District schools will only be open for small cohorts
The Santa Barbara Unified School District announced Monday night that it would not apply for a waiver to reopen elementary schools. Instead, it will make use of the county Public Health Department’s policy on small cohorts.
When deciding if the district would apply for waiver, administrators surveyed parents to see what they’d prefer. It was almost even between reopening and distance learning.
The parents who preferred distance learning were afraid that others wouldn’t wear masks or practice personal hygiene, Superintendent Hilda Maldonado told the News-Press.
Through the small cohort model, schools will start welcoming in students struggling with the distance-learning model, starting with those who need accommodation most. Ms. Maldonado said she hopes to start this Monday, but there’s a lot of work involved in setting it up.
She plans on catering the cohorts to the families that need it. The groups prioritized for small cohorts are: students with moderate to severe disabilities; housing insecure; multilingual and enrolled for less than three years; foster children; students without connectivity; seniors behind on school credits and students failing core courses.
Cohorts must be kept at or below 14 students, and interactions between cohorts must be prevented, according to the guidelines on small cohorts. Teachers who interact with students must undergo regular testing.
The students will be taught in a traditional manner, with the teacher delivering instruction in the classroom. The students will be physically distanced, though.
Children of district teachers will continue to receive childcare and stay enrolled online.
Football, cross country, volleyball, water polo and sideline cheer practices will begin Monday. Athletes must maintain physical distancing and are limited to skills and conditioning throughout practice. No equipment can be shared, and practice must be outdoors.
The district plans to resume all other sports in October. For more on how local schools will resume athletic activities, please see A10.