5/12/2021 - Families for Santa Cruz County Schools signs letter to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond (and other state officials) to advocate for full reopening in the fall for all California schools.
4/8/2021 - Families for Santa Cruz County Schools is in the local news again. Read the Lookout article here.
4/6/2021 - SCCS district hosts an informative family webinar with pediatricians Nicole Marsico and Jackie Busse. Watch the recording here.
4/2/2021 - Scotts Valley Unified School District announces full time reopening for elementary, middle and high schools.
3/30/2021 - Soquel Union Elementary School District announces full time reopening for their elementary and middle schools.
3/22/2021 - Santa Cruz City School District announces full time reopening for their elementary schools. Middle and high schools will reopen fully in the fall.
3/16/2021 - Families for Santa Cruz County Schools is in the local news. Read the Lookout article here.
3/12/2021 - SCCS Superintendent Munro’s written response to our Request for Re-opening Report and Increasing Parent Involvement:
Dear Families for Santa Cruz County Schools,
Thank you for your letter of support for a full five-day a week reopening of schools. I recognize the hardship that families have faced over the last year, and I am as anxious as you are to bring a return to normalcy for our children and our community.
Both as a parent and as a Superintendent, I share your concerns regarding the effects of this year of prolonged distance, and agree the best environment for learning is created when we’re all able to be together.
I have also heard clearly that we need to better communicate and engage families as we prepare for the 2021-22 school year. To that end, we will begin bi-monthly webinars to present updates and take questions and input from families, and we will also begin a weekly update on our website with details that are being worked on each week as we move through the spring and summer. I know we all understand how quickly the requirements, guidelines and rules are changing around us, and I want to be sure to provide up-to-date information to put us all on the same page.
I look forward to engaging with you more directly at our next webinar on March 16, but I also wanted to be sure to address directly some of the specific points you took the time to lay out in your letter.
First, I wanted to address your questions about reopening readiness and CDPH distancing guidelines. As you pointed out, schools currently are supposed to make every effort to uphold the six feet of distance. I do anticipate that this requirement will change. On Wednesday, the Governor announced that the state was developing a “Green” tier with new regulations and yesterday, County Health announced that they are optimistic that the county will move to the Orange tier in the next three weeks and would likely quickly progress to Yellow.
I appreciate your concern that the State and the County may tend to rely on an abundance of caution, but I would also point out this guidance has regularly changed as new information becomes available to public health. And at this time, I would expect that we will have new guidance in the coming weeks.
In preparation for potential changes, we have measured our classrooms for capacity at different spacing requirements and are looking at how we can use space on our campuses to adjust to a potential reduction in the level of restrictions. In this, it seems, we had the same thought. And I wanted to assure you we are currently building contingencies so as to be ready to respond to CDPH repositioning as it comes.
Like you, our goal is the full reopening of Santa Cruz City Schools. And I will say that at this time, it is my expectation that a full time reopening is the most likely scenario for the new school year. As to your question about what may hinder or hasten a full reopening, the only thing that I can potentially see hindering this is evidence that one of the variants of the virus is significantly resistant to the vaccine. At this time, there is no evidence of that. We are hopeful that, assuming all adults will have access to the vaccine by May per President Biden’s timeline, our state will modify restrictions soon and allow us to look to August with more certainty.
As you pointed out, we have received both state and federal resources to support distance learning, learning loss and in-person instruction. We will also soon be applying for all newly available federal and state resources. Our first rounds of funding this year are accounted for in our Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan. This plan was developed in the fall with input from all stakeholders -- families, students, and staff. We applied for the ESSER 2 federal stimulus resources last week on the first day that the application was available. We will also be eligible for the full funding of the new SB86 state resources and information on how to access these funds is supposed to be available by next Friday. In addition, the newest federal stimulus will provide even more resources to support our students.
On April 21, the Board of Trustees will hold a study session to review all of our COVID resources and discuss our planning process as we head into the new school year. We will also be reconvening an expanded Reopening Committee in April, and reach out to the community for more parent involvement, to provide input on plans for the 2021-22 school year and on how to best utilize our resources to support students.
Your letter also asked questions about childcare and recreation opportunities. We have been made very clearly aware that none of these funds can be used for childcare or recreation. As much as we would love to be able to support our community in this way, it is not something we could financially or logistically accommodate. However, they can be used for additional staff, mental health, special education, a distance learning option and family support services. In addition, I am working with CKC on a plan to have them return to our campuses as childcare providers in the new school year.
I wanted to close by assuring you, I have carefully read your concerns. I have listened to parent testimony at our Trustee meetings. I have been in regular contact with families all over our district throughout this historically trying time. No one has found it easy. And at every stage, we have all wished there was more we could do to help each other.
As a mom and as superintendent, I understand first hand the challenges that working parents have faced as we navigate overseeing our children’s education and taking care of other family members through the pandemic. Please know that we share your focus and goal that all of our students, whether they are just learning to read or studying for their AP tests, will have the option to return to school in August, full-time. It is also our goal to provide a distance learning option for families who need it, which I mention also as a reminder that there is no single consensus amongst our families about what is safe, what is most important, and what our path through this time must be. At every point in this pandemic we have had to remember that as well as providing leadership, it is the responsibility of the district to provide options that do not force one point of view on all. I will also be providing much of this information in my expanding in-person report at the next Board meeting. I am grateful to you all for your commitment and collaboration to support this shared effort.