School Closure Updates

This page is inteded to keep our School Board and Staff updated on the latest important information regarding our school closure and COVID-19 related information. 

IMPORTANT SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATE #13 (4/29/2020)

I know that many of you are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis closer to home as the number of cases in Stanislaus County has reached 339 with 11 deaths.  In Patterson, the number stands at 38 with one death being reported.  Our hearts go out to all the families dealing with this horrible disease. 

School Opening in July?

There has been a great deal of anxiety and questions expressed by staff over statements made this week by Governor Newsom about reopening schools early.  This seems to be a direct contradiction to his position that we need to continue practicing social distancing, keep many businesses closed, and limit our outdoor activities. 

There have also been concerns expressed that this contradicts the “hold harmless” legislation passed earlier and reinforced in previous messages from the governor and state superintendent.  We were told there would be no make-up days required.  To change position now, and mandate that schools extend their calendars, would devalue all the hard work teachers and other essential staff have put into providing distance learning opportunities during this time.  Such a mandate would also usurp the legal authority of the state legislature, local governing boards, and collective bargaining agreements already in place.

In short, I don’t think this is the intent, nor would it be practical and reasonable to force students (and staff) who have been cooped up in their homes for weeks, to suddenly come back to school in July.  In reading follow-up news releases from the state superintendent and listening carefully to the words the governor is using, I believe the direction will be that we can open up our offices and facilities in July to begin preparing for the upcoming school year, and local districts will have the flexibility to start earlier or add days to their calendar.  Of course, this would require funding and also need to be negotiated with employee groups.  I will be addressing this topic at our board meeting on Monday and would not recommend such a course of action.  Unless legislation is passed that requires an earlier start, we should stick to our school calendar as previously approved by our board.

A task force of representatives from the California Teachers Association (CTA), the California School Employees Association (CSEA), California School Boards Association (CSBA), the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and other stakeholders is being formed to address the challenges we face reopening schools.  As noted in last week’s update, this could include some form of staggered scheduling and hybrid options of classroom and online instruction. 

I believe that as a district, our teachers are doing an exemplary job of providing distance learning for our students under these difficult circumstances.  Is it the same as the daily connections teachers make in the classroom?  Absolutely not!  Are there variables in students’ home life situations that exacerbate equity issues?  Of course there are.  But as a district, we have been working tirelessly as a team to bridge these gaps with an array of quality online instruction by our amazing teachers, and both academic and social-emotional services from our talented support staff.

We will be able to continue delivering voluntary summer school enrichment learning opportunities for our TK-8 students, and credit recovery for our 9-12 students in an online, distance learning format.  This will not only provide our students and parents with an opportunity to address learning loss, but also help us refine online learning platforms over the summer in the likely event we will need to continue providing such instruction if the COVID-19 crisis continues into August or a second wave outbreak occurs during the 2020-21 school year.

Graduation and Senior Recognition Activities

I held a WebEx meeting with our ASB leaders, administrative staff, and teacher advisors from Del Puerto and Patterson High School.  All were grateful for the support shown by our staff and community.  We are hosting another WebEx meeting tonight for all high school seniors and their parents.

We will be organizing a virtual graduation ceremony event with our students and also discussing two possible options for a public commencement ceremony.  One option will be a “staggered” ceremony in which students receive their diplomas in a traditional setting, but with only groups of 30-40 graduates at a time and only their parents in attendance (but live-streamed for family at home).  Speeches would be pre-recorded, but the processional into the stadium and distribution of diplomas would be live.  Students would arrive in shifts approximately 1-1.5 hours apart throughout the day.  Based on input from our local public health officer, we believe that such a small gathering in a large venue such as a football stadium would meet the social distancing requirements likely to still be in place by July.

The other option would be to delay a public commencement ceremony until such time that we are able to hold it for the entire class at the same time.  Under the forecasting at present, it is unlikely this could happen any time soon.  However, we will let our seniors vote and let them decide via a survey that will be distributed after the meeting.

There are many other things happening to recognize our seniors under our “2020 Vision” initiative.  Please follow our Facebook posts (they’re also available on our district web page if you don’t do Facebook)

Graduation Yard Signs for Students

Through the hard work of Sheila Cornwell and generous donations by our staff and community, we are providing every high school senior with a yard sign to display at their home.  Additional funding and support was also provided to get yard signs for all our Creekside and Walnut Grove 8th graders.  These will be distributed through each school.

Graduation Yard Signs for Staff

If you are a staff member who lives in Patterson or have a family member who owns a business in Patterson, we also have a limited number of “2020 Vision” yard signs to display at your home or place of business.  You can stop by the district office today between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to pick one up and show your support for our high school graduates!  

Continue to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong!  


IMPORTANT SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATE #12 (4/21/20)

I hope everyone had an opportunity to relax and enjoy some normality during our Spring Break.  As you’ve read, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has jumped in Stanislaus County.  The number has reached 22 in Patterson.  We know that at least one family has been directly impacted by this horrible disease and support staff are working diligently to help them during their recovery.

This increase was not unexpected and the reason behind our decision to reduce operations even further.  The good news is that 87% of our TK-5th grade students picked up Chromebooks and we were able to deliver “hot spots” to homes that do not have wireless broadband.  Thank you to our educational services staff, IT staff, and administrators for making this happen!  Thank you also to all of our wonderful teachers and paraeducators who are literally “building the plan as we fly,” and making all of this happen overnight with minimal direction.  We appreciate your patience and understanding.  Additional resources are being developed to assist with distance learning. 

We continue to work with our county office, CDE, and various companies who plan to donate additional hot spots.  However, as a district I am proud that we were proactive in purchasing hot spots prior to this crisis and able to deploy rapidly.  Our understanding at this time is that the donated hotspots and devices referenced by Governor Newsom may not arrive until mid-May and we don’t know how many each district will receive.

CHROMEBOOKS FOR PARAEDUCATORS

We have been working with our principals to identify paraeducators who will need a Chromebook to continue ongoing training and communication with their teachers and administrators through the end of the current school year.  Staff members have been contacted and are scheduled to pick up their Chromebooks at the District Office, 510 Keystone Blvd. this Thursday, April 23rd.   If you were contacted to pick up a Chromebook, please follow the schedule below to maintain safe social distancing, please follow the schedule below:

9:00 - 9:30      AVE

9:30 - 10:00     GY/LP

10:00 - 10:30     NM

10:30 - 11:00      WG

11:00 - 11:30      WVLC/DO 

HONORING OUR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS/OTHER TRADITIONAL CELEBRATIONS

We will be hosting a WebEx meeting with high school administration and ASB officers from Patterson High School and Del Puerto High School this week to discuss various possibilities to honor their achievement while also respecting the social distancing orders that are in place.  A second meeting will be hosted for all high school seniors. Various options will be presented for them to vote on as a class.

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we will not be organizing any other celebratory events (regardless of size) for 8th grade promotion, 5th grade promotion, or kindergarten/preschool recognition.  Schools are encouraged to continue coming up with creative ways to recognize these students through online platforms and activities that are meaningful for your students, staff, and families.  We will also be cancelling our annual Back to School Block Party as it is unlikely we will know until late July if such an event could be held. That simply won’t allow enough time for planning.

2020 VISION PROJECT

Various members of our community have asked about ways they can show support for our high school seniors.  We have consolidated these efforts, so they will be more powerful and visible, under a project we’re calling “2020 Vision”.  You may have already seen the banners at our schools and the logo on our district Facebook Page. We will be providing more details about these efforts after our meeting next week with high school seniors.  Check our Facebook Page as these activities will be shared.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

The amount of information – much of it conflicting, is almost too much to take in at times.  On one hand, we hear government leaders discussing the transition back to “normalcy.”  On the other hand, we hear other elected leaders saying this is the “new normal.”  While we all hope the former is true, we are simultaneously preparing for the latter.  Predictions are that confirmed cases in Stanislaus County will peak over the next two weeks, level off, and then decline. Under the general guidelines established by the federal government we should then see the restrictive measures currently in place slowly removed.  However, this may not happen until July/August.  

Budget

We know that some businesses will not reopen and there will be an economic impact that will eventually reach all sectors of the economy.  How deep and how long this will last is unknown. Most analysts expect that there will be a 0% or negative COLA for school funding during the next fiscal year.  Measures to temporarily freeze PERS/STRS contribution rate increases for districts are being discussed, but at this time few other ideas to provide relief to school districts are on the table.  Since municipalities like Los Angeles are making massive cuts to their budgets, it would be unrealistic for school districts to believe we will not be touched.

School Schedules

There are also discussions in Sacramento that could require school districts to develop a hybrid form of education for students to reduce the number on campus at any given time.  These are preliminary discussions at this point.  It is unclear if this will be required when we reopen in the fall, or if we simply must develop such plans in the event we experience a “second wave” outbreak of COVID-19 or the current outbreak is not contained by August. 

Please continue to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong! 

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.