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SRCS 1/15/21 Update: Planning for What’s Next with TK-12 Re-entry
Posted 1/15/21

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community,

Watch a short video on our re-entry plans! 

These continue to be very difficult times for everyone - we have all been impacted by COVID-19 for 10 months now. I truly appreciate all of the work everyone is doing so we can safely have students in our classrooms, and the work of our teachers to ensure our students continue to learn even during the worst of this pandemic. Extraordinary efforts are being put forth by everyone, including our teachers, staff, parents and, of course, our students.  

I want to provide an update on our continued planning for bringing our middle and high schoolers back to in-person learning and to extend the in-person learning experience for our elementary school students. There is an immense amount of planning underway so we can make sure all of our safety protocols are in place. We continue to collaborate with our school safety teams (addressing each school’s safety issues), our re-entry teams (schedules, curriculum, use of technology) and our labor unions (SRTA for K-8 and SRFT for 9-12 to develop Memorandums of Understanding). I am thrilled to announce that we have reached a Tentative Agreement with SRTA about our re-entry plans for TK-8 as described below. The agreement will be brought to SRTA members for ratification next week. I am also pleased that we are seeing great progress with the vaccine distribution in Marin; our teachers and staff should start to receive the vaccine in the coming weeks. For planning purposes, our next target date for re-entry is March 1; we believe this will give us time to make sure we are well prepared at each school. Please read on for details for our different schools. 

Before continuing, I have to put in yet another plug for each of you to follow the public health guidelines to wear masks and social distance. Furthermore, we know that one of the primary ways the virus is spreading is by people mixing with those outside their households. We continue to hear stories about groups of extended families and friends mingling together in homes, and the virus spreading as a result. Since we have resumed school for elementary students in November, we have not had one case of transmission in any of our SRCS schools. I, along with our public health partners, believe schools continue to be among the safest places for our students to be because of the safety protocols that are in place and are being followed closely. We do unfortunately have to close cohorts of classes when we have positive cases, but none of these has been shown to be because of in-school transmission. PLEASE DO YOUR PART -- FOLLOW ALL OF THE HEALTH GUIDELINES SO WE CAN BRING DOWN THE POSITIVE CASE NUMBERS IN MARIN! Our ability to bring back our students for more in-person learning is dependent upon the community spread decreasing, and we need everyone’s help to make sure this happens.

At our Jan. 11 Board of Education meeting, staff shared our regular updates on re-entry planning, which are described below in more detail. I apologize for not sharing this information sooner; we will strive to provide as much up-to-date information as we can every Friday. We do want to hear from you! Town Halls, both in English and Spanish, will be coming up in the next few weeks to allow for more detailed information and to answer questions. Additionally, we’ve launched a “ThoughtExchange” so you can give us your input now on what you think about the re-entry plans as described below. Click here to share your feedback! Re-entry will be on the agenda again at our next Board meeting on Jan. 25 at 6 pm - please join us.

Elementary Schools
This past fall, we began our TK-5 phased-in approach to in-person learning by using an “AM / PM schedule” four days a week and mostly asynchronous learning on Mondays. It has been amazing to have students back and our schools have demonstrated the value of having students in our classrooms! This first phase has allowed us to ensure our safety protocols are in place so everyone can learn the routines. The schedule has a reduced amount of time that teachers are working directly with our students, but we felt it was an important initial step. Elementary teachers have continued to do an incredible job adapting to the ever-changing landscape and supporting students in their academic and social-emotional learning. We are so grateful for their continued hard work and dedication during in-person learning.

Now -- with the safety of our students, teachers and staff remaining at the center of our decision-making -- the District is planning for what’s next. We believe the opportunity to safely provide an increased amount of in-person instruction for our youngest learners is critical and we want to be ready to move to the next phase of in-person learning when the time is right. 

The District is proposing that this next phase is a “modified day” schedule (draft proposed schedule). I believe this increased instructional time will support our students with essential academic and social emotional growth. Here are some key points:

  • All students (except those in Connected Classrooms) would be at school for 4.5 hours a day in the morning, Monday - Friday, which would double our current in-person instructional time. 
  • Most would leave at lunch time, and have the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities at home; however, no more asynchronous instruction would be required. 
  • During the in-person time, there would be an opportunity for snack and supervised recess. 
  • Following Marin Health and Human Services (MHHS) guidelines, students would be approximately 4 feet socially distanced, with teachers and adults remaining at approximately 6 feet distance.
  • Class sizes this year are generally small, with the average TK-5 class size District wide at 22 students. 
  • We will continue safety procedures including frequent hand-washing, mask wearing, upgraded ventilation systems and the frequent use of outdoor spaces for instruction. 

We are planning to move to the modified day schedule when it is safe, which will not be before March 1 and only after Marin has entered the Orange Tier.

Middle Schools
Davidson Middle School: We’ve made significant progress to bring students back to Davidson’s campus! We now have two updated master schedules to accommodate students who selected in-person learning and those that opted to remain remote. For those who will be coming to school in-person, we have a phased-in approach to maximize safety (described below). For the portions of the class being offered online, teachers will be offering a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous teaching based on the needs of the students and the content being taught each day. 

Phase 1 After Marin in Red Tier for two weeks, no sooner than March 1 First period in person on A/B schedule; second and third periods remote learning. Proposed draft schedule.
Phase 2 Three weeks after Phase 1 begins All three periods in-person on A/B schedule. Proposed draft schedule.
Phase 3 After numerous considerations met when it’s safe, and not before May 1 In person full time Mon-Fri with all students on campus at the same time.


Venetia Valley 6-8: I am excited about the tremendous work that’s gone into bringing our VV middle schoolers back! The plan is to have a phased-in approach, and to start with an AM/PM schedule and to later try to align with the elementary portion when the younger students move to a modified schedule. There will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, and we are finding ways to support teachers with continued planning time. We anticipate Venetia Valley would implement phase one on March 1.

High Schools 
We appreciate our families completing the Commitment Form to select either in-person learning or full remote learning to help us refine our reentry plans for our high schools. The District is working with our teachers and staff so that classes can be streamed to allow for simultaneous in-person and remote learning via Zoom. Students will be enrolled in their current Spring courses. Please note that we anticipate that a student will be able to move from in-person to remote learning, but it will not be possible for a student who selected full remote learning to move to in-person.

For those students who have opted to learn in-person, we anticipate starting with an “A/B” schedule to reduce the number of students on campus. This will not occur before March 1 and only after Marin County has been in the Red Tier for two weeks. Here is a link to the proposed draft schedule for SRHS and TLHS.

Closing
I completely understand that it is difficult to discuss in-person learning while the state and nation are in the throes of unprecedented COVID case numbers and tragic number of deaths each day. However, the overall number of cases per 100,000 people in Marin is finally starting to decline, and with more vaccines coming soon, I am hopeful that we will soon see the community prevalence decrease. We meet with MHHS every week, and they keep us informed on the latest as well as providing guidelines for our schools. I encourage you to check out the Marin County Schools Dashboard. We are also developing our own SRCS Dashboard to show the number of positive cases in each of our schools - more to come soon!

In order to get through this pandemic, we all need to adhere to the current stay-at-home order and follow health guidelines. I am very grateful to our partners, including Dr. Matt Willis and Dr. Lisa Santora at MHHS; Marin County Superintendent Mary Jane Burke; our Board members; our labor partners; the community organizations that are providing learning hubs; and of course, our teachers, staff, administrators, parents and our amazing students. It really takes a team effort to make learning happen during this crisis, and everyone is stepping up! As a reminder, please share your perspective on these proposed re-entry plans. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we move forward!

Sincerely,

Jim Hogeboom
Superintendent