Dear Oakland Community,
Today I am writing to let you know that we have finalized our COVID-19 Health and Safety Reopening Plan and Program (Reopening Plan) for reopening our schools to in-person learning and instruction. The plan includes the components required by the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) regarding reopening for in-person instruction and has been submitted to ACOE as required.
Before sharing highlights of the Reopening Plan, I want to point out several important considerations to keep in mind:
Timing and the current COVID resurgence: Like all of you, we are painfully aware of our county’s recent move back to the Purple Tier on the State’s COVID-19 criteria system. While we CANNOT reopen in the Purple Tier, we have a duty to plan and prepare for when we can. ACOE requires that our Reopening Plan include a target date for reopening and as it stands right now, our plan is to implement our phased reopening starting on Monday, January 25, 2020, if permitted. For more details, please refer to the plan linked below. Of course, that is dependent on where Alameda County is on the colored tier system since, as stated above, schools cannot open when the county is in the Purple Tier. Our overall approach to reopening is based on the science and safety standards, and reaching agreements with our labor partners. As conditions improve, the plan is likely to evolve.
The purpose of the Reopening Plan: Per state guidelines, school districts that complete a COVID-19 Health and Safety Reopening Plan will be permitted to open for in-person instruction upon review by ACOE.
Other preparations underway: The Reopening Plan is one critical and required step in our process for reopening. We have started negotiating the impacts of our phased-in reopening approach with our teachers’ union, the OEA, starting with in person small cohorts. We will also continue partnerships and discussion with our classified unions throughout the reopening process (AFSCME, BCTC, SEIU Local 1021 and UAOS). Finally, now more than ever, we recognize the need to establish more nontraditional ways of including the diverse voices of parents, caregivers, and families across Oakland. This too, will be a critical part of the process over the coming weeks.
Guided by our COVID-19 Action Team’s recommendations.
In July, our COVID-19 Action Team drafted a set of recommendations for returning students and teachers to the classroom. The core elements of those recommendations still guide our planning:
Phased-in approach: The Reopening Plan follows the Action Team’s recommendations to bring students back to school sites, in phases, over time
Small cohorts and equity: The Reopening Plan also follows the recommendations that the first students to return should be those for whom distance learning is truly not working (students with low attendance, skill regression in special education, etc.). You will see the sequence for how students return to in-person learning and instruction detailed in the Reopening Plan. (Please note that small cohorts are allowed to return prior to reopening.)
The Four S’s: We remain guided by Science, Safety, Staff support, and Student learning. This approach is consistent with the Alameda County Public Health Guidance.
You will also see the ways in which you have directly influenced our Reopening Plan through surveys and meetings.
Extensive safety protocols aligned with public health guidance.
Much of the document will probably feel a little familiar as we detail the extensive safety guidance to which we are aligning (e.g., small cohorts, physical distance, masks for all, symptom screening, safety protocols, etc.). I want to appreciate the staff who have been working hard to learn about and implement the new guidelines to get our schools ready.
Returning to in-person learning and instruction will not look like regular school.
As you review the Reopening Plan, I want to make sure everyone understands that this is not simply returning to how things were before the pandemic started.
Our goal is to provide a space for every student who wants to participate in in-person learning and support within the physical and safety limits of our schools. Safety procedures will be in place. Significantly fewer students will be on campus at any given time. Not all staff members will return for in-person learning and instruction. Additionally, in-person learning will still be centered around distance learning since we anticipate a significant portion of students and staff members will remain in a distance learning environment.
Only three Alameda County public school districts currently have a labor agreement allowing them to return to in-person instruction.
ACOE maintains a list of schools/districts within the county that have posted the required reopening plans. There are five public school districts among the ~80 posted plans. While some public districts have announced a target date for returning, we are aware of only three that have reached an agreement with their labor partners.
Continuing our preparations for in-person learning and instruction.
Our OUSD Readiness to Return Dashboard reflects our most up-to-date COVID-19 preparedness efforts and the steps we have completed to meet the standards from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) to ensure safety for our students and staff. It is updated weekly. You can learn more at www.ousd.org/readinessdashboard.
We will post translated versions of the plan at www.ousd.org/reopening2021 and there is also a form you can use to submit questions/feedback about the Reopening Plan.
As always, thank you for your support and perseverance as we continue on this journey together.
Please wear your masks, be safe, and take care of yourself, your family, and our city.
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