For the 2020-21 School Year, July 16, 2020

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Dear Cambrian Families,

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we finalize the multitude of details to safely reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year. Cambrian plans to begin the school year in a distance learning format, and transition back to in-person instruction. On July 14th, the Board approved Dr. Andrews and the Reopening Committee’s recommendation to start the 2020-21 school year in a distance learning model and phase into in-person instruction. I want to thank the Reopening Committee for their diligence and time in developing schedules and adapting to current information. The initial intent was to begin in a hybrid model, but with the recent changes during the final planning meeting this week, the group concluded that it is sensible to recommend that we start the year in distance learning and phase into in-person instruction.

As you may be aware, Santa Clara County is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Just yesterday, Santa Clara Public Health reported 235 new cases with 25 new hospitalizations, bringing the total case count to 6,951. The group that now has the highest rate of infection is adults ages 28-49; the same ages as many of our employees and parents. Teachers’ unions across the nation have expressed concern about the safety of returning to the classroom.

For these reasons, I want to let you know that we intend to start school as planned on August 19th - 100% Distance Learning for students. Although we will begin with distance learning, our team, in conjunction with public health experts, will continue to assess if and when students and staff return to school in-person.

Our first re-evaluation of the ability to return in-person will be early September and we will notify you on Friday, September 11th of the outcome. If optimal to return in-person, students would return to school campuses on Monday, September 28, 2020. If that is the direction we take, you will have a detailed explanation walking you through the process on September 11th.

I do appreciate the feedback we received last Spring with regard to distance learning. Although distance learning can never take the place of in-person learning, we are working to make our distance learning program more robust. We are using all the survey information and questions we received from our students and parents to ensure a more rigorous and robust distance learning instructional plan.

More details as to what the distance learning plan will entail will come out in early August, but in the meantime, there are main differences from last Spring that will be in place starting this new school year.

1. Distance Learning: We’ve worked hard to develop a more rigorous and robust learning experience for all students in our district.

Some highlights:

  • Students and teachers will follow a full daily schedule

  • The assigned teacher will provide daily instruction through Zoom

  • Lessons will be delivered through real-time in addition to recorded lessons

  • Teachers will provide small group instruction

  • Daily attendance and assignment completion is required

  • Feedback and grading will be given by the assigned teacher

    • Elementary: standards-based grading on a scale of 1 - 4

    • Middle School: letter grades

  • As similar to spring, all students will be provided a Chromebook and internet hotspot (if needed) and consumable materials.

In addition, as presented to the Board this past week, I am working with staff on creating ways to slowly integrate in-person instruction opportunities to support English Language Learners, academic interventions, special education services, and counseling support for our students.

2. New Option in Cambrian for Students to Participate this Year in 100% Virtual School.

This school year, families have the opportunity to “opt-out” of physically returning to a school campus, and instead, choose to attend a 100% virtual school model. This may be a choice some families would prefer for the school year rather than have their child return to in-person instruction when possible. As such, this new virtual school will be an opportunity based on what best fits each individual child’s needs and family situation. Please note, you will receive more information about the program on Monday, July 20th, and how to sign up for the 100% virtual school instead of returning to school in-person during the school year.

The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and we’ll continue to monitor it and communicate with you. (Please continue to check the Cambrian School District Webpage). We do know that conditions will continue to change in the next four weeks before school starts, however, there is a clear trend toward an uptick in cases. I think it’s important to make this decision now for 100% Distance Learning so that teachers and families can adequately plan and start to prepare their students. As a parent of three school-age boys, I too understand the impact and my commitment to you is to continue to listen to the needs of our students, families, and staff in order to provide the best education environment in these challenging and ever-changing conditions.

In our lifetime, we have never lived through a pandemic of this nature and it is important to remember that the current situation is not specific to Cambrian Elementary, but rather, worldwide. I am grateful for your patience, comments, ideas, and support as we navigate this together in Cambrian. I hope your family has a safe and restful last few weeks of summer.

We are Cambrian!

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