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10/21/20 Update: TK-5 Hybrid In-Person Learning to Begin in November!
Posted 10/21/20
 
Dear San Rafael City Schools TK-5 Community, 
 
I want to start by sincerely thanking you for your patience and support as we navigate these challenging times together. Please know that we have been asking the hard questions about our plans and evaluating current data to ensure we are not only making the best decisions for our students, teachers and staff, but also the safest ones.       
 
As we’ve shared, part of our decision-making process has been guided by the recent COVID-19 testing we conducted in partnership with Marin Health and Human Services (MHHS). Our goal was to have a large, representative sample of our SRCS elementary school community tested so we could have a better understanding of the virus’ prevalence more locally. We’re grateful to our SRCS community for overwhelmingly responding - more than 1,000 students, family members, teachers and staff were tested! This provided us with valuable and timely data that clearly demonstrates San Rafael has made significant progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and there is low community prevalence. This also provided MHHS an opportunity to identify remaining cases across our community, to further drive down case rates as we prepare to reopen schools. 
 
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, also shared: “This testing drive is exactly the kind of partnership we’re going to need between public health, schools and the wider community to reopen schools safely. We know we need good data to make good decisions together.”
 
Furthermore, we have high standards in place for preventing transmission within our schools, which are outlined in our School Site-Specific Protection Plans (SSSPP). All our school plans were reviewed and approved by MHHS; they are available on our website. We also know that over the past six months in Marin, with more than 6,000 students learning in-person, there have been no transmission from students-to-adults or adults-to-students (info here). This is powerful knowledge, and demonstrates that with proper safety precautions, we can do our part to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
 
After consulting with MHHS on the comprehensive testing information and making sure that our safety protocols and procedures are in place, we are pleased to share our timeline for moving to hybrid in-person learning for our TK-5 students (for students who selected the phased-in approach, not Connected Classrooms).
 
Timeline for TK-5 Hybrid Learning
(Not for Connected Classroom students)
Week Of Grades Plans
Oct. 26-30 TK-5 Family Safety Week: Learn more about District and school protocols and procedures through Town Halls, videos and more
Nov. 2-6 TK-5 Student Safety Week: Small group orientations and trainings to welcome TK-5 students back to our schools and classrooms and to teach safety protocols and expectations
Nov. 9-13 TK-2 Hybrid learning begins with AM / PM cohorts in-person for TK-2 students 
Nov. 16-20 TK-5 Hybrid learning begins with AM / PM cohorts in-person for 3-5 students; TK-5 in hybrid learning 
 
We partnered with our teachers and created an updated hybrid learning schedule: Mondays are remote learning for all students and Tuesdays-Fridays are hybrid with AM / PM cohorts. In the next few days, principals will follow up with their school communities about important site-specific logistics and details, including start and end times and the AM / PM cohort assignments. 
 
We are grateful for the support and guidance of our public health leaders every step of the way and we’ll remain in constant communication and continue to monitor the data as we move forward. We believe this gradual, phasing-in plan allows for careful oversight as we remain committed to everyone’s safety. While instruction will look different, we are confident our teachers will create rich in-person learning environments that technology cannot replace. 
 
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the willingness of our teachers and classified staff to come back to work in our schools and classrooms. We are proud of our honest and collaborative partnerships with our elementary teachers and classified staff unions, and thank them for the hard work and time they’ve put into planning for a safe school reentry. We are in the midst of our Safety Week for teachers and staff, with dedicated time for them to review the school safety plans and prepare their classrooms for a return to in-person learning. It is simply amazing how our teachers have delivered high-quality instruction during remote learning and planned for their transition back to the classroom.
 
As a reminder, you’re invited to our TK-5 Parent & Family Town Halls, in English on Oct. 27 and in Spanish on Oct. 28, live on SRCS’ Facebook Page at 6 pm. View the flyer. We will be joined by Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin Deputy Public Health Officer, who will review the results of the recent testing and other data as well as the new Student & Family Handbook and Decision Tree for Schools. We’ll also highlight District and school safety protocols and procedures, including our daily Health Check tool. Here’s a one-minute video on this new health-screening tool that parents will use to pre-certify that their child is healthy before attending school. More to come!
 
I know that transitioning back to in-person learning can create a great deal of anxiety for our students, parents and teachers. Even I feel anxious at times about all the important decisions we have to make in order to ensure we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of our learners and to keep our students and staff safe. However, the experience with in-person learning here in Marin since this summer has shown we can do this safely if we partner together, and we know that all of our hard work and preparation will lead to significantly improved learning for our kids. I can’t wait to see the smiles on our student’s faces when we return in November!
 
Sincerely,
 
Jim Hogeboom
Superintendent