July 10, 2020

Good Afternoon Belmont-Redwood Shores Community,

I hope this message finds you well and enjoying summer!  In this update is information on the following:
  • BRSSD Principles for Reopening
  • A timeline for family notifications
  • A selection of frequently asked questions

District leadership and our Board of Trustees are working diligently to balance all of the elements, concerns and challenges that come with safely reopening school in August.  To ensure that we are making the best decisions for our students and families, we developed the following five core principles based upon feedback from our community and stakeholders:

Prioritize Safety   
The Health and safety of our community is our top priority. The District will promote the safety of students and staff by setting clear protocols and building routines that promote a healthy learning and work environment.  We will follow guidance from the San Mateo Department of Public Health and CDC.
 
Ensure Instructional Quality
We will deliver our high-quality, balanced instructional program that meets the diverse educational and social-emotional needs of all students.  We will provide necessary support and accommodations for vulnerable groups and those who face challenges learning online.  We will support staff in making these transitions and will follow guidance from the San Mateo County Office of Education.
 
Facilitate Effective and Open Communication   
We will communicate clearly and regularly with all our stakeholders, doing our best to provide information and manage expectations of teachers, staff, families, and community members.
 
Promote Consistency
We will provide consistency in instructional schedules whether in person or remote.  We will develop instructional models that will be in place for the duration of the school year and provide the flexibility to make adjustments in the delivery of instruction to students as local, state, and federal mandates and guidelines shift.  We will support staff in making these transitions and will follow guidance from the California Department of Education.
 
Foster Reciprocal Accountability  
We acknowledge the professional expertise of our educators to meet the diverse needs of our students while sustaining effective learning environments. Reciprocal accountability implies that accountability is shared and that leaders are responsible for providing support to achieve our District goals. Candid and constructive conversations among all educators will serve to enhance teaching and learning.
 
Next Friday, July 17th, we will move forward with our final survey in preparation for the 2020-21 school year.  We ask all families to respond to the survey by Friday, July 24 with their intentions to return back to school in August.  We will be collecting some family preferences, however, we cannot guarantee the ability to accommodate these requests.   Siblings and families with children at multiple school sites will automatically receive the same schedule designation.  

Families will receive “A” or “B” schedule notifications between July 31 and August 7th.  Specific classroom assignments will be made available from school sites on Monday, August 17.

We recognize that our community still has many questions about program design.  We will be publishing additional frequently asked questions as we move forward.  However, in preparation for schedule preference selection, we would like to share the following:

Will a full distance learning module be more robust than an in-person model?
BRSSD is committed to providing a choice to our families.  The at-home distance learning model and the in-person at school model will follow similar “A” or “B” designations.  Based on our experiences in the spring, we believe that students are best served on-line in smaller groups.  Ensuring that we have staff available to meet the desires of our community will require that both models follow similar schedules.

How will an A/B schedule work?
Students opting for the in person format will receive alternating days of in-person learning and independent study.  One day will be spent in the classroom with a stable cohort of students.  Assignments will be provided for independent study for the following day.  Students will also receive their “specials” where appropriate.  Specials are classes such as Science, Music, PE as determined by grade level.

“A” days are designated as Monday and Thursday.  “B” days are designated as Tuesday and Friday.  Students in the “A” group will attend school on Wednesday when there is a Monday holiday, and students in the “B” group will attend school on Wednesday when there is a Friday holiday. Wednesdays will be distributed to ensure both groups receive 90 days of in-person instruction .  All students will attend in-person 90 days regardless of their designated schedule.  The instructional calendar will be adjusted so that both the “A” and “B” group receive the same amount of instructional minutes.

We are continuing to evaluate the schedule for Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten.  It is possible that transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students will participate in a split day with the “A” group attending in-person in the morning and “B” group attending in-person in the afternoon.  

How will you ensure consistency among classrooms for distance learning?
The California legislature recognized inconsistencies across the state of California as educators transitioned their practice from traditional models of instruction to distance learning.  While we are continuing to work with staff to promote consistency, Senate Bill 98 provides guidance that we must follow.  Some key points of SB 98 are as follows:
  • Content must be aligned to grade level standards and provided at a level that is substantially equivalent to in-person instruction.
  • Districts must provide students with daily live interaction with teachers and peers for purposes of instruction, progress monitoring, and maintaining school connectedness.
  • Districts must provide academic and other supports for students who are not performing at grade level or need additional student services, like mental health services.
  • Special education and related services must be provided with any accommodations necessary to ensure a student’s individualized education program (IEP) can be implemented in a distance learning environment.
  • Districts must provide designated and integrated instruction in English language for English learners, including the assessment of English language proficiency and the ability to reclassify as fully English proficient.
  • Districts must provide the minimum school day to be between 3-4 hours depending on grade.

My child receives special services.  How will students with special needs be accommodated?
Students receiving special services will receive a combination of in-person and remote services. Some services will only be delivered remotely in order to reduce the potential risk of seeing students from different cohorts. Specialists will work closely with general education teachers to ensure that accommodations are in place for both in-person and remote learning.
  
If I choose distance learning, and then half way through the year the health official lifts the regulations, can my child return back to school? 
We are working to develop a system that is flexible and responsive to the changing conditions that we will experience during the school year.  We will not be able to accommodate mid-year preference changes within the A/B model or between in-person and distance learning.  Should health conditions allow a full return on a traditional schedule, we will schedule all students to return.

If we go back to pre-Covid classrooms the following school year 2021-2022, and I choose distance learning for 2020-2021, will my child lose their spot in the school for the new school year?
No.  A student’s school assignment will not change.

How can I learn more about the steps BRSSD is taking to promote the safety of students and staff?
The District will promote the safety of students and staff by setting clear protocols and building routines that promote a healthy learning and work environment.  District staff and site principals will be sharing these protocols with our community.  Please remember that we will follow the guidelines established by the San Mateo County Department of Public Health , The SMCOE Pandemic Recovery Framework as well as the Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools .
  
I want to express to you my confidence in our abilities to reopen our schools with the support and guidance of our local agencies.  I also want to thank the entire Belmont-Redwood Shores School District staff.  Our employees have been hard at work preparing and planning for the new school year.  Again, should you have any questions or want to share your concerns please email feedback@brssd.org .

Sincerely,

Dan Deguara
Superintendent




Suvarna Bhopale | Amy Koo | Samuel Leinbach | Jim Howard | Rahila Passi | Board of Trustees