L.A. County school districts’ hybrid learning plans align with state guidelines
Los Angeles County school district plans for the next academic year appear to fall within new guidelines released by California education officials on Monday, June 8, which anticipated that at least some students will continue to learn from home amid the ongoing pandemic.
The “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools” guide is intended to serve as a guide for discussion on reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year, decisions for which will be made at the local level.
They envision that many K-12 students will continue off-campus learning at least part of the week, and on-campus for the rest, via staggered schedules to enable social distancing in areas like cafeterias and playgrounds.
Students may remain in a single homeroom group of students throughout the day as teachers rotate classrooms to reduce hallway traffic. In the case of another COVID-19 spike in fall, which many experts cite as a possibility, reverting to full-time distance learning is likely, Thurmond said.
California’s 1,037 public school districts closed amid the growing pandemic in mid-March, prompting districts to undertake the gargantuan task of providing “distance learning” including online education. If students return to classrooms in the fall, they will have been out for a whopping 5 months.
“Right now is a critical time for districts to analyze their campuses, the footprints of their campuses, and make critical decisions about how many students they can educate with social distancing,” Thurmond said, acknowledging that some students like those with severe disabilities, English learners and young students without childcare are less able to learn from home.
L.A. Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner made a similar announcement last week in the wake of coronavirus guidelines for L.A. County schools. He said that if campuses reopen in the fall, which remains uncertain, instruction would likely be a “hybrid” model of on and off-campus learning to reduce the number of students.
Reopening schools would require “a delicate dance, with a thousand steps, each connected to the other,” he said in a regular televised and livestreamed pandemic update, insisting that “the risk from the virus will not be zero until there’s a vaccine or a treatment which is 100 percent effective.”
Pasadena Unified Superintendent Brian McDonald has said in recent weeks that the district was looking at implementing split tracks to have some students in classrooms and others online. Spokesperson Hilda Horvath told the Southern California Newsgroup a more specific plan will presented to the school board this month.
Chris Eftychiou, a spokesperson for Long Beach Unified, said “We’ll be examining these guidelines and monitoring any other guidance from partnering health agencies as we get closer to the new school year. We’ve anticipated the need for multiple types of learning opportunities that allow a combination of in-person and online learning.”
NEW STATE SCHOOL GUIDELINES
State education officials on Monday announced recommendations for the new public school year. They include:
- Temperature checks before students enter campus each day
- More opportunities for hand-washing
- Fewer students in each class, with some students doing distance learning all or part of the time
- Reduction in number of students on school buses
- School meals may be served in classrooms
- Students who can’t learn at home will be taught on campus
Source: California Department of Education