The Santa Barbara Unified School District board met Tuesday night to discuss a hybrid learning plan.
During the Oct. 13 meeting, board members expressed concern that administrators hadn’t fully developed a hybrid plan. Tuesday’s meeting brought answers to those questions, though confusion still lingered in public comments.
One question regarded the wording presented regarding the start date. A few commenters thought the Jan. 19 date, unanimously voted upon Oct. 13, was contingent upon an orange-tier designation. They asked the board to approve Jan. 19 even if the county stays in the red tier.
Superintendent Hilda Maldonado opened it to a board vote. Members agreed to open Jan. 19 — even in the red tier.
Superintendent Maldonado’s presentation to the board gave a detailed overview of the hybrid schedules.
The plan designates students as groups A, B and C. Group A attends campus Monday and Thursday, and group B is in the classroom Tuesday and Friday. Group C is always at home.
Groups A, B and C all meet together Wednesdays.
So, hybrid students will attend two days on campus, a class-wide online half-day Wednesday and two days of remote instruction. Both the students at home and in the classroom start the day together with their teacher.
The students enrolled online exclusively will have a schedule that mirrors their current day. Depending upon enrollment, elementary students may have a multi-grade online classroom.
Students in junior high and high school will have block schedules, meaning they attend half of their classes each quarter. They will have more time per class period, though, so the length of instruction stays the same.
Ivan Genov, a parent of two Goleta Valley Junior High students, voiced concerns about block schedules during a public comment.
“My concern is that they’ll have a big gap of no math, or any subject, until they start their next grade,” he said.
Two teachers made public comments worried about the practicality of the hybrid plan.
“This specific schedule, which simply put, isn’t feasible. Initiating over Zoom is challenging enough in a fully remote model,” Charles Clow, a San Marcos High School teacher said. “To ask teachers to initiate over Zoom and do so in the classroom simultaneously is not a realistic expectation.”
He also said he doesn’t think students will be able to keep up with their usual rigor.
York Shingle, a teacher at La Cumbre Junior High, said he felt uneasy about the expectation to teach all day without a planning period.
He was also worried about the expectation of students to disinfect their desks before passing period and then properly distance themselves in the hallways.
“Have you seen how well a seventh grader cleans? I love them to pieces, but spoiler alert: they’re not good at it,” he said.
Among his concerns was the district’s intended time to survey parents. He pointed out that it falls during a stressful time: election week.
During the week of Nov. 2, parents will be asked to designate whether they’d like to enroll their students in the hybrid model or stay online second semester. Elementary parents will also be able to give their preference on the child’s teacher, though administrators may not be able to follow the preferences.
Board president Laura Capps asked administrators if it was possible to extend the response deadline.
Assistant superintendent of secondary education Shawn Carey said the school counselors need all the time available to coordinate students’ class schedules. The week of Nov. 9, parents will have an opportunity to change their mind.
Dr. John Becchio, assistant superintendent of human resources, presented earlier in the meeting that the number of applications for temporary positions needed for the hybrid plan were low.
The district needs floater custodians, a job that pays $16.78 to $20.75 per hour at eight hours per day, according to the district’s website.
Paraeducators are needed in both general and special education. General education paras receive $15.09 to $18.69 per hour and work three to five hours per day.
Playground supervisors receive $13.96 per hour, working two to five hours per day. California’s minimum wage is set to increase to $14 per hour at the start of 2021.
Dr. Becchio indicated that the district is open to having volunteers on campuses as playground supervisors and hopes principals will reach out to parents. He plans to update the board on the hiring process.
Student advisory board members started Superintendent Maldonado’s presentation.
“We as a community have to understand that if putting kids back in school has a higher risk than reward, it’s not worth it. So we must make sure we have systems rules and precedents in place to keep schools and children safe,” Maya Samarasena, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School said.
Her peer, Yaritza Gonzalez, echoed students’ concerns for safe re-entry.
The hybrid plan agenda item lasted over two and a half hours.