The Santa Barbara Unified School District board received an update from district administrators regarding hybrid learning during its regular meeting Tuesday night.
Dr. Frann Wageneck, assistant superintendent explained the district’s response when a Santa Barbara High School student who participates in a sport on campus tested positive for COVID-19 Nov. 1. The students’ report was passed to her, and she contacted the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
The students’ cohort is currently under a 14-day quarantine.
Superintendent Hilda Maldonado sent a letter district-wide to alert all parents. In the future, letters will only be sent to families in the school affected.
This week, parents will confirm their family’s preference for in-person or remote learning. Last week, 25% of families indicated they’d like to remain in distance learning.
High school students are the group most likely to choose distance; 29% preferred to remain home.
Preschool families are much more eager to return. Only 13% wanted to remain in the full distance model, reported early childhood education coordinator Daisy Ochoa.
Preschool students are able to return to school four days per week in January, with a day of distance learning Wednesdays.
When board members expressed concern for crowding in hallways in secondary schools, Superintendent Maldonado said each school will customize its plan. She is asking teachers to create a lesson plan with COVID-19 safety at the forefront.
“It’s going to be everyone talking about COVID, like how we wear our masks,” she said.
She hopes that integrating it into the learning process will help make students mindful.
During the last meeting, hiring progress was off to a slow start. Dr. John Becchio, assistant superintendent of human resources, was optimistic this week about filling integral roles.
He hired four custodians, four paraprofessionals, two playground supervisors and 29 long-term substitute teachers.
He predicts staff may have to take on additional roles, like office staff helping schools perform health screenings.
So far, fewer staff members requested leaves of absence than he estimated. He thought 82 classified staff members would request the accommodation, but only 17 did.
A total of 16 secondary teachers requested a leave, compared to an estimated 33. One extra elementary teacher requested leave than he expected, though.
Food services should remain similar in January. Sack lunches for distance learners will be available as well as for students on campus.
Starting Friday, families can pick up boxes of food from the Santa Barbara Food Bank from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Franklin and McKinley elementary schools.
Meals for four prepared by Family Services Agency and UC Santa Barbara are available 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesdays at La Cuesta Continuation High School, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays at Santa Barbara High School and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays at Harding University Partnership School.
The board also commemorated board vice president Dr. Jacqueline Reid’s time on the board, as she did not achieve reelection Nov. 3. Most prominently, she helped establish the diversity studies requirement for the district.