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Los Altos district's youngest students return to schools, testing safety protocols

Original post made on Oct 13, 2020

All nine of the Los Altos School District's campuses sprang to life this week, with a small number of kindergarten and first grade students arriving for in-person classes following a seven-month lockdown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:24 PM

Comments (2)

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Yes Voice reporter, "carefully laid plans" help the neediest students' school experience 'spring to life'. Great work for the Los Altos community, its school Board providing direction, and its Administration and Superintendent!

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 13, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

I am preparing for reopening where I teach, when I think of that, and see pictures of LASD, I can't help but feel there's a deep inequity if we don't offer the same as a voluntary option to our youngest and highest-need students and their teachers in MVWSD.

MVWSD has closed conversation of this issue at the very moment the most data on reopening is about to emerge from local test cases like LASD, PAUSD, and independent schools.

Reopening conversations in MVWSD based used the following premises that are flawed:
1) Scaling to all students or no-one approach. (Other districts have been able to negotiate with their unions targeted reopening for waiver groups. Some may disagree with me, but I do not think we will be able to scale to every grade safely, now or January, but that shouldn't stop us from starting now with an option for our youngest and neediest, and also offering staggered routine outdoor grade-level micro-social checkins on campus to build relationships now. Those relationships pay bigger dividends earlier in the year than later.)
2) The premise that other districts are too different to offer insights on our situation. (Not an attitude any learning institution should have, and remote learning has taught us, teachers are learning from counterparts all around the world to get through this.)
3) The premise January will be safer than now. (Time will not make us any safer if we do not practice small reopenings to learn how to do this. County has just entered Orange. This is the safest time to try things.)
4) Discussions of outsourcing reopening for high need students. (This is both an inefficient use of funds and morally questionable to pass risks to a group of adults with less health care than district educators, and aren't trained to provide a qualitatively better experience.)

We won't ever be ready to safely scale reopening in January if we don't gain practical wisdom through pilots right now through December. When I taught my pilot class this summer, I had spent a month preparing, yet there are so many safety tweaks and instructional innovations that you only uncover by doing. That pilot has made me feel much more prepared for my upcoming return to my classroom.

Where I teach also invited doctors to brief our decision making, MVWSD's own parent body has some of the top doctors and scientists in the world that could advise us.

Wishes for bringing these students on campus aren't enough. The current school board needs to have a vote on what is happening before the January fuller-scale revisit. Not voting on reopening plans that have changed substantially since early summer prevents MVWSD from having the public oversight and accountability intended by publicly elected school boards. It's odd that a school district can't discard outdated books without a board vote, yet the board is comfortable letting the district determine COVID-19 plans without a vote of the board.

On a smaller level that reveals a need to re-examine how we view COVID-19 planning, the very tent shown in that LASD photo is evidence we need to think broader. MVWSD stated they couldn't do tents because of DSA. Yet DSA stated we could, and LASD clearly shows they and others got that message.

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