The Santa Maria Joint Union School District adopted an action plan for the reopening of schools Thursday night, clearing the way for distance learning when the school year begins Aug. 17.
The plan includes three models, which officials say will provide flexibility. The options are: distance learning; a hybrid model where only part of the students are on campus at one time; and a traditional model which would include full-time, in-person learning. The plan may be adjusted due to the changing conditions and risks surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kenny Klein, district spokesman.
During Thursday’s meeting, the board and administration also discussed the specifics of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandates and guidelines and is in the process of notifying families and staff.
The recently released guidelines require counties currently on the state’s watch list to provide distance learning until there is a steady decline in COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days. Santa Barbara County has been on the list since mid-June due to a recent and steady increase in cases, according to the county Public Health Department.
Once the county meets the governor’s criteria, the district is allowed, but not required, to return to in-person classes, officials said.
“We look forward to the eventual, safe return of our students,’’ Superintendent Antonio Garcia said in a statement. “In the meantime, our decision-making process as a district will continue to be driven by three principles: Safety for our students and staff, student learning and well-being, and equitable access to a quality educational program.”
“What a difference a week makes,” John Davis, assistant superintendent of instruction, added.
“We were just presenting a plan last week involving hybrid reopening schools and now we are back tonight to present a framework for a fall distance learning program for our district as well as some transition plans.”
The distance learning program is set to run through the fall semester and will be evaluated in November and December for a possible return to schools for the spring semester.
“Transitions are very difficult especially for high schools without impacting or impeding learning outcomes … so of course we will be evaluating this program at rapid intervals,” Mr. Davis said.
The schools will still be open to the public to provide services to students, even hoping to add one on one services in the near future with safety protocols as well as provide equipment, materials and meals.
Teachers will be expected to provide daily interaction, including a minimum of 30 minutes live interaction, and provide office hours to students.
Students will be expected to log in daily and communicate with teachers and classmates everyday.
Both subsects of the campus will be using CANVAS for work, grades and feedback.
“We have to be clear that this isn’t last spring, no one can sit this out,” Mr. Davis said.
Allan Hancock College will also have concurrent courses for high school students in the area.
To view the full plan, visit www.smjuhsd.k12.ca.us.