2020-21 School Teaching and Learning Plans Update
Evergreen Board of Trustees Approves Continuing
Distance Learning for Remainder of 2020-21 School Year
At a special meeting on December 3, 2020, the Evergreen School District Board of Trustees approved continuing distance learning for its TK-8 students and bringing back small stable cohorts for targeted vulnerable and at risk student groups for the 2020-21 school year. The Board of Trustees voted and approved the following recommendations by Superintendent Dr. Emy Flores:
- Continuing distance learning for Evergreen School District’s elementary and middle school students through the end of the 2020-21 school year.
- Continuing to evaluate the COVID-19 rates in our district community to determine if conditions significantly improve, and allow for the transition to a learning model for in-person learning, including in-person enrichment, student activities and athletics, during the 2020-21 school year and in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.
- Bringing back small stable cohorts of the district’s most at-risk and vulnerable student groups for targeted academic and social emotional support and intervention, following all of the recommended guidelines for student and staff safety.
- Continuing to provide high quality enrichment opportunities and social emotional support for all students in a virtual environment.
“Our Evergreen schools need to open to students in a way that is not only safe, but also provides students the best approaches to instruction and engagement,” said Dr. Flores. “With the Hybrid Learning Model, students would have had reduced live instructional time, reduced social interaction with each other, and, due to strict social distancing, teachers would not have the ability to facilitate effective instruction or projects in the ways they could before the pandemic, but are doing successfully through distance learning.”
Dr. Flores also noted, “Our families have been satisfied with distance learning, and we will continue to provide high quality instruction and enrichment opportunities, as well as social and emotional support so that our students will continue to thrive and enjoy learning.”
At the July 15 Board meeting, the Board determined that a full return to school in a Hybrid Model was not in the best interest of our students and staff, and approved for the EESD to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year in a Distance Learning Model. The Board also approved the Superintendent’s plan to re-evaluate the district’s ability to keep students and staff healthy and safe at the end of the third week in December to determine whether the Hybrid Learning Model could be implemented in January 2021 upon students’ return from Winter break. To accomplish this, the Superintendent reactivated the Superintendent's Teaching & Learning in Safe Environments Advisory Committee and its subcommittees in October, in order to re-evaluate the District’s ability to move to a Hybrid Learning Model.
The Superintendent’s Teaching and Learning in Safe Environment Committee and Subcommittees along with Dr. Flores considered a number of factors regarding the Hybrid Learning Model, including:
- The county's COVID-19 restriction phase and number of COVID-19 cases;
- The availability of teachers and staff to teach in this model from the classroom;
- The implementation of required health and safety measures, which will require reinforcement by teachers, staff and parents;
- Feasibility for facilities to support safe distancing of student cohorts indoors in the classrooms and other areas of campus; frequency of required cleaning in the hybrid schedule; and ability to install required air ventilation by January 2021;
- Impacts on the quality of teaching and learning that may change if the district brings students back to in-person learning in a hybrid learning model;
- Ability to maintain stable cohorts on campus;
- Potential of disruptions to on campus learning due to increases in COVID-19 cases, necessitating a transition back to distance learning for all students;
- Addressing the needs of the district's highest need students and students who are struggling academically; and
- Parent preferences to return to hybrid versus continuing distance learning.
- The District’s ability to provide in-person learning to students in a way that is not only safe, but also provides students the best approaches to instruction and engagement.
During the board meeting, the Board of Trustees was presented with information regarding the evaluations and recommendations of the Superintendent's Teaching & Learning in Safe Environments Advisory Committee and its subcommittees. This presentation can be found here. Key findings from these subcommittees include:
- The hybrid learning model for the middle schools would be logistically impossible to implement, would not allow for smaller stable learning cohorts, as required by the County Department of Health, and would not ensure the safest teaching and learning environment. Furthermore, the structure of the middle school schedules is not conducive to provide stable cohorts without disrupting the current schedule and the safety guidelines for social distancing and students participating in stable cohorts cannot be met with the current structure.
- The District must consider that many of our families, by the nature of their beliefs and their culture, generally have multiple generations living in one household. Many parents have expressed that their concern is not just for their children, but mostly for their aging parents and great grandparents who also live in their homes;
- Despite the challenges, the parent community has expressed satisfaction with the current Distance Learning model. Parent surveys indicated that most would be more comfortable having their child continue to learn in this model, and that students and staff would be safer in this model.
- 17% of district staff have a medical issue that would prevent them from returning to work on-site.
- In order to accommodate a hybrid learning model, due to contractual class sizes, students will likely be transferred to a different class therefore, requiring a transition to a new teacher mid-year;
- There is a shortage of certificated substitutes in Santa Clara County available to teach during an in-person hybrid model, which will create staffing shortages should a teacher need to quarantine;
- Based on the parent survey, 9% (569 students) stated they would not reinforce guidelines set forth by the CPH Department regarding social distancing and wearing masks, creating a risk to students, staff and teachers;
- The impact of hybrid learning models on student learning and achievement is of particular concern. While the district has the utmost confidence in its teachers, and have seen them rise to the occasion and beyond with distance learning, there is little evidence that shows that hybrid learning model would be the best for students, or the safest for the majority of the district’s staff and families. Teaching and learning would be different due to social distancing and no mixing of student cohorts. Furthermore, the current rise in COVID cases in Santa Clara County would likely create disruptions to on campus learning, requiring a transition back to distance learning; and
- The District’s most vulnerable and at risk students, including English Language Learners, homeless, living in a foster care setting or otherwise at risk have specific needs that require them in-person support and intervention for Distance Learning and have their social and emotional needs met. The current staffing levels allow for meeting these needs through small, stable, and targeted student cohorts that ensure student and staff safety.
The Evergreen School District’s Reopening Goals throughout this whole process have always been to develop a robust teaching and learning plan that addresses: keeping students and employees safe, reopening schools under various circumstances, adapting our learning environment to various circumstances, and creating an equitable learning environment for all students under any circumstance. The Guiding Principles used in this process are:
- Health and Safety: Adhere to public health orders and rely on guidance and recommendations from public health officials.
- Flexibility: Provide reasonable accommodations to individual students, families, and employees in response to their unique situations.
- Students' Social Emotional Well-being: Support the social and emotional well-being of our students, staff, and community.
- Learning: Provide high-quality instruction aligned with California State Standards.
Factors considered in this process have also been:
- Public Health Risks: To what extent can the health of students, staff, families and the general population be safeguarded while opening schools?
- Impact on Student Learning and Achievement: To what extent do students fall behind when schools are closed? To what extent are inequities exacerbated during school closures?
- Ability to Safeguard Schools: To what extent are we prepared to reopen with the right safety measures in place?
- Flexibility: To what extent are we prepared to offer learning options for students whose families may want 100% online distance learning?
- The district will continue to evaluate the COVID-19 rates in the district community to determine if conditions significantly improve, and allow for the transition to a learning model for in-person learning, including in-person enrichment, student activities and athletics, during the 2020-21 school year and in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.
For more information, please contact Johanna Villareal at (408) 270-6800 or visit the Safe Together website at www.eesd.org/safetogether.
Executive Summary (link)Board Presentation (link)
The District will continue to share regular updates about this process and will post these updates and information our Evergreen Safe Together webpages.