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Flexible Learning Program

Flexible learning program faqs

 

 

 

At its public meeting on June 23, 2020, the Alameda Unified School District voted on the parameters for what instruction will look like for AUSD students in the 2020-21 school year. 

We know our families, students, and staff have many questions about the goals and logistics of these programs. We have tried to answer as many questions as we can here, but will be adding to this FAQ frequently throughout the summer. 

 

LEARNING PROGRAMS

 

What are the two options for school in 2020-21? 

Families have a choice between a Flexible Learning Program and a Remote Learning Program. The Flexible Learning Program will entail half-day, on-campus, in-person instruction and asynchronous (at home) self-paced learning for the other half of the day. (This option will be available only if health officials allow students to be on campus.) The Remote Learning Program will be an entirely on-line program with which students will engage from home. (A separate FAQ on the Remote Learning Program is available here.)

 

What is the elementary school schedule for the Flexible Learning Program?

Under the approved schedule, small groups (maximum of 12) of elementary school students will be assigned to attend school in either the morning or afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesdays, students will do “asynchronous” (independent) work, while teachers prepare their lessons and collaborate and custodians clean the campuses.

 

What are the middle and high school schedules in the Flexible Learning Schedule?

Small groups of middle (maximum size of 17) and high school students (maximum size of 18) likewise will be assigned to attend school in either the morning or afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesdays, students will do “asynchronous” (independent) work, while teachers prepare their lessons and collaborate and custodians clean the campuses. Students will take three classes per 18-week semester, so that by the end of the school year they will have completed six courses. 

 

Why can’t our students go back to school full time? 

Currently we don’t believe AUSD students can return to our campuses full-time because of state and county health officials’ orders and guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it would be nearly impossible for us to have all of our students on campus at the same time and still maintain the social distancing and appropriate cleaning schedules recommended by the state.

 

If there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, will AUSD go fully remote?

Yes. We are designing the Flexible Learning Program to enable us to convert to a a distance learning program if COVID-19 cases spike, and we are ordered or advised to suspend all in-class instruction.  

 

I have two children enrolled in AUSD. Can they be put on the same schedule?

The scheduling of classes for next year is going to be quite complex, and we do need to create classes that balance many different factors. We will do our best to accommodate these parent requests, but cannot yet guarantee that we’ll be able to keep siblings in all families on the same schedule. We will send a form about this to families in mid-July. This same form will let you ask to have your student in a certain “pod” or group, for afterschool considerations.

 

Students in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten already attend school for half days. What will their schedule be in the Flexible Learning Program? 

Students in TK and kindergarten will follow the same in-person  schedule that students in grades 1-5 do.  Asynchronous learning time (not in person with the teacher, but at home learning) will depend on development level and screen time recommendations by the World Health Organization.

 

Students in high school take some one-semester (half year) courses, such as Current Life and Economics. How long will those classes be now?

Those classes will now be one quarter instead of one semester.

 

If there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, will AUSD go fully remote?

Yes. We are designing the Flexible Learning Program to enable us to convert to a a distance learning program if COVID-19 cases spike, and we are ordered or advised to suspend all in-class instruction. This program would not be exactly the same as the formal Remote Learning Program, however.

 

If the public health situation improves, will AUSD go back to the traditional, fully in-person model?

We’re currently developing a tiered transition model for how we would move back to full-day, in-person instruction if health officials allow that. This would not be an overnight return, but yes, we are drafting plans for how that would work. We expect, at this time, that we would bring our elementary school students back full-time before middle and high school students.

 

How will grading work? Will it be Pass/Fail again for secondary students or will students receive letter grades?

We haven’t worked out those details yet. But we do plan to grade student work and use regular assessments to track student progress and determine student need. 

 

July 10 Additions

How do we indicate which program we prefer for our student(s)?

Families were sent a letter describing the  programs, with a link to the registration form, on June 26. The deadline for selecting a program was July 5.  Notifications about the Remote Learning Program were sent to families on July 9 and July 10. Families who registered for the remote program between June 29 and July 5 have until July 19 to decide if they truly want their student to be enrolled in that program and submit a confirmation form.

 

Please note: Families who did not submit an Instructional Program Choice form will be automatically enrolled in our Flexible Learning Program.

 

Will the calendar for  2020-21 school year change?

Last month, the  AUSD and Alameda Education Association (AEA) negotiating teams came to a tentative agreement on a revised  calendar for the 2020-21 school year to provide more time to prepare for next year and more time for instruction. The primary adjustments are to:

 

  • The first day of school (August 27 rather than the previously scheduled August 17) 
  • The last day of school (June 17 rather than the previously scheduled June 9)

  • Existing professional development days (they are now concentrated at the start of the school year to better prepare our educators for the changes in teaching and learning that we are anticipating for the next school year).

The AEA ratified this revised calendar last week. The calendar will not be final until the Board of Education votes on it at its July 17 Board of Education meeting.

 

When will we know daily schedule for the Flexible Learning Program?

We are currently negotiating the schedule with our labor partners, the Alameda Education Association. Our hope is to come to agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding by the end of July. We will send out information about the schedules as soon as that agreement is approved by both the AEA and the Board of Education. 

 

When we will know if our students are in the A group or B group? 

We expect to send notifications out by mid-August.

 

What types of childcare are being planned for next year?

We understand that our working families need to know who will take care of their children when they are not in class next year and how and why that care will be provided. We have convened a working group that includes community partners who have provided afterschool care in the past. These organizations cannot yet provide details on the schedule or location of their programs because we are still working out our school schedules, as well as how many classrooms we will need to provide adequate social distancing and cleaning for students and staff. Our intention is to get this information to childcare providers as quickly as we can, so that they, in turn, can develop their programs and families can start planning for next year. 

 

Please note: Under the Alameda County Department of Public Health’s current orders, students can be in two, three-week long social “bubbles” or groups. One of those bubbles is school. The other bubble could be a childcare program, a club, or another extracurricular activity. As such, under the current orders, students in childcare programs will not be able to engage in other in-person activities. Health orders and guidelines are continually changing during this time, but we want to be sure all families understand what the current orders are.

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

 

What will the health and safety protocols be for students enrolled in the Flexible Learning Program? 

AUSD is currently exploring what will be most effective for handwashing, sanitizing, maintaining social distance, and mask wearing for our in-person classes. We will send out more details on this topic later this summer. 

 

I am worried that students in the afternoon group will be exposed to more germs than students in the morning group.

Our custodial staffing is being shifted so that we can do more work mid-day. This means our intensive cleaning will be spread across the day instead of occurring primarily in the evening. 

 

Will you teach the children how to follow these health protocols?

Yes. This summer we will be creating posters and materials for teachers so that when students return to campus in August they can easily learn what the expectations will be for following health protocols.

 

What will you do if a student or teacher tests positive?

We are working with the Alameda County Department of Public Health to develop protocols and procedures for responding to positive cases of COVID-19.

 

July 10 Additions

 

What cleaning products will AUSD use in the schools? 

We expect to post a list  of the products and the technical “Safety Data Sheets” that manufacturers provide with such products next week. We can say, for now, however, that we will be using:

 

  • Bioesque Botanical Disinfectant Solution in our spray bottles and electrostatic sprayers. Bioesque is a botanically derived solution with a grapefruit and lemongrass scent. The solution is registered with EPA as a category IV toxic product, meaning that no precautionary statements or first-aid statements are required on the product label. It is considered safe enough to use on surfaces used for food preparation and also safe enough to use without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

  • A generic hand sanitizer sold by Home Depot Pro. This non-gel sanitizer contains 70% ethyl alcohol and .1% aloe. The alcohol odor dissipates as the alcohol evaporates.

Researchers are now saying that particles of the COVID-19 virus remain airborne indoors. What will AUSD do to mitigate that risk?

AUSD is following the discussions about airborne transmission closely and will continue to do so. Our understanding is that the highest risk appears to be in crowded indoor spaces that have poor ventilation. As such, while they are not disinfecting measures, we believe that three of our strategies - requiring masks, reducing the number of people in our classrooms and buildings, and maintaining stable cohorts (or “social bubbles”) -- will help to mitigate the risk of airborne transmission. In addition, we are exploring the possibility of holding classes outdoors, keeping doors and windows open where possible, and finding other ways to improve ventilation.

At the current time, we do not believe that installing powerful air filters or virus-killing ultraviolet lights in our 500-plus classrooms - as some are recommending - are viable strategies, because there is neither the time nor the sufficient funding to do this work before our schools open in August.

 

Do you have more details on how school lunches will be provided?

Our current thinking is that the morning (“A”) group of students will pick up and take their lunches to go after their in-school instruction ends. The afternoon (“B”) group will pick up their lunches and eat them in a designated area before their in-class instruction begins.

 

ENRICHMENT AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

 

Will students have access to Visual and Performing Arts classes? 

We are trying to make that possible. We are convening Working Groups this week to look into how best to provide instruction in a number of different subject areas in the Flexible Learning Program. We are also researching curricula for the Remote Learning Program that includes units on the arts. 

 

Will students take PE?

We are still researching whether our PE instructors can offer effective PE classes in 2020-21.

 

July 10 Additions

 

What is happening with high school athletics? 

AUSD understands the importance of high school athletics and greatly values the role of sports in our student-athletes’ lives. We are currently waiting for the California Interscholastic Federation to make a decision on fall sports. That decision is expected on July 20. For more details, please see this letter about athletics that we sent to all middle and high school students on July 7.

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION

What will the schedule be for students who receive special education services?

Students in our mild to moderate classes will be on the same schedule as general education students. We are still developing the schedule for our moderate to severe classes. Strategic Academic instruction for students in the general education schedule will be delivered through a co teaching model as well as during small group time after or before the general class time.  At the secondary level the academic strategies class will not be offered as a class since we will be on a semester schedule. Academic strategies will either be held before or after the traditional classes throughout the entire year.  We expect to provide FAQs for families in our special education programs in the next week or two.