After wrapping up a school year unlike any other, officials at Lompoc Unified School District have turned their attention to what could be a drastically different landscape for students and teachers if and when campuses reopen this fall.
LUSD administrators have expressed a desire to return to a traditional school schedule with on-campus classes when the new school year starts Aug. 17, but they acknowledged that return could be unlikely with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
District officials recently released a set of contingency plans that could see the continuation of remote learning, either fully or partially, in the event that physical classes aren’t an option.
The plans were developed using input from a district reopening committee comprised of nearly 80 LUSD employees, along with data gathered from a community survey that drew about 4,300 responses. The plans were designed, according to LUSD, to provide families a framework and show them what may be ahead, depending on the restrictions in place.
“The committees and surveys have been a great way for us to get multiple perspectives so we could develop the best plans in less-than-ideal times,” said Bree Valla, an assistant superintendent of human resources for LUSD. “We have had many dedicated staff put many hours into researching, brainstorming and analyzing various plans to help us come up with a well-vetted plan.”
The top option, which was cited as the district’s preferred plan, was for all students to return to campuses for the start of the 2020-21 school year with additional sanitary and safety precautions in place.
If state and local health restrictions don't allow for a full return to schools, the district’s next option would involve implementing a so-called hybrid approach in which students would engage in in-person classes at school sites part of the time and remote learning off-campus at other times.
If the number of coronavirus cases grows in the fall and winter and health restrictions are increased, the district plans to return to remote learning full-time until it is deemed safe to reopen campuses.
“The specifics of these plans will now be ironed out with our bargaining units so that we ensure that staff remain safe as well,” said John Karbula, LUSD’s assistant superintendent of business services.
LUSD officially ended its 2019-20 school the first week of June, which was highlighted by multiple graduation ceremonies that employed social distancing measures. Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools, the two traditional high schools in the district, hosted drive-through commencement ceremonies with student and faculty speeches delivered online rather than in person.
District employees have utilized the time since schools were closed down in mid-March to clean the various campuses and prepare them for the fall.
Valla noted that the coronavirus crisis allowed workers to start the cleaning processes sooner than normal.
She said that LUSD leaders were still developing the specifics of the summer cleaning plan but noted that the district would focus on five key principles for the upcoming school year.
Those include maintaining quality instruction regardless of the method; ensuring safety for all students and staff; adopting a whole school wellness approach that focuses on promoting students’ academic, social and emotional learning, as well as their physical well-being; partnering with students, families, community and labor groups to maximize community resources; and adopting a growth mindset that will allow the district to modify and adjust based on data, government agency recommendations and best practices.
For more information on LUSD, visit lusd.org.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.
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