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A Message From The Superintendent

June 28, 2020

Has anything changed since last week's message? Yes. This past week marked a series of significant events that will shape the upcoming school year. On Thursday, during our Regular Meeting of the Board of Education, I updated the Board and the Community on our reopening plans. Watch the presentation here.

On Friday, June 26, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California state Legislature reached a budget compromise. On balance, it is favorable for schools, considering that we were cautiously budgeting for this coming year since May 14, when Governor Newsom submitted his May Revision Budget Proposal with a $54 billion gap due to the COVID-19 recession. While this budget maintains prior year spending levels, it heavily relies on deferrals. Without getting too technical, deferrals helps balance a budget. Budgetary deferrals result in an obligation that the state can eventually repay. Deferrals amount to "kicking the can down the road." Given the challenges that all school districts face planning for 2020-21 amidst surging coronavirus cases and an unprecedented degree of uncertainty, the budget news is positive and allows us to focus on safely reopening our schools, for now. For a more detailed description of the highlights of the state's education budget read a brief overview by EdSource here.

Regarding reopening schools, a trailer bill, AB77, defines the expectations for this coming school year, specifically setting requirements for distance learning, a key element of our and every school district's reopening plan. The legislation is the result of the inconsistency among districts in providing remote instruction when schools closed on March 13. Included among the legislation's focal points, the following requirements will be central to school reopening plans:

  • Offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible.
  • Confirm that students have computer and internet access.
  • Document daily student participation in a weekly log and creating a system to track non-participating students.
  • Set procedures for reengaging students who are absent for more than 60% of instruction per week.
  • Communicate with parents about learning progress.
  • Ensure teachers interact live daily to instruct, monitor progress and maintain connections.
  • Provide academic supports for English learners and students behind academically.

Another key element of AB77, in an effort to offer teachers more flexibility during distance learning, is a reduction in the minimum number of instructional minutes. Here's a comparison from last year to this coming year:

Kindergarten: From 200 to 180 minutes

Grade 1-3: From 280 to 230 minutes

Grade 4-8: From 300 to 240 minutes

Grade 9-12: From 360 to 240 minutes

Our Reopening Schools Task Force focus groups will complete their work this coming week now that we have the requirements and expectations clearly defined. On July 9, the Task Force will present their recommendations to the Board of Education in a public Study Session. Learn here how to follow our Board meetings via livestream.

See my message from last week here for details on the primary areas each Task Force group is focused on. In addition to AB77 requirements, the Task Force will also take into consideration the latest survey results from our families and students. The feedback is critical to the school reopening planning process because we have to staff our schools appropriately and be prepared for every possibility, particularly given the recent surge in coronavirus cases. As you can see from the before-mentioned AB77 legislation, the focus is on distance learning. Here's the most current results as of today:

Question to Parents: In thinking about return to school scheduling there are many options being considered for how students will be scheduled. Which makes the most sense to you and your family?

  • Prefer Full In-Person, Monday - Friday: 1,337/2,914 (46%)
  • Prefer a Blended/Hybrid Model: 1,078/2,914 (37%)
  • Prefer Full On-line Learning: 499/2,914 (17%)
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The survey remains open. About 400 more families completed the survey since last week and moved the needle. Here's the results as of last week:

  • Prefer Full In-Person, Monday - Friday: 1,282/2,515 (51%)
  • Prefer a Blended/Hybrid model: 917/2,515 (36%)
  • Prefer Full On-line Learning: 316/2,515 (13%)

The change may be the result of the surge of coronavirus cases in Riverside and beyond. If you have not yet taken the survey, please do so today. Every parent and caretaker voice should be heard. Choose the English version or the Spanish version. A more focused survey will be conducted school-by-school in the coming weeks to determine staffing needs and assignments at each school depending on the models available and parent preferences, at that point in time. Stay tuned.

Results of the secondary student survey are as follows:

Question to students: How would you prefer to learn in August?

  • Prefer Back to School, Monday - Friday: 797/1,737 (46%)
  • Prefer Blended/Hybrid model: : 689/1,737 (40%)
  • Prefer Full On-line Learning: 248/1,737 (14%)
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The student survey remains open too. Take the survey here. Every student voice should be heard. For our TK-5 students. We request parents facilitate the completion of the survey for our youngest of students. Here's the TK-5 student survey in English and in Spanish.

The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Riverside County and beyond has also slowed down summer programs for high school athletics and other extra-curriculum programs. This past Friday, Riverside County sent out a press release to remind residents that youth sports are still not permitted in Riverside County. Given that, we have pushed back our summer training program to July 13, following the CIF Return to Physical Activity/Training Guidelines. Athletic Directors, coaches, and program administrators will continue to communicate with their students and their families. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is still planning to announce the 2020-21 sports-year calendar sometime on or before July 20. The decision will be to open the sports calendar as planned, starting August 3. Or push it back to mid-September, in which case seasons will be shortened. But school superintendents and the CIF are committed to safely deliver sports as well as all extra-curricular programs this year. If you haven't seen the podcast episode featuring CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod, it remains timely. Watch it here.

The most frequently asked question I get is what will school look like in the fall and what can parents and students expect in the next couple of weeks as we create our comprehensive school re-opening plan? The answer to the first part of the question is complex since there are so many variables. What I can assure our students and their families is that the Alvord Board of Education recognizes how critical coming physically back to school is to learning, physical and mental wellbeing, and to our economic recovery. Parents need to get back to work in most families. Child care and after school care, then, is among the school reopening considerations that we are prioritizing, despite the reduction in the instructional school day this year. Many of our employees face the same challenges with their own children in the communities and school districts in which they reside and attend, respectively.

The answer to the second part of the question is less complex. Students and their families can expect a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration the most current guidance, input, and feedback. To that end, we will continue to work in collaboration with Alvord parents, students, and the community, as well as with staff, the Alvord Educators Association (AEA), the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA), and site leadership to answer the essential reopening school questions to inform our plan. Again, it's important to acknowledge that these are uncharted waters we are navigating. There is no map. But there are our core values, our organization's moral and ethical compass, that we will rely on to get us safely to where we need to be, come August 10 when we reopen schools.

In closing, I understand and appreciate the reality of the impact of how we reopen schools. I have heard from many families, in addition to the surveys. And I am aware that irrespective of our commitment to follow AB77 requirements and the expert guidance from the CDC, CDPH, CDE, and the Riverside County Department of Public Health, some of our families will be hesitant to return physically for a variety of personal or health reasons or other concerns. I also understand that others will prefer we reopen in a less restrictive way, even restoring pre-COVID conditions, with additional safety precautions, of course. Regardless of the direction we take, I understand we will not receive unanimous approval. But I hope that I can count on your support knowing that we have taken an intentional and deliberate approach to making this decision in everyone's best interest. Our promise to our school community is to continue to work with you to assure our student's and employee's safe return, in whatever form that may be.

On behalf of the Board of Education, it's a privilege to serve our students and their families, as well as our community. Please continue to stay current and involved by reading my weekly message and following us all of our social media platforms.

We eagerly await your input and we deeply appreciate your support.

Stay healthy. Be well.

In partnership.

Allan Mucerino

Superintendent's Report: Re-opening Alvord Schools 20-21
Reapertura de Escuelas de Alvord 20-21
Click Below to View the Reopening Schools Presentation

This version has additional slides with information that was made available on June 26, 2020 when the state budget and AB77 were agreed upon.

AUSD Re-opening School Report Slideshow

La presentación del Superintendente sobre reapertura de las escuelas de Alvord

Reapertura De Escuelas De Alvord
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