SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Natomas Unified School District is paving the way to re-opening in-person school instruction, its board of trustees announced Thursday.
The district plans to use a phased approach to returning to the classroom with students possibly resuming on-campus learning as soon as Nov. 16, the district said.
Six benchmarks would need to be met before students could come back to school.
"To be clear, this would NOT be a full re-opening, but a transitional re-opening that would have significantly less students in classes and on campus each day," NUSD Superintendent Chris Evans said in a press release.
Evans said the six benchmarks are:
- Following state guidelines for reopening schools
- Distributing a survey for parents to say whether they want their child to continue with distance learning or return to school
- Three week buffer after state/county allows school districts to re-open
- Hiring an independent architect to map out where desks, barriers should be placed throughout classrooms and workspaces
- Districts in surrounding counties have not closed down to COVID outbreaks
- Courtesy two-week warning to families and staff
"If all those benchmarks are met, the board of education could make the determination to go ahead and return students as early as Nov. 16. They could also take an additional school week or two or more if they felt like the virus numbers were uncertain or if there was a degree of uncertainty," Evans said.
He said the benchmarks hold true to how the district functions and relies on science to guide their next steps.
"I think the most important thing is the model we're proposing allows parents to choose if their students will stay home for distance learning," he said. "About 60% to 63% of families would like their students to come back in person, which means we're going to hang around 30% to 35% that would like to stay in distance learning," Evans said referring to a survey parents received Thursday afternoon.
He said this would create smaller class sizes, lend itself to alternating days for in-person instruction and keep cohorts separate. Students at home would Zoom in to class with their peers who are already on campus.
He said masks will be required at all schools and the board is well aware that students have differing needs.
"We have safety plans across the district and school-by-school...some students have asthma, some students have hearing disabilities that need to have face shields instead of masks or masks where you can see the lips, some teachers want masks and goggles," Evans said.
Parents will receive a two-week notice about students returning to school.
"It's important for us to give this a try for our students...students deserve us to give it our best foot forward and to see if it works. If the virus causes us to return to distance learning, at least we know we've done our best we could possibly do," Evans said.
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