As Covid-19 case rates drop countywide, plans to return to in-person learning for local school districts are in full swing as they submit covid-safety plans and wait for the approval.
NBC Palm Springs spoke to Desert Sands Unified School District to understand more about their covid safety plan submitted for students and staff, along with a possible return date to school.
“At this moment in time I will be recommending to the board a return for Pre-K through grade 5, for Monday, March 15th,” said Scott Bailey, Superintendent of Schools with Desert Sands Unified School District.
Desert Sands Unified excited to welcome students back to classrooms, the green light coming as the county hits the case threshold necessary for in-person learning. Students who choose to return to campus will have a hybrid schedule.
“Because of the requirements, the safety protocols in place, the hybrid model basically emerges as the only option because we have to physically distance students. we have two distinct cohorts outside of those who are on distance learning. one cohort is cohort a, which attends on a Monday, Tuesday. the second cohort then would be attending on Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday is an online engagement opportunity for all students,” explained Bailey
To prepare, all districts must submit a safety plan to the county and the state.
“The safety plans layout everything, distancing, how often you’re testing, what to do if someone’s sick, what you do for separation, how you keep the students together. everything you can imagine about making sure the schools are safe,” said Michael Osur, Assistant Director with Riverside County Public Health.
Desert Sands’ plan has already been approved by the county and is being reviewed by the state, other valley districts are still working through their plans.
“Once everything’s a go, numbers haven’t changed, we all feel secure that this is going to be the day, we’ll hold our town hall in Spanish and English,” explained Dr. Sandra Lyon, Superintendent with Palm Springs Unified School District.
And are targeting a later start date.
“Depending on new criteria from the legislature, we’re recommending an April 12th start date for TK2, and looking at our 3rd-5th grade on April 19th if that all is allowable depending on any change from the legislature,” said Dr. Lyon.
Right now, sixth graders are the oldest who can return to classrooms, officials saying older students won’t be back immediately.
“We’re not looking at this juncture based on where we are in the tier in bringing our secondary students back as quickly as our elementary,” explained Dr. Lyon.
Nevertheless, students are looking forward to being back on campus.
“I will quote one of our students who said, “We got this.” that was a hashtag that evolved back in the fall and here we are one year later, from the emergency closures, one calendar year later, it’s hard to believe that we are just now talking about the first day of school,” said Bailey.
Desert Sands Unified is the only School district with a plan approved by the county, Coachella Valley Unified School District will be voting on their plan later today during a school board meeting.