The California Department of Education released a document during a virtual news conference on Monday that will act as a road map for how schools can reopen safely.
Face masks, social distancing and distance learning are just a few key points. Decisions are being made quickly as some classes will begin early August.
Full guidelines document: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/documents/strongertogether.pdf
The guidelines are just recommendations right now meaning each county and district can figure out what works best for them. Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage said they will implement some of those guidelines but with their own twist.
“We have to rethink some our of aspects of our curriculum,” Dr. Sherman, head of Palm Valley School, said.
Each school is working long hours to figure out how to keep COVID-19 from entering their campus.
“One of the special things about our campus is all of our classrooms have external exit and entry doors,” Dr. Sherman said.
The California Department of Education is recommending wearing masks, taking temperatures, altered scheduling with some students on campus for certain days of the week and others distance learning from home and more. Dr. Sherman is taking it a step further.
“We’re going to have webcams in each classroom that will synchronously provide instructional delivery for those families that don’t feel comfortable yet coming on to campus,” Dr. Sherman said.
Ava Bagheri, who will be a seventh grader at Palm Valley next year, spent the end of sixth grade taking classes from home.
“It’s like we’re in a world textbook,” the aspiring doctor said. “With everything that went on this year.”
She said she’s ready for in-person school even though it won’t look the same.
“I’m happy to at least see their faces because it’s so hard without seeing your friends.”
Still, the situation is fluid with the possibility of a second coronavirus spike.
“We have to prepare for the likelihood that we could have to return to distance learning,” State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said during the conference.
Dr. Sherman views distance learning as an opportunity.
“To come up with a hybrid online model,” he said. “I think that’s going to be very popular in the near term.”
The document also includes further recommendations for students with disabilities, options to help with mental health, and schools in low income areas without technology access.
Thurmond said the department is working with the state and federal government for further funding in regards to PPE, school lunches, technology, etc.
We asked each local school district what their response was to the conference, here’s how they responded:
“The Desert Sands Unified School District will consider recent CDPH and CDE guidance, as well as forthcoming county guidance, in building a stakeholder-informed local school reopening plan.” Superintendent Scott L. Bailey, said.
“We appreciate receiving the guidance from Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education today. Our PSUSD team is already working on our reopening plans, which are in alignment with the guidance in this document. We look forward to sharing our plans with our families within the next few weeks for the launch of the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 5,” Supt. of Schools Dr. Sandra Lyon, said.
CVUSD did not respond to NBC Palm Springs’ inquiry.
Full news conference on Facebook: