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Information on School Closures

Shared on Wednesday, April 1, 2020
 
Dear Union School District Community,

These past few weeks I have been uplifted by the emails and social media postings of teachers, parents, and principals. It is inspiring to see our community galvanized around supporting one another and ensuring that our children are being nurtured in a positive environment.
 
Update on The Closure of School Buildings

This afternoon Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond stated in a press conference that school buildings in California will remain closed for the remainder of the school year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is disheartening for all of us to know our students will not be back together in their classrooms. Learning in the presence of each other and their teachers is where the magic happens. It is in the interactions of children with one another and students with their teachers that deepens a shared learning that cannot be replicated by any textbook or virtual program. However, we are learning new ways to stay connected. We look forward to the time when we can safely be together again. In the meantime, distance learning will continue through the end of the normally scheduled school year. I know this brings forward additional questions, and as we learn more and receive state guidance, we will continue to provide updates and answers.

New Public Health Guidance
 
As you may have also heard, the Santa Clara County Health Officer and Public Health Director announced an updated order to extend the guidance to shelter in place through May 3. Additional restrictions were also announced. These actions were taken to further reduce the number of people with whom all individuals come in contact with every day.
 
New restrictions include:
  • Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas are prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
  • Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools, and rock walls are prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
  • Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
  • Essential businesses must develop a social distancing protocol before April 3.

What does this mean for us in USD?
It means that we will be securing/locking all school campuses to prohibit the use of the playgrounds, tracks and social meeting areas as outlined by the public health department. We understand that this is a hardship for our community. We support this preventative action outlined by our public health department to help our community stay healthy and flatten the curve.
 
County Public Health Information
 
Union School District At-Home Resources and Information - athome.unionsd.org
 
Your unwavering support of the health and safety of every one of our community members is deeply appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact me at colemand@unionsd.org.
 
Shared on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dear Union School District Community,
 
As some of you may have already heard, today the Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, in coordination with other Bay Area counties, announced the decision to extend the closure of all schools in the county through May 1, 2020, with school starting again on May 4, 2020. The press release from the Santa Clara County Office of Education can be found here.
 
I’m certain that this decision was a very challenging one to make for our local officials, and I am grateful that they are committed to making the tough decisions to protect the safety and best interests of our children and our community. My deepest appreciation to our local officials, our staff and our community in supporting the best interests of our children.
 
The following information provides additional details on supports during our extended closure.
 
At-Home Learning
 
Our teachers have been busy reconnecting with students this week, and it has been very exciting to watch our school communities come together virtually during these unprecedented times. With the extension of the school closures, we will be continuing our at-home learning program through May 1st. In the coming days, we will be asking students and parents to complete a brief survey to provide feedback so that we can revise our program as necessary based on our experiences learning at home together this week.
 
Our At-Home Learning website with additional online learning resources for students can be found at athome.unionsd.org. This website will continue to be updated with additional information and resources. If you would like to request to pick up your student’s school-issued iPad or Chromebook so that they have a dedicated device to use at home for learning for the duration of the closures, please complete this FORM http://bit.ly/usd-chromebook

Meals Distribution
 
USD staff will continue to provide drive-through, “Grab and Go” meals at Dartmouth Middle School from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the duration of the school closure.
 
Additional Resources
 
Please visit our At-Home Parent Website for additional resources to provide you with further support:

 
The Santa Clara County Office of Education also announced several partnerships to provide childcare for Emergency Service Workers. View the full press release for more information.
 
Thank you for your ongoing patience and dedication as we navigate this new experience together. Please know we remain committed to providing you with timely information and updates. While we don’t have all the answers at this time, we will continue to do everything we can to answer questions, and more importantly, we continue to be here for you and our students.
 

Sincerely,
Denise Coleman
Superintendent
 
Shared Tuesday, March 17, 2020
 
We are receiving daily updates from state and federal officials. Much of the guidance we have received is subject to interpretation from our County Office of Education and the California Department of Education. As such, we are working to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, during this uncertain time.
 
As many of you are aware, Governor Newsom conducted a press conference this afternoon. Much of the information that was shared is still being distilled by our state officials, county office and local advisers. We have been informed that State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, will be providing guidance on COVID-19 school closures tomorrow.
 
We know that you may have a myriad of questions following the Governor's press conference this afternoon. Below are the answers we know of, at this time:

How long will our schools in the Union School District be closed?
At this point in time, we will be closed from March 16 to April 3. Our spring break is the week of April 6. The District is monitoring information and coordinating with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and all other school districts in the County of Santa Clara. We are following the orders of local and state health authorities. Currently, all schools are scheduled to open April 13, 2020.

Is there a possibility that schools would remain closed longer than April 13?
Yes. We will follow the guidelines of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in conjunction with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and all 31 school districts in Santa Clara County.
 
How will the closures impact the school year? Will we have to make up lost days at the end of the school year?
No. The Governor’s Executive Order N-26-20 allows school districts to continue to receive uninterrupted funding from the state and the closures will not impact the requirement of the instructional calendar if the District’s Superintendent certifies that the closure occurred to address COVID-19. Our school year will end on June 4, 2020.
 
How do we continue to provide access to learning for ALL students?
While we were preparing for the potential shutdown, and possible at-home learning opportunities, there was conflicting information from the California Department of Education and US Department of Education which caused us to pause our plan. Specifically, a legal analysis of the guidance provided that: "...given the potential equity issues, and potential for related liability claims, LEAs (school districts) should consider delaying implementation at least until Tuesday March 17, when CDE (California Department of Education) and HHSA (Health and Human Services Agency) are expected to issue their guidance." This guidance was important for us to follow as we believe all students should have access to learning and we anticipate that potential legal issues are now being addressed by the Governor. As of the end of the business day today, March 17, we are awaiting guidance.
 
What can I do if I do not have access to a computing device at home?
We want to ensure all of our students have access to a device. If you need a device, or your student left their district issued device at their school, please complete this FORM http://bit.ly/usd-chromebook Our site techs will be in contact to arrange for device pickup. Please note that you will be asked to sign a loan agreement when picking up the Chromebook and will be asked to return the device when we return to school.

What can I do if I do not have internet access at home?
Please contact your site principal to request assistance with Internet access. Alternatively, you may contact Comcast directly about their free Internet Essentials broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days for households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Comcast broadband subscription. To enroll call 1-855-846-8376 or visit https://www.internetessentials.com/.

What is the district’s plan for At-Home Learning?
We have been diligently working on our plan to support learning at-home for the duration of the school closures. We are fortunate to have access to a level of technology resources and support that many districts simply do not, and our plan is built around using the tools our students and teachers are familiar with, including Google Classroom, Seesaw and Google Docs and Slides. However, that does not mean everyone has the same access or support at home. While providing equitable access for all students represents a significant challenge, we are committed to supporting all of our families in continuing to access learning opportunities during the school closures.

Our technology department is in the process of assessing family needs for devices and wifi and setting up the logistics for providing access for all students. We have developed resources and an online learning framework for our teachers to move forward with in supporting student learning at home. This week, we are focusing on developing training and providing professional development for teachers to help them transition to supporting students learning at-home. We will be training all teachers on Thursday and Friday in preparation for launching our at-home learning program starting on Monday, March 23rd. Information about how to access the online learning resources will be communicated by the end of this week.

As we roll out our at-home learning plan, we would like to recognize that no online learning environment can possibly replicate the face-to-face classroom experience we’re used to in our schools. Our goal with providing at-home learning is to promote opportunities for students to engage in learning essential knowledge and skills that they will need to be successful when face-to-face classroom learning resumes. We also recognize that this transition will be new for students and families. For the first two weeks, our plans will focus on shifting students to an online learning environment through the use of consistent tools and routines.
 
My child has an IEP. What does this mean for my child?
Students with IEP’s have unique learning goals and needs. Our Director of Special Education is in contact with our County Office of Education and will be providing updates on what learning and services will look like for your child as soon as that guidance is provided. We will do everything we possibly can to minimize the negative impacts of school closures on our students and families.
 
Will state assessments (CAASPP) still happen?
At this time, we have not been provided a definitive answer to this question from the California Department of Education. They have informed us that they are focusing on the social and emotional well-being of students and are examining all options for suspending state assessments.
 
How long will the District be providing meals while schools are closed?
Anyone in our community may receive a bag meal for the duration of our school closure. Meals will be provided from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. at Dartmouth Middle School on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We are looking to extend this opportunity to families from Monday through Friday.
 
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Shared Monday, March 16, 2020
 
These are unprecedented times and I am humbled by the outreach I have received from parents and staff asking how they can support our children. We have an amazing community and while we’re facing one of the most challenging crises of our lifetime, I feel comforted knowing that we have a community that is built upon a foundation of compassion, kindness and love.
 
As I’m sure that most of you are acutely aware, this afternoon the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department announced further restrictions on travel and gatherings across our county. For your safety and the safety of your family, we urge everyone to follow the county order. Effective today, we will be closing our district office to public access until further notice.
 
Santa Clara County Public Health Frequently Asked Questions
Updated to include FAQs on the order issued today, March 16, 2020
 
Order of the Health Officer of the County of Santa Clara
New Order Directing Individuals to Shelter at Home Except to Provide or Receive Essential or Engage in Essential Activities; Effective March 17, 2020 at 12:00 a.m.
 
Curbside Meal Pick-Up at Dartmouth Middle School
 
During the school closures, we will be providing drive-through, “Grab and Go” meals at Dartmouth Middle School (5575 Dartmouth Dr, San Jose), beginning Wednesday, March 18th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. These meals will be provided every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the duration of the closure. Campbell Union High School District is also providing meals at each of their campuses for students in the community from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m.
 
These meals will be available for free to anyone 18 and under regardless of what school they attend. No paperwork or identification is required. Children must be present in order for meals to be provided, and the number of meals provided will be based on the number of children present.
 
The meal program will be solely for the pick up of meals, and we ask that meals not be consumed on-site. We encourage families to continue to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 by not congregating at the school site and practicing social distancing once meals have been picked up.
 
Medication
 
Kris Suzuki, our amazing District Nurse, will be delivering student medication currently housed at schools to each family throughout the district this week. If you have any questions about your student’s medication housed at school, please reach out directly to Ms. Suzuki at suzukik@unionsd.org.
 
At-Home Learning
 
As previously communicated over the weekend, we expect guidance on specific requirements and expectations for delivering online learning and special education services during the school closures from the state on Tuesday. Once we have that guidance in hand, we will assess the requirements as quickly as possible and share information on our plan to provide learning moving forward. In the meantime, we have assembled optional resources to use at home and have posted them on our District Website. We will continue to update this site with additional resources over time.
 
While these are uncertain times, I have never been more certain - more proud - of our USD family. Teachers, classified staff, administrators, Board members and community members have stepped forward, asking how they can help. With a community built on strength and compassion, I know that we will come through this together stronger.
 
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Shared Saturday, March 14, 2020
 
Dear Union Families,
 
This is a rapidly evolving situation and our goal is to provide you with the best information we have at the time. This message serves as a follow-up to the email you received yesterday and hopefully will help answer some of the many questions I am sure everyone has:
 

School Closures

The Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools and all county district superintendents have decided to close schools for three weeks from Monday, March 16, 2020, through April 3, 2020. Spring Break will continue as scheduled April 6 - April 10, 2020. All schools are scheduled to return on April 13, 2020. The decision to close was made to give districts time to plan for the implementation of the new guidance from the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health around social distancing. As of Friday, there were no known cases of COVID-19 among students or staff in Union School District.

During this closure, our district office will remain open during the hours of 10am-2pm, Monday through Thursday.

Our goal over the next three weeks is to work closely with our County Office of Education and other districts in our county to determine what school will look like for all of our students moving forward. We will develop a plan that allows us to continue to operate in a manner that complies with all applicable public health guidance and department of education requirements while addressing the possibility that a significant portion of our staff could be impacted and unable to work for a variety of reasons.

At-Home Learning

On Thursday we received conflicting information from the US Department of Education and California Department of Education regarding distance learning and independent study during school closures. While we were in the process of seeking clarification Friday, the decision to close schools was made. Given the rapidly changing nature of this situation, we made the decision not to immediately deploy our at-home learning plan, in the anticipation that we would receive additional clarification from the state.
Friday evening, Governor Newsom signed an executive order addressing online learning and independent study during school closures. We expect guidance from the state on the implementation requirements for online learning and independent study by Tuesday, March 17th. The governor’s order also directed the state to provide schools with guidance on continuing to provide special education services to students during the closure, and we expect to receive more information about how to implement this by March 17th as well.

Some districts have already begun offering online learning or packet-based opportunities to families. Others have not. We are going to take a few days to better understand the state’s requirements, assess and adapt our plan as needed, and will update you with our plan as we move forward.


Talking to Your Child about COVID-19

We understand that kids have many questions and concerns as they, too, are navigating this new situation. PBS Kids for Parents, has tips and videos to help with conversations around Covid-19.
 

What About Grades?

Please don’t worry about grades right now. We will make every effort to ensure there is no negative impact on grades during this unprecedented situation. We hope to have more information to share about how we will address grading once we receive guidance on the Governor’s executive order.
 

Independent Study

If you currently have an Independent Study agreement with assigned work and you would like to complete it, you may do so. We will not be collecting Independent Study work at this time, but hang on to it, that may change.
For anyone that requested Independent Study and did not receive work prior to the school closure, particularly any request submitted on Friday, please be patient. We believe that the Governor’s executive order made some changes to districts’ ability to offer Independent Study during school closure. We expect to have more information about the status of Independent Study once we receive guidance.
 

Will the School Year be Extended?

We do not know the impact of how the Governor will or will not adjust the school calendar at this time, however, there is not a current expectation of making those days up at the end of the school year.
 

Reminder: Travel

As spring break approaches, we would like to remind you to please take all necessary precautions to protect yourselves and our community from this and any illness if traveling. Current County Public Health Guidelines can be found here.

Thank you for your continued patience as we navigate through this uncharted time. We will continue to keep you updated as the situation evolves.
 
 
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