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SRCS 11/20/20 Update: Secondary Reentry Efforts
Posted 11/20/20
Dear San Rafael City Schools Middle and High School Community, 

Over the past few weeks, our elementary schools have reopened for in-person learning in a hybrid model. Even though the learning looks very different, the positive energy of the students (and teachers!) can be felt as they’ve adjusted to their new environment. Now, we are focusing even more on our plans to bring our middle and high school students back into our schools. Our path forward for our secondary schools must be one that balances the benefits of having students and teachers in-person while mitigating risk to ensure that returning to school is done as safely as possible.

The Big Picture
While Marin County has moved to Tier 2 (Red– Substantial) as cases of COVID-19 have increased, we are not seeing school-based transmission among students, teachers or staff locally. The Marin County Office of Education, in partnership with Marin Health and Human Services (MHHS), recently released updated data that shows there has been zero suspected in-school transmissions in Marin. I shared more about this in a letter to our elementary school community, and I encourage you to read it as well. We also understand that the secondary school setting in SRCS is different, and more complex, than many other schools in our area. We are keeping all the various logistics and considerations in mind as we plan for a safe reentry. 

Health and Safety Come First
Since our schools closed this spring, we have invested a great deal of time, planning and resources to implement effective health and safety measures to help prevent COVID-19 transmission in our schools. MHHS has also provided us guidance and recommendations. The safety precautions for each school are outlined in our School Site-Specific Protection Plans (SSSPP), which were reviewed and approved by MHHS. Here are some of the steps we’re planning for the secondary level:  
  • Using a hybrid schedule for fewer students in the building
  • Maximizing physical distancing with at least six feet of distance at all times 
  • Requiring everyone to wear face coverings
  • Implementing our daily Student Health Check system
  • Enhancing cleaning and sanitizing procedures
  • Modifying classroom ventilation systems to only bring in 100% outdoor air 
  • Restricting visitors in the schools
Hybrid Learning Program Takes Shape
Schedule: Our Reentry Task Forces, composed of teachers, staff, parents, students and administrators, are meeting regularly and working collaboratively to determine the middle school and high school schedules for hybrid learning. We are working towards the goal of bringing back as many students as possible, as safely as possible, with the current assumption that not more than half of each class would be on campus at one time. We will share more detailed, proposed schedules as soon as possible.

Safety Measures: During the on-campus days, safety protocols would be in place as previously described, and with emphasis on the following points. Students would be required to keep their masks on. Students would remain six feet apart at all times, even when outdoors, and teachers would also be required to remain six feet from students. Classrooms would be set up with desks facing forward with six feet social distancing, and student collaborative work and teacher one-on-one support would be limited. 

Timeline: I am pleased to share that we have established 10 Learning Hubs at our secondary schools, which are providing small groups of targeted students with a consistent, supervised learning environment. Our  efforts are now focused on planning for when we can bring back the bulk of our students for in-person learning. At this time, I have proposed that we begin to bring back students early in the second semester in winter 2021. I envision that it will likely be a phased approach, with middle school students hopefully returning in January and high schoolers in February. 
It is important to emphasize that we remain in constant communication with MHHS every step of the way, and that the safety of our students and staff are the top priority. Much will depend on the number of case counts in the county once the new year begins. Furthermore, we are working closely with our labor partners to make sure we proceed cautiously and carefully. We will provide an update on the timeline as soon as we can. 

Guidance for Holiday Travel and Gatherings
Bay Area public health officers have issued joint recommendations for staying safe during the holidays. You can find the details of the guidance and ideas for safe celebrations here. Relatedly, the California Department of Public Health has a Guide for Private Gatherings and a Travel Advisory and the CDC has guidance on assessing your family’s risk in various activities and factors to consider for holiday celebrations. We urge you to carefully review this local and state information and adhere to the recommendations. The commitment your family makes to following the guidance will help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our community and support our efforts to open our classrooms for learning.

Share Your Feedback
As a reminder, we launched parent and student surveys this week so you can share input about Remote Learning and our possible return to school in-person. If you haven’t already, please complete the survey: parent survey in English; parent survey in Spanish; student survey.

Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward through these challenging times and work to ensure that school will be a safe place to work and learn.

Sincerely,

Jim Hogeboom
Superintendent