Superintendent's Message Regarding School Reopening for Grades 6-12 Hybrid Learning

Dear ESUSD Families, Employees and Community,

 

With Los Angeles County entering the Red Tier this week, the reopening of hybrid school for sixth through twelfth grade is imminent! Our Secondary School Reopening Task Force has developed a schedule that meets the physical distancing and stable group requirements outlined in the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year.  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has aligned its health order with the state framework which provides school districts some degree of flexibility regarding scheduling in-person instruction for students. As of last week, ESUSD was one of only 22 out of the 80 school districts in the county that had reopened for hybrid school in the grade levels deemed permissible by the Department of Public Health. Our journey to return students to school for in-person services was recently featured in the March 2021 issue of the El Segundo Scene.

 

I would like to provide an update regarding all of ESUSD’s re-opening efforts:

 

Elementary Hybrid School Serving TK-Fifth Grade

As of March 2nd, all grades returned at the elementary level for hybrid school. Students are on campus on an AM/PM schedule attending class four days a week (Tuesday through Friday); Monday remains an asynchronous learning day for all hybrid students.

 

Sixth Grade Reopening

On March 8th, sixth grade hybrid students were welcomed onto the ESMS campus for the first time. Like the notion “it takes a village,” a happy collaboration stepped up to decorate the campus in the school colors of red and black including the assistant principal, teachers, PTA leaders, parents and the Board president. The current 6th grade on-campus program is a short-term solution to return our students to school within the current directive, attending every Friday for 2.5 hours on an AM/PM schedule until all middle school students can return on a hybrid schedule two days a week.

 

Seniors Return to El Segundo High School

I would also like to congratulate ESHS principal, assistant principal and activities director, the faculty and student leaders for the successful return of our Seniors as well on March 8th. Board President Tracey Miller-Zarneke, Vice President Emilee Layne and Member Dieema Wheaton stopped by to greet students with me and feel the excitement in the air. Students were grouped in pods of 14 and participated in reimagined Senior activities planned by their fellow classmates. The inflatable eagle was out front and many commented how great it was to hear the drumline for the first time in a year! This extraordinary event was featured on Good Day LA and will continue on specially scheduled Mondays throughout the school year.

 

Return of All Secondary Students to Hybrid School

A special Board meeting is scheduled for March 18th at 6:30 pm when the Board of Education will be hearing a presentation from Dr. Melissa Gooden, Chairperson of the Secondary Reopening Task Force and Principal at El Segundo High School, regarding reopening hybrid school for sixth through twelfth grade. While we have reached a long-awaited milestone in the school reopening process, it is important to note that we are in the Red Tier with substantial levels of community transmission. Thus, all school districts are required to follow the State protocols as previously mentioned. This is not simply a guidance document but rather a health directive that applies to all public and private schools operating in California.  At the middle and high school level, ESUSD’s hybrid school plan establishes the following:

  • Students are required to wear face coverings at all times while at school
  • Stable groups limit student and teacher exposures
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet is used in classrooms or at a minimum, spacing is four feet with partitions
  • A block schedule has been used to reduce the number of courses in-person a student participates in on any one day and minimizes interactions
  • Outdoor tents have been installed and ventilation systems have been assessed
  • Hand hygiene is promoted through use of hand sanitizer or hand washing
  • Staggered arrival times and passing periods have been established
  • Directional hallways and stairwells have been labeled
  • Assigned seating of students assists in the event contract tracing is necessary
  • Symptom and close contact exposure screening will occur daily
  • All students will be able to participate in the Grab and Go lunch program at the conclusion upon dismissal from hybrid school
  • ESUSD offers weekly COVID-19 testing for employees

Our required COVID-19 Safety Plan will be updated accordingly and needs to be accepted by Public Health. Stay tuned as information will be forthcoming from the high school and middle school principals regarding the transition schedule for students to return to campus the end of next week.

 

Vaccination Update

On March 1st, the vaccination distribution plan was opened up to all school district employees. We are grateful to the Beach Cities Health District for partnering with 11 local school districts to assist with vaccine distribution in the South Bay. I am pleased to share that vaccine distribution was faster than expected and 87% of all ESUSD employees have received their first vaccine.  I believe that every ESUSD employee who wants a vaccine received the first dose and is scheduled for the second vaccine by the end of the month.

 

DPH Spring Break Travel Advisory

Spring break is upon us, I would like to remind all families of the current advisory regarding travel from DPH.  Los Angeles County has just entered the Red Tier and none of us wants to see a rebound and loss of any of the progress that has been made in reducing transmission and our ability to reopen our schools.  Our secondary schools are just beginning to reopen hybrid school and a 10-day travel quarantine for a large number of students and staff may create a significant disruption for newly resumed in-person instruction.  An increase in travel may likely result in COVID-19 cases at our schools. It is also important to note that this travel advisory applies to everyone, even those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  

 

For individuals who elect to travel despite the current advisory, DPH strongly recommends the following: 

 

  • Notify your school administration and/or child’s teacher if you plan to travel.
  • Travel locally, within a 120-mile radius from your place of residence.
  • A 10-day quarantine is required after return to Los Angeles County after travel outside California, even if you have a negative COVID-19 test.  

 

Fields and Outdoor Space

At the March 9th Board meeting, the Board of Education approved the reopening of school fields. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recent authorization stated, “non-school affiliated sports club use of a school's outdoor fields only when school is not in session and enrolled students and staff are not present on campus and is permitted.” In accordance with established Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 1331, each school site will first honor the field use commitments at the time of school closure in Spring 2020.  Any new requests for use of outdoor field space will be considered on a space-available basis.  

 

In Closing

ESUSD has never wavered in our commitment to safely reopen schools and has demonstrated that our health and safety protocols and practices work, as evident by no community transmission on campus. These thoughtful efforts remind me how truly fortunate I am to work with a spectacular group of people who put the best interests of students first. The outlook is brighter now and I remain hopeful, but all the recent good news does not mean that the pandemic is over. Thus, we collectively must remain vigilant and continue to be safe by following the established protocols.

 

With gratitude that we are in this together,

 

Melissa Moore, Ed.D.

Superintendent

El Segundo Unified School District

 

 

3/17/21