Schools Chief Cites Preparation for Reopening

Dear SPUSD Community,
I hope you and your family are doing well and taking advantage of the summer weather. A little over a week ago, we wrapped up the 2019-20 school year and participated in memorable and unique celebrations for our senior graduates and our 5th- and 8th-grade students. Despite the challenges we faced this year, our students, staff and community displayed resilience and flexibility as we adapted to an emergency situation.
Our team of SPUSD administrators, teachers and staff are very busy working on developing plans for the physical reopening of schools. As the situation continuously evolves, we are paying close attention to the guidelines being developed by the Los Angeles County Health Department, expected to be released soon, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. While you may have read guidelines for reopening from the California Department of Education, we must follow the county health department’s guidance.
Thoughtful planning for reopening has been underway for months. This spring, we began surveying our stakeholders — students, parents and teachers — to assess the effectiveness of distance learning and to determine families’ preferences for returning to school. In addition, we have engaged in intensive, two-way dialogue with more than a dozen different groups to glean key information to help create a new model of learning. We also regularly meet with neighboring districts and school professionals across the county and state who are facing similar, challenging situations.
School will begin on Aug. 13, although the way we return to school will be different. Our committee of experts is in the process of developing adaptable plans that will enable us to respond to changing health conditions. Based on current health guidelines, returning to school will require a hybrid model with both on-campus and virtual learning. Additionally, we are aware that a percentage of our student population may desire or need to remain in a distance learning environment. Committee members are working tirelessly to design these models.
Aspects of the back-to-school plan must be negotiated with our bargaining units and overall plans will be presented to the SPUSD School Board for review and approval toward mid-July. We will continue to keep you updated as plans develop.
Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.

Editor’s note: Yantz’s letter addressing district students and parents was released this week.