Update on Reopening Our Schools

January 14, 2021

In this edition

  • A Message from the Superintendent about reopening our schools

  • Criteria for reopening and remaining open

  • FREE meals for ALL kids

A Message from the Superintendent about reopening our schools

Dear Parents and Community Members,


We wanted to give you an update on reopening our schools.


Our goal is to reopen our schools soon, without compromising the safety of our students and staff. Safety is one of our guiding principles, and it will continue to guide all we do as we continue to navigate this pandemic.


According to the CEO of Tahoe Forest Hospital and other county health officials, by this time next week, we will know the extent of the post-holiday season surge. There is hope that the number of active COVID cases in our area will flatten, if not lower.

Our district team has been working hard to address the challenges that led to our return to distance learning. This includes ensuring that timely testing is available for any symptomatic students and staff, that child care is provided to district staff for their children in grades TK- five. and that we have enough substitute teachers.


We have a board meeting next Wednesday, January 20, at 5:30 p.m. At this meeting, we will review the latest COVID data to evaluate the feasibility of safely reopening in hybrid. If the active case rates in our area continue to go down, we will announce our reopening date to hybrid at this meeting. Please be prepared for an announcement with a quick turnaround in regards to reopening.


When we reopen, students will be automatically “enrolled” in the cohort that they were in when we reopened in hybrid this fall, unless you request a change. Our principals will be sending out a form to all parents to complete by Thursday, January 21, 2021, if you want to move your child from hybrid to year-long distance learning or year-long distance learning to hybrid. (They will also include a cheat sheet on where to find your child’s cohort assignment in Aeries!) You do not need to complete this form if you are not requesting a change.


Our goal is to reopen in hybrid and stay open. Please see the additional information outlined in an article below regarding our reopening criteria.


I invite you to join us via live streaming on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. for our school reopening updates.


Sincerely,


Carmen Ghysels

Superintendent Chief Learning Officer

Criteria for reopening and remaining open

Following the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) guidelines, we implemented extensive safety measures at all of our schools this past summer and early fall, to significantly lower the risks of exposure to COVID on campus. These measures remain in place and are essential to reopening our schools safely.


When we closed our schools in late November, a handful of factors led to the decision. Below is a list of the challenges that caused us to pivot back to distance learning on November 23, 2020, and their status:


  • We had staffing shortages at most of our schools due to a high number of staff and students (185 in total) quarantined.

This number has been significantly reduced. We currently have approximately 40 or fewer staff members under quarantine.


  • We had a shortage of substitute teachers and staff members.

Sub staffing is always a challenge, and we have creative plans to find enough substitute teachers and support staff going forward.


  • We had a high number of active COVID cases within the TTUSD community (a combination of staff and students) and a weekend spike in cases.

As of January 11, we have a total of 11 active COVID cases. (Please note, this may be slightly underreported as we can’t be sure everyone is reporting their cases during distance learning.)


  • We were maxing out on our ability to conduct thorough contact tracing.

We have reallocated staff to support the nurses should the numbers go up significantly.


  • We did not have enough access to timely testing for symptomatic staff & students.

Placer County approved our district to extend testing hours by thirty minutes allowing staff and students access to more testing appointments.


We now have one of our bus drivers driving the test kits to the testing center in Folsom every day to expedite the results. (We also have stricter protocols in place to ensure that the testing slots are only for symptomatic staff and students.)


  • We had staff members at the Boys and Girls Club under quarantine, which hindered our ability to provide childcare for children of our staff in grades TK - five (a condition of our MOUs with our employees)

We have back up options to continue to provide childcare at each campus should this situation arise again.


Our goal is to reopen in hybrid and stay open district-wide

While staffing will always present a challenge, if we have to close due to COVID exposure and staff and students who are ill and or under quarantine, we will do so on a case-by-case basis, class by class, or grade level by grade level. We will do everything we can to avoid another district-wide school closure.


The status of the active COVID-19 cases in Placer County

  • When we reopened in hybrid on October 29, we felt it was safe to reopen. At that time, Placer County's 7-day COVID case rate was 5 out of 100,000, and we were in the red tier in the State's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

  • At the end of November, a significant surge in cases of COVID hit Placer County, along with a spike within our TTUSD community. The 7-day COVID case rate had grown to 18.6 out of 100,000 - more than four times what it was a month prior.

  • There was an even more significant surge in December, and the 7-day case rate rose to over 50 per 100,000. The number of cases in December made up 46% of all the cases of COVID since March.

  • As of January 12, 2021, the 7-day case rate is 49.2 per 100,000


(Note: Since we can’t get numbers for just our school boundaries, we monitor the data from both Placer and Nevada counties to get a better sense of what is going on.)

Free meals for ALL Tahoe Truckee kids

We are serving our youth, ages 18 & under, seven days of FREE “grab n go” meals, one day per week. This is available to ALL kids in Tahoe Truckee!


Our team wants to make sure that our children are safe, learning, and well-fed.


You can choose from a Wednesday pick up from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm OR Thursday afternoons from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.


These free meals are for ALL kids - they do not need to be enrolled at the school site. We also offer home delivery when requested.