Dear Saklan Community,
I want to start with gratitude and acknowledgments. Saklan received its Waiver from the county with relative ease due to many people's hard work and dedication. While the COVID-19 Task Force drove the waiver/reopening process, many others stepped up to make it possible. Moreover, I would be remiss not to mention all the hard work that went into making the distance learning program successful and robust, although no replacement for face-to-face learning. While not acknowledging individuals, I will say those on the COVID-19 Task Force, the Admin Team, and so many teachers and parents pitched in to make the start of the year, and the Waiver possible.
In July, Saklan was getting close to having systems in place that followed state-wide mandates when Governor Newsom announced that many counties would not open schools in August. A waiver process was put into place, but each county developed its timeline. Contra Costa County released their process in late August, and Saklan submitted its plan in the first week of September. Part of the process included conversations with officials at the County Health Department who went through each step of our Waiver and added helpful but intricate procedures.
Once the Waiver was approved, it went back to the Task Force for consideration. From there, the Task Force made a recommendation to the Board, and the Board then considered the recommendations and had a conversation about how they envisioned reopening the school for in-person learning. From those conversations came two additions to our reopening plan.
We will require each student to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus for in-person learning. (All teachers/staff will be regularly tested.)
We will stagger our reopening. We will start with K-2nd grades on campus first, following with 3rd-5th (possibly 6th) a couple of weeks later.
* Details regarding both of these will be communicated next week.
I understand that both of these additions create a burden on families. Unfortunately, the county added new restrictions that increased the level of complexity to our reopening. It is essential to get it right and for us to go slow before we go fast.
We will reopen for K-2nd as an in-person class on Wednesday, September 30th. The 28th and 29th will be days where the students may have some work to do for class, but online classes will not be held. Teachers will be using those days to transition back to in-person learning, preparing classrooms, going over safety procedures, etc. The exact schedule will be emailed out early next week.
On Wednesday, October 14th, we will open grades 3rd-5th (and possibly 6th, our planning is still taking place). Like K-2nd, teachers in 3rd-5th will use October 13th (and our Professional Development day on the 9th) to prepare their classrooms for the students' return. There will be no online classes for students in grades 3rd-5th on October 13th.
We do hope that towards the end of October, the county will be in the "red zone" and will be able to bring our 7th and 8th grade students to campus.
Other Reopening / COVID-19 Related Information
More Improvements - If you have been following our facility improvements over the summer, you know that we have added outdoor learning spaces, improved our ventilation system with hospital grade filter systems, installed sinks, sanitizers and non-touch faucets throughout the campus. We have now purchased for every classroom an air purifier with ultraviolet lights to kill germs. We will also be adding 1200 sq. ft. of outdoor learning space, giving us over 3000 sq. ft. of outdoor classroom space.
Being Responsible - While infection rates continue to improve, it is also easy to get comfortable and relax, leading to another jump in rates. Once the school is open, we can stay open even if infection rates increase county wide. But, if we have even a small outbreak at school, the county may close the school. As a community, it is our responsibility to keep our students and teachers healthy and in school.
Flu Shots - This year, more than most, getting a flu shot is extremely important. The symptoms of COVID-19 present much like the common flu. We have had to send students home from the ECE for something as simple as a runny nose. The better job we do avoiding any illness, the more likely we will be successful in having a good year.
Survey - Next week, we will be sending a survey to parents regarding their intention to send their students back to school or keep them home. Our online options will be limited once we are in session. We will be setting aside time towards the end of the school day to connect with those at home and help them with their academics. We will do our best but will be limited by how much "live-teaching" we can do during the school day.
Bus - Next week, we will be sharing information regarding the school bus. The seating will be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the fees will increase significantly.
Extended Day - While we are in cohorts and under COVID-19 restrictions, we do not see a way to open extended day for K-8 that is safe and cost-effective. The school day will end between 2:00 and 2:20 pm for students.
As always, thank you for your patience and support. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me. More information will be coming early next week.