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A Message From The Superintendent

June 21, 2020

Has anything changed since last week's message?

Yes, the Riverside County Department of Education (RCOE) released its reopening schools document. Click on the image below to read the entire document. Read it in Spanish or in other languages here.

The Alvord Task Force will use the RCOE planning guide and other guidance documents from official sources, in addition to student, parent, and staff input, to inform their recommendations to the Board of Education for safely reopening Alvord schools. The Task Force completes its work on June 30 and will present their recommendations to the Board of Education publicly at a Study Session planned for July 9. Reopening plans will be announced shortly thereafter. The primary areas the task force are studying include:

Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Transmission

  • Staying Home when Appropriate
  • Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
  • Face Coverings
  • Social distancing
  • Adequate Supplies
  • Signs and Messages

Maintaining Healthy Environments

  • Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Shared Objects
  • Ventilation
  • Water Systems
  • Modified Layouts and seating arrangements
  • Physical Barriers and Guides
  • Communal Spaces
  • Food Service

Maintaining Healthy Operations

  • Protections for Staff and Children at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
  • Regulatory Awareness
  • Gatherings, Visitors, and Field Trips
  • Identifying and Cohort Small Groups
  • Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
  • Participation in Community Response Efforts
  • Communication Systems
  • Staff Training
  • Recognize Signs and Symptoms
  • Sharing Facilities
  • Support Coping and Resilience

Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick

  • Advise Staff and Families of Sick Students of Home Isolation Criteria
  • Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick
  • Clean and Disinfect
  • Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts

We recognize families are anxious to plan ahead, and staff is too. Schools in Alvord are still planned to be reopened on August 10. And like most school districts, the possibilities of what Alvord schools will look like when they reopen range from the least restrictive environment (full-physical return for all students who choose to return for in-person schooling with safety precautions following safe reopening recommendations) to the most restrictive environment (distance learning only). In-between those two possibilities are hybrid models that ease students back into the physical school setting. For planning purposes, we have been gathering input since early April from students, parents, and staff through our crowdsourcing platform Thought Exchange and more recently through an interest and preference survey. As of today, 2,515 families (22%) have completed our survey. The response to reopening preferences are as follows:

Question: 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?

  1. Prefer Full In-Person, Monday through Friday: 1,282/2,515 (51%)
  2. Prefer a blended model, with some days/times in person and other days/times learning online: 917/2,515 (36%)
  3. Prefer Full On-line Learning: 316/2,515 (13%)

If you have not yet taken the survey, please do so today. 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. Flexibility is a key component in all school district's reopening plans given the unpredictable nature and outbreak patterns of this disease. School districts are expected to adapt to all current conditions and be prepared to pivot at a moment's notice.

The RCOE planning guidebook was released on the heels of the California Department of Education's (CDE) official guide for reopening schools, released the previous week. Find the CDE web version here to choose to read it in your language of choice. It's a similar document in most ways. But unlike the CDE document, all school districts in Riverside County contributed to the RCOE guidebook.

Released with the RCOE guidance was the following message from the Public Health Officer of the County of Riverside, Dr. Cameron Kaiser:

To Our Education Partners,

The impact of the COVID-19 virus in the American educational system is currently the great unknown. The current data suggests that children are likely to be infected with COVID-19 at about the same rate as adults. Fortunately, we have yet to observe a pediatric death anywhere in the state of California. That being said, even though we do not believe that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals are major drivers of infection, we do not know if that is also true for children. Few outbreaks have been linked specifically to schools. This has been attributed to the belief that student-to-student transmission outbreaks may not have been detected because students are largely asymptomatic.

Furthermore, this does not mean that children will not experience an adverse impact from a COVID-19 infection. Measles are usually a clinically benign infection, but a small minority will go on to experience severe nervous system damage years later. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, may be linked to COVID-19 and can be life-threatening. COVID-19 has not been around long enough to know what impact or long term affect is on pediatric patients. However, we cannot assume that just because it does not affect children now, it will not impact children later. As we seek to re-open schools, we have three infection prevention strategies to consider:

  1. Preventing student-to-student transmission
  2. Preventing student-to-staff transmission
  3. Preventing staff-to-staff transmission

While social distancing and facial coverings demonstrate meaningful reductions in disease spread, young children do neither of these well. As a result, it is paramount for our educational system to devise creative age appropriate solutions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Due to limited data and knowledge about COVID-19, we will be learning together about what works, what does not work, and what is necessary or unnecessary. Your flexibility and your observations are appreciated and solicited. Educational attainment is a major public health imperative, and competing public health priorities should not get in the way of ensuring robust educational opportunities for all students throughout Riverside County.

Both the CDE and the RCOE planning guides are being used by the Alvord Reopening Schools Task Force. Our Task Force will provide the Board of Education with recommendations to safely reopen schools. School districts across Riverside County and Southern California are in various stages of the reopening schools process. Some districts, including our neighbor Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD), has already announced their intentions since they have year-round schools scheduled to reopen July 6. CNUSD plans to reopen their year-round schools remotely only (Distance Learning), starting on July 6. However, when they reopen their traditional calendar schools, starting on August 11, they are planning for a full-physical return with an option for distance learning for families electing not to return to the traditional school setting.

Like Alvord, our neighbor RIverside Unified School District (RUSD) has assembled a Task Force to focus on how to safely reopen their schools. They announced plans to make a final recommendation to their school board on July 21. Jurupa Unified School District (JUSD) is taking a similar approach, but has not formally released a reopening school timeline as of this date. Like Alvord, RUSD begins their 2020-21 school year on August 10. JUSD begins on August 6. All four districts in our region of Riverside County work closely together and regularly share information as we all navigate these uncertain and unpredictable times.

We are witnessing a wide range of models being proposed in Southern California. Some districts have announced plans to start schooling from a distance and transition to in-person instruction in phases over time, based on local health indicators. Others have announced plans to reopen fully, though they are clear to point out that whatever level of reopening is planned, it can occur only to the extent possible based on regulations set by public health agencies. Please stay tuned weekly to this space to remained involved and informed.

As I reported in last week's message, we are moving forward with summer programs for high school athletics, following the CIF Return to Physical Activity/Training Guidelines released on June 12. Athletic Directors and Principals have begin communicating plans with their students and families regarding summer programs for all extra-curricular programs. Athletic Directors and school officials from our league are working together to ensure we move forward together in the interest and spirit of competition. No schools will have a competitive advantage as a result of reopening plans. CIF also announced on June 12 that they will announce the 2020-21 sports-year calendar sometime on or before July 20. As of today it has not been released. Find the CIF statement regarding 2020 fall sports and return to physical activity/training here. Similar protocols will be used by other extra-curriculum programs such as marching band, for example, which also begins training programs over the summer.

In closing, thanks again for staying current by reading my weekly message. On behalf of the Board of Education, it's a privilege to serve our students and their families, as well as our community.

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

Stay healthy. Be well.

In partnership.

Allan Mucerino

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