With the majority of the Feb. 24 Galt Joint Union Elementary School District meeting spent focused on the path to re-opening schools, the school board discussed criteria regarding re-opening schools, noted that the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations had taken place earlier that day for teachers and heard from community members, most of who expressed their desire for re-opening schools.

The board discussed continuing distance learning at the middle school level until the case rate improves to meet state guidance criteria and suggested re-opening pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade before spring break following the updated state guidance for elementary schools.

The board noted that the district has completed the COVID-19 safety plan for re-opening schools and that it has submitted the plan to Sacramento County Public Health officials. The plan includes the CAL/OSHA prevention program and the COVID-19 school guidance checklist.

One point in regards to re-opening schools is that schools will need to ensure they have substitute teachers. However, it was noted that some substitutes received the vaccine earlier that day.

It was mentioned that over 40 small cohorts have been implemented since October 2020 that apply safety measures needed to transition to a blended a.m./p.m. model (which would occur in the red and orange tiers depending on number of cases per 100,000 people in the county) and that progress was made in getting back into schools overall after five lines of 25 cars showed up for the first round of vaccinations for teachers, and that a second round of vaccinations are scheduled for March.

Re-opening schools was the entire focus of the public comments made during the meeting, as well, with parents making impassioned pleas as to the necessity of letting students learn in the classroom.

Board members noted afterward that they are doing everything they can to make re-opening schools a reality.

“We’re not locked into an a.m./p.m. model. We’re in a really good position to re-open,” GJUSD Superintendent Karen Schauer said.

The a.m./p.m. model involves reducing the number of students on campus by 50% at any given time and allowing students to meet with teachers in person four days a week.

Financially, new COVID-19 relief funds were discussed, with the district expecting to receive $3.4 million in education stabilization funds that will need to be spent by Sept. 30.

Other possible funds include a learning recovery grant projected at $2.3 million that would also need to be spent by Sept. 30 and an in-person learning grant that would need to be spent by July