio of 10 students to one adult in this program. Due to space constraints, the school district is exploring opportunities for partnership to establish a distance learning center at an off-site location within El Segundo.
TLC@ESMS will provide distance learning academic support and a variety of activities to keep all students engaged within the established social distancing protocols and required health orders from the Department of Public Health. TLC@ESMS will consist of ESUSD employees. A survey will be distributed to families next week to determine the degree of community interest and need. More information on hours, fee schedule and how to register your student will be forthcoming in the first week of August.
ESUSD Virtual Town Hall Meeting July 27
I would like to invite all parents and community members to participate in an ESUSD Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Monday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. The purpose of the virtual town hall is to provide an update on the latest information and practices regarding health and safety and school reopening this fall. Presenters will include:
- Jeanie Nishime, President ESUSD Board of Education
- Tracey Miller-Zarneke, Vice President ESUSD Board of Education
- Melissa Moore, Superintendent
- Marisa Janicek, Assistant Superintendent Educational Services,
- Dylan Farris, Executive Director of Human Resources and Facilities
- Ali Rabiei, Director of Maintenance & Operations/COVID-19 Compliance Officer
- Kimberlie Linz, Chief Business Official
- Jack Plotkin, Director of Innovation and Student Support will serve as Moderator
By submitting questions in advance, you will allow the school district to gain better understandings of what is on the minds of our ESUSD parents and employees. Beginning July 13, questions for this town hall may be submitted to Tracy Adams, Executive Assistant to Superintendent via email at email@example.com with the title “Town Hall Questions” in the subject line. Deadline to submit questions will be Monday, July 20 at midnight in order to allow time for the organization of questions and panelist preparation.
Critical Superintendent Update from LACDPH
The topic of school reopening has been featured prominently in the news this week. On July 7th, superintendents from Los Angeles County participated in a teleconference with county Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer regarding the impending release of the LACDPH health directive and current report regarding COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. In this teleconference, Dr. Ferrer stated, “Every single school district at this point needs to have plans in place to continue distance learning for 100% of the time. Given where our numbers, [referring to COVID-19] are, we would be irresponsible if we didn’t say to you that you have to have a backup plan ready.” Thus stated, I regret to share that due to the serious ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, the school district’s Hybrid option is seriously at risk and ESUSD may be required to offer Distance Learning only to all students TK through 12th grade until COVID-19 cases stabilize. I will continue to monitor this situation and will update you if such a shift is mandated. The county health directives govern 80 school districts serving 1.5 million children. If our campuses are not permitted to open August 26th with a Hybrid model, there may be an opportunity to shift back to Hybrid later in the semester once COVID-19 flattens. I implore each of you to do your part and wear your face covering and avoid the three C’s: Crowded places, Confined spaces, Close contact with others not in your household!
Members of the Board of Education, district administrators, site administrators and I have heard from many parents over the past several weeks who expressed their support for ESUSD to reopen schools five days a week for face to face instruction this fall. Please know we all would love nothing more than to return to school full time with students when it is declared safe to do so by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (LACDPH). Although we continue to hope for the best, we must remain responsible and plan for the worst. The safety of our students and staff is nonnegotiable. Thank you for your patience, grace and understanding as we navigate this extraordinary challenge ahead.
With gratitude that we are in this together,
Melissa Moore, Ed.D.
El Segundo Unified School District