July 26th, 2021
Dear FUSD Community,
We are quickly approaching the start of the 2021-2022 school year on August 18th and excitement is rapidly building to welcome our staff and students back to campus! As we’ve continually seen over the past year, the conditions around COVID-19 continue to change. While we remain excited to return to in-person instruction, our return remains centered around health and safety measures aligned with the newly updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
As CDPH has stated, “Recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking) are fully implemented. This is consistent with CDC K-12 School Guidance.
Specific to masking, CDPH states, “Masks are one of the most effective and simplest safety mitigation layers to prevent in-school transmission of COVID-19 infections and to support full time in-person instruction in K-12 schools. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is transmitted primarily by aerosols (airborne transmission), and less frequently by droplets. Physical distancing is generally used to reduce only droplet transmission, whereas masks are one of the most effective measures for source control of both aerosols and droplets. Therefore, masks best promote both safety and in-person learning by reducing the need for physical distancing.”
As a parent myself, who has two school-aged children (9th and 6th grade) returning to in-person instruction this year, I understand that many of our families have questions regarding what safety measures will be in place for students and staff as we return. Below, is a summary of some key topics for your review, as well as a link to our comprehensive health and safety plan for the 2021-2022 school year. You may review the updated FUSD COVID-19 Safety Plan here. This plan is a living document and is subject to change and modifications. The plan will be reviewed and discussed at the July 28, 2021, Board of Education meeting (Click here).
As Dr. Moss, from ACPH has stated in recent weeks, “After vaccination, masking is the next most powerful tool we have to protect ourselves and each other during this latest wave of infections,” As such, all adults and students must wear a face covering at all times while on campus, except while actively eating or drinking, or while in a private office or alone in a classroom, unless exempted.
Under current CDPH guidelines, masks are optional outside of the classroom. At this time, FUSD will continue to have masks be worn outside the classroom, except when eating or participating in a Physical Education class where outdoor activities are able to be performed with sufficient physical distancing. Masks will be required during locker room use for Physical Education.
As stated by the CDPH, “Recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking) are implemented.” Therefore, teacher and other staff desks will be distanced as practicable to decrease unnecessary close proximity, while still allowing for a full in-person instructional program.
Although the updated guidance doesn’t mandate a specific physical distancing requirement. Students and staff will be distanced as is practicable, and this will remain a focal point of our operations during student lunch/meal times.
Cleaning and Disinfecting:
FUSD has equipment and supplies to disinfect its facilities. Custodial staff will disinfect high-touch surfaces (such as light switches, faucets, handrails, and doorknobs), classrooms, and common areas regularly. The district has also procured electrostatic sprayers for all campuses. Electrostatic spraying represents a new standard of infection control, and FUSD will employ this technology daily in all school settings.
While it is very important to fully clean and sanitize our campuses, there is mounting evidence that the prior concerns regarding surface-to-surface contact have not manifested itself as the primary method of transmission. Cleaning and sanitizing sites will remain a top priority, however, our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are best focused on preventing transmission through droplets and aerosols. Of course, as was noted in prior communications last spring, FUSD will continue to emphasize good hygiene practices and hand sanitizing/washing throughout the day.
HVAC & Air Purification:
Rigorous measures have been taken to provide maximum outside air to meet or exceed CDC standards. FUSD has adjusted HVAC dampers to bring in additional outside air, and sites are fitted with updated MERV 11-13 air filters, where possible. FUSD installed air purification units in all classrooms in the spring of 2021, as well as additional air purification units this summer for auxiliary spaces and large classroom spaces to provide filtration at the maximum extent practicable. The District has also purchased portable air purifiers to be placed as needed in areas (non-classroom space) that may need additional air purification, and in rooms where students may need to quarantine and/or isolate due to symptoms.
Athletics and Extracurricular Activities:
FUSD, along with other local districts, are awaiting updated information and guidance from Alameda County Public Health in the immediate future. Specific to athletics, FUSD will fully align all activities with NCS/CIF guidance.
Currently, vaccines are not mandated for staff or students, as they are still in the emergency use authorization phase. However, Alameda County and Fremont have a high percentage of individuals who are fully vaccinated (70.7% of all eligible residents over age 12 are fully vaccinated and over 83.3% have had at least one dose.). Due to FUSD’s efforts, the support of community partners, and the action of our employees, FUSD had an estimated 85% of our employees vaccinated by the end of March. Those numbers have only increased since that time. FUSD will continue to work with our generous community partners to provide vaccine accessibility and will provide information to our community regarding any such events.
Symptom Screening and Testing (COVID-19):
FUSD will ask that all students complete a daily symptom self-screener to ensure that students are checking each day, prior to leaving for school, for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Should you have any signs or symptoms, students should remain home from school and consult the FUSD COVID-19 Safety Plan for next steps.
FUSD will provide access to students on a monthly basis for asymptomatic testing when case rates exceed 25/100,000 (adjusted) and as recommended by the ACPH/CDPH. Students may only be tested with the permission of their parent/guardian. Testing is made available, not mandated.
Virtual Learning Academy/Independent Study:
As noted above, FUSD is implementing comprehensive safety and mitigation strategies, aligned with CDPH recommendations for a safe return to in person instruction. However, if you would like to inquire about enrolling in our FUSD Elementary Virtual Academy, please contact Director of Elementary Education, Robin Sehrt, at email@example.com. If you would like to inquire about attending our FUSD Secondary Independent Study program, please contact Principal Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our programs, as previously outlined (Elementary & Secondary Information Night videos) are compliant with the new state requirements and regulations for independent study. FUSD is required to return students back to in-person instruction within five days based on parent/guardian requests under the newly revised Education Code. Although this prompt return to in-person instruction is required, FUSD cannot guarantee the location and/or schedule for secondary students with such a quick turnaround. FUSD staff and Board of Education will be reviewing a new policy regarding this matter on Wednesday at a Special Board of Education Meeting on July 28, 2021 (Click here).
As we continue to approach the start of our instructional year, additional communication will continue to be shared by both FUSD and your respective school sites. Additionally, as noted in my prior Newsletter, at the end of this week, additional information will be provided to families related to the recent changes in Education Code related to retention and grade changes for the 2020-2021 school year (prior year). In the meantime, please feel free to review relevant information on our FUSD website.
Thank you to all our staff who’ve been working hard this summer to ensure a safe return for students and staff. I look forward to seeing our students and staff on campus very soon!