Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) Trustees heard from Director of Educational Services Sean Duncan on the five committees working on protocols for reopening schools and the results of the surveys sent to parents, students and staff members. The in-depth surveys included questions on what the stakeholders were most concerned about. The survey also asked which of the five learning protocols each family would choose.

Superintendent William Spalding included these thoughts in the agenda.

“Staff recommends action by the Board to direct staff to plan and prepare for each of the five scenarios, but to focus and intensify its efforts on planning for the likely scenario of continued social distancing, hygiene, sanitation and personal protective equipment requirements remaining in place in August, which necessitates a blended/hybrid learning model, with half of students physically on campus/in class, and the other half remotely learning,” wrote Spalding. “This action requires that staff take all necessary steps to be prepared to provide this model for the start of school in August.”

The five committees are studying best practices and plans for preparing for every aspect of school operations in each of the five scenarios, a steering committee and the five foregoing study committees have been convened to ready the district for any eventuality.

Each of the five committees will report on their current progress in preparation for the reopening of school in August. The five committees consist of Scheduling and Staffing headed by Joe Saramago; Culture, Climate, and Communication led by Lisa Pettis; Curriculum and Professional Development headed by Robert Lemon; Health and Safety led by Teri Brown; and the One-to-One Rollout overseen by Kevin Clemons.

The five potential scenarios for school operations are: Normal Operation, Modified Normal Operation (no large gatherings), a 50/50 Blended Schedule (1/2 students on campus, 1/2 off campus to achieve social distancing), 1/4 or 1/5 Blended Schedule (if social distancing or public health orders require very small groups) and Fully Remote Learning (students learning remotely, modified significantly from the Spring 2020 model).

Staff results for their choice on learning protocols were mixed with 38% wanting students on campus, 46% preferred a 50/50 blend and 30% opted for on-campus one day per week.

Trustee Terry Parker-Owning was concerned with the low feedback from staff personnel, “that only about half had responded”. “Why didn’t they all reply?”

Duncan said he would resend the survey, encouraging more to respond.

The family/student survey results came in at 53% for on-campus learning, 36% wanted a mix of 50/50 and 11% wanted online instruction. The follow-up question of their second choice, should on-campus learning not be possible, came in with 80% wanting the 50/50.

Board President Daniel Denier asked about their greatest concerns.

Duncan said it was pretty consistent with the question of having to wear masks, safety in the classrooms and social distancing practices. Teachers and staff members were very concerned about a lack of access to students, training needs and keeping students motivated.

Saramago said his team has been working hard on possible schedules for each scenario. They also measured classrooms for how many students could safely be in class and still accommodate social distancing. Mondays would have a time period where teachers could train and collaborate with each other.

Trustee Mark Beck said he was concerned that students would not have access to on-hands work in shop and labs for welding, mechanics, small engines, diesel and even band. Saramago said the committee would look into how that might be made possible.

Lemon summarized the work done by the Curriculum and Professional Learning Committee. Committee member Jason Lopez talked about trainings for teachers on Atlas, which will be used for lesson plan layouts.

“Training will include the Just-in-Time interventions,” Lopez said. “Then they can go unit by unit so all teachers have the same standards and there’s less gaps in knowledge.”

Lemon said the meetings have been very productive.

“This has given all of us, administrators, staff (and) teachers time and a good safe place to throw out ideas,” Lemon said. “When they go back to their students, they’ll have a consistent message.”

Pettis said the Culture, Climate and Communication Committee consists of 21 members. She said their early meetings were to create the surveys and then to go through the responses. They also will work on a freshman survival guide. They are collaborating with Galt Police Department and looking at Saturday School for detention.

“We can sit here and plan, and plan and plan,” Pettis said. “But all of this could change. So how do we plan when things change? We’ve talked about how to keep students informed and make sure they feel supported.”

Clemons reported on the One-to-One Implementation Committee.

“When you have to support students on distance learning, how do you do that?” Clemons said. “You take care of them. We’re using all the things we used before and more. I was concerned about getting computers but all of a sudden we heard all of them are in the warehouse. We now have enough computers to handle anything. We’ll have charging stations on campus for students who bring their computer needing to be charged.”

Teri Brown gave her report on the Health and Safety Committee.

“We will protect the health and safety by continually monitoring the guidance of the health authorities,” Brown said. “We’re looking at the parameters around masks, social distancing and sanitizing, who will be doing the cleaning and how it will be done. We are also looking at what to do if someone falls ill at school, providing isolation areas, and we’re updating our food service plan.”

Trustee Dennis Richardson asked how teachers would be supported should they need help with students on social distancing and wearing masks.

“If you have a child who is scared and says they don’t want to go into the classroom, do you have a plan for that?” asked Richardson.

“We will be available to check in and see how things are going,” Brown said. “We’ll train teachers on how to identify a student that’s sick – we do have our school psychologist on staff that they can talk to.”

The trustees will hold another zoom meeting tomorrow, Thursday, July 9, to hear more updates on the budget and reopening plans. To join the meeting, visit the district’s website at www.ghsd.us, scroll down to the “Join Board Meeting” and click the link.