Although the situation with COVID-19 continues to rapidly change, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) still plans to reopen on Aug. 17 using a hybrid model that blends in-person and distance learning.
In a message to PUSD families, Superintendent Brian McDonald wrote: “While we would rather open schools in person, we are planning to reopen in a way that accounts for the fact that the COVID-19 virus will more than likely still be with us with no vaccine available. The health and safety of our students and staff is at the forefront of our minds. If health restrictions are lifted by the appropriate authorities and we deem it safe, we will move into a regular, in-classroom mode.”
Based on state and local public health guidelines and input from parent surveys, the PUSD Reopening Task Force has developed a plan to reopen schools.
The plan addresses health and safety on campuses by requiring face coverings, for which the district is now designing protocols and policies for exemptions and reinforcement. PUSD has purchases masks, face shields, no-touch thermometers, hand sanitizer, and gloves, along with cleaning supplies for enhanced disinfection of school sites and office buildings. All custodial staff have been trained according to CDC guidelines regarding the sanitation of facilities and the application of disinfectant to kill the coronavirus.
Social distancing will also be implemented inside and outside the classroom. Schools will only be allowed to have 50% of the student population on campus on any given day to allow for physical distancing and outdoor or other campus facilities will be used for learning. Students will be grouped and attend in-class and at home on alternating days. When possible, families will be grouped at all levels. Start times will be changed and staggered.
According to the superintendent, the district is working with community partners to provide and expand childcare services on non-classroom days.
The district is also designing a completely online learning option in the core curriculum for K-12 students. This online option will be different from the emergency remote learning model that was used in this spring and will focus on the core curriculum and offer increased live interaction. Additional tech support has been added for each school site.
PUSD is conducting a survey to determine the number of students who will attend the district’s virtual school. Parents have until July 9 to fill out the survey for each child in the family.
The plan may still be adjusted as state and local guidelines evolve, and as the district receives feedback from parents and the Board of Education.