2020-21 Return to School Health and Safety Plan

Latest Update Regarding Return to School >>

July 17th, Governor Gavin Newsom announced and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a new mandate that school districts in counties on California’s “COVID Watchlist” must remain online only until they meet a series of requirements related to testing and numbers of new cases.  Because Fresno County is on the watchlist we will need to meet this mandate before being allowed to offer on-site instruction as an option to families. To be prepared for on-site instruction (when the Governor and CDPH’s mandate is met) and online instruction, Clovis Unified will continue to:
  • Ask parents to complete their students’ annual information update available through ParentConnection,
  • Still select their preferred option of on-site or online instruction for their student, and
  • Be prepared that, should Fresno County still be on the watchlist by August 17, students will start classes using online, teacher-led instruction until such time as those who selected a return to on-campus instruction may be allowed on-site.

We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about the most recent mandates for schools.  Our original decision to provide families two choices: to bring their children back to campus or access online learning was made after weighing our ability to deliver all of the current health and safety practices, and the essential need of our students to receive the academic, emotional and physical benefits of being at school. Our employees also had an important role in guiding our decision-making as they are the key to serving our students; as did surveys of parents and staff showing support for a return to campus. Without the benefits our kids receive through in-person instruction on our school campuses they are struggling academically, emotionally and physically.

At the same time, after months of receiving a constant stream of new and differing guidance from Sacramento as COVID conditions change, we understood that our plans had to be ready to pivot to a full online instructional model at any moment. That the Governor’s announcement came just days after we, and hundreds of other school systems in California, had announced plans to open the school year is disappointing. However, we were prepared for the possibility at any time, whether the day after our decision or a week into the new school year.

In making our decision to offer on-site instruction, we had analyzed the pediatric data for youth and COVID as well as adult transmission research, and held lengthy conversations with our employee groups and public health officials about how to reduce risk and meet health and safety guidance on our campuses. Board members in making their decision had also cited concerns about long-term risks facing students because of prolonged campus closures including loss of learning and slowed academic progress, food insecurity, increases in social-emotional struggles and hopelessness, inequity in technology access, loss of school-based supports, and struggles facing students with special needs to name a few.

We continue to respond to changes from Sacramento while working to save our students from the intrinsic harm they have suffered as they have been kept from our school campuses.  We will also regularly assess COVID conditions in the hopes that by mid-August they have improved because our community is practicing needed safety measures.

A Wheel of Topics found to the right

Families Should:

  1. Review all elements of the 2020-21 Return to School Health & Safety Plan
  2. Identify the instructional model that suits your family’s needs
  3. Complete your student’s Annual Information Update through ParentConnect by July 31

Message from Eimear O'Farrell Ed.D.

Dear Clovis Unified students, parents and staff,
Our founding Superintendent Doc Buchanan used to say, “Education revolves around teamwork and trust.” As we prepare for the start of the 2020-21 school year while still in the midst of the COVID pandemic, teamwork and trust remain at the forefront of our decision-making.  Together, our staff, Governing Board, students and families have navigated uncharted territory.  We have done so by making decisions based on the responsibility that comes hand-in-hand with the trust placed in us by our families, staff and students to keep their well-being at the forefront.

I recognize that questions about the start of the 2020-21 school year have dominated the thoughts of many of our families. We have heard from a great majority of our community and employees that they want kids to return to school and are concerned about the negative academic, social and emotional impact to students during this time. At the same time, we respect the guidance from Fresno County’s Department of Public Health that has repeatedly emphasized the need for physical distancing, face coverings and other mitigation measures to help prevent the spread of COVID.

As a result, our Governing Board and Administration have developed a Return to School Health and Safety Plan that provides families with two temporary options: a full online learning model and a traditional model in which students are on campus five days a week. These temporary options will be in place for at least the first six weeks of school, unless the status of the COVID pandemic in our county improves significantly. 

Since June, a team of close to 100 employees have been hard at work preparing for the start of the 2020-21 school year this August. As you can imagine, this work has been extensive, examining every element of our educational program in the context of the COVID pandemic.

This plan is designed to mitigate but not eliminate risk to our students and staff. As it has been made clear to us by our partners from the public health and medical fields, no single or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Instead, our plan layers increased cleaning, physical distancing and hygiene practices on campus with options for families. Those whose family health circumstances makes Online Instruction the right choice, are provided that choice. 

We ask that after reviewing the plan, families complete this year’s Annual Information Update before July 24. While completing your Information Update, you will be asked to designate in which of the models you would like your child enrolled. 

Thank you to the team members who have worked tirelessly in developing our 2020-21 Return to School Plan, and to the members of our local medical community who provided guidance in these efforts. As a team, we are committed through our actions and decisions to validate the trust and confidence our families and staff have placed in us to serve our students.
Eimear O’Farrell, Ed.D
CUSD Superintendent 

Plan Development

70% of Teachers & Parents Consistently Favor Traditional Schedule, About 30% of Families & Teachers Want Full Online, If a Traditional Model is not Available, 77.2% of Families Preferred a Hybrid option and 22.8% Online

Feedback from families, staff an important part of decision-making

Clovis Unified’s return to campus plans have been heavily influenced by feedback from our parents, staff and students.  Throughout the months of May, June and July, surveys, online feedback collection, virtual town hall meetings, and small group discussions have given us insight into the needs and priorities of our community.
A common theme is clear: our staff and families want students back in school as soon as possible. About 70% of respondents to staff and parent surveys have indicated a desire to return to a traditional model of five-day a week instruction, with additional disinfecting and health practices implemented.  At the same time, a significant percentage have also expressed a desire for a full online experience, with about 30% of our populations consistently indicating they want a full online experience for the opening of school.
Two options have been created for families to choose from:
Option A: A traditional schedule in which students are on campus five days a week with additional disinfecting and health protocols.
Option B: A full online instructional environment in which teachers teach from their classrooms and students engage remotely from home.
Options would adjust according to mandates and changing conditions. We are committed to continuing to deliver regular communication through our websites, apps, social media channels, and emails.  

The Team

Since June, a team of dozens of employees have been hard at work preparing for our return to school this August. This team has worked to create a plan that: 
•       Provides our community with diverse learning options to meet multiple needs
•       Maximizes opportunities for physical distancing in the classroom and during the school day
•       Incorporates the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other guidance of state and local health officials
•       Increases sanitizing and disinfecting practices
•       Promotes effective handwashing and cough/hand hygiene 
•       Adjusts and responds to changing health conditions in our community
•      Closely studied health and safety guidance from numerous sources 
•      Sought and analyzed feedback from parents, students and staff 
•      Remained attuned to the current status of COVID cases in our region 
•      Researched and developed instructional models that maintain quality of learning whether in-person, online, or some combination of each  
•      Developed health and safety plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Our Guiding Principles

Every decision made in the development of our 2020-21 Return to School Health and Safety Plan was aligned to our guiding principles:
•      Educational Value of High-Quality Instruction Delivered in an Optimal Learning Environment
•      Commitment to Safety and Wellness of Students, Staff and the Community
•      Maximize Achievement for ALL Students in Mind, Body and Spirit
Important Dates found below
As we prepare to launch the new school year, our educational team has prepared plans that can pivot between at-school and at-home learning options based on current COVID conditions and local health orders. 
July 16: Return to Campus Plan shared
July 17: Annual Information Update & selection of Instructional Model by families
July 22: Virtual town hall for families delivered  through the Clovis Unified YouTube Channel
July 31: Deadline for selection of Instruction Model by families
Aug. 10: Return to Campus Update of Fresno County  conditions
Aug. 17: First day of school for all students
Sept 25: End of initial six-week instructional period 

California COVID-19 Resources


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Will school start on time?
A. Yes, school will start as scheduled on August 17.

Q. What happens if mandates are changed again between now and August 17?  
A. With statewide and local requirements changing regularly to adapt to COVID conditions, all of our plans are designed to adjust as needed.  We commit to updating families as quickly as possible as we learn of changes that impact Clovis Unified.  Often, we learn of actions out of Sacramento simultaneously to their public release, but even in those instances will seek to get updates to our employees and families within 24 hours of new information/requirements being announced by health or government officials.

Q. How quickly could on-site instruction start once we are off the Watch List?
A. We anticipate at minimum a 1- to 2-week transition period from online learning to on-site learning once current restrictions are lifted to allow time for families and staff to prepare accordingly. Parents and staff will be resurveyed about learning preferences under the conditions at that time, and master schedules and staffing changes can take place as needed. The timing of such changes will seek to minimize the impact on families of sudden changes.
Q. When might we be able to come back to an in-person instructional model?
A. The required thresholds for all counties are listed on the California Department of Public Health website on the COVID-19 County Data Monitoring page.

Clovis Unified School District: Be the best you can be in mind, body, and spirit

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