besd

BRAWLEY — The Brawley Elementary School District Board is preparing for the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 academic year and discussed some of the changes on the horizon at the board meeting Tuesday, June 11.

BESD already sent out a survey with the last homework packets at the end of May. The survey results showed parents are in favor of a blended learning model that would include distance and on-campus learning.

The Imperial County Office of Education released guidelines last week for Imperial Valley schools to follow when considering reopening for the upcoming school year. These include guides on how to hold physical classes versus online distance learning, thorough sanitation of campus and classrooms, how to best prepare and protect students and staff, and more to get all schools up and running smoothly.

ICOE’s guidelines state the reopening of schools will be based upon the ability to case finding, contract tracing, isolation, and quarantine, the availability of testing, availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), availability of cleaning supplies, duration of decline or stability of positive COVID-19 cases, and the surge capacity of local hospitals.

Local schools will open following the guidelines at their own pace. ICOE will be collaborating with local officials to ensure Valley schools are able to reopen safely.

BESD Superintendent Dr. Richard Rundhaug said the district has been working to create a system where several tracks, including on campus and distance learning, could work for students. He said the district has already begun assigning groups to fulfill each of the ICOE guidelines.

Rundhaug read the current proposals and ideas to the BESD board.

At the elementary schools, there is a proposed blended learning model that would have students arriving from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on alternating days. Rundhaug called it the kindergarten model. Fridays would be reserved for online learning only.

Barbara Worth Jr. High instruction would likely only be done through online learning; however, it has not been confirmed. Rundhaug said Principal Kelly Marmalejo is still working on a plan for student learning with her staff.

Rundhaug said the district believes a third of the students per school will stay home no matter what. The remaining students will have to be split into the classrooms to ensure social distancing.

All the tracks must be flexible, according to Rundhaug. If a student or the parents want to come back to the campus, they need to be able to do so without worry of interrupting their learning. Rundhaug said there was a proposal to give parents an option to change a student from distance learning to on-campus learning every grading period. However, the district’s normal use of the trimester system would have to be changed in order to make it fair for families.

Rundhaug said the district will work with the Brawley Elementary Teachers Association (BETA) to develop teaching plans. He added it was also important that the teachers don’t feel the district is giving them extra work during the rearranging of classrooms.

If the health situation were to deteriorate and backtrack to previous levels, then the schools would need to have all students return to distance learning. On the flip side, there also needs to be a plan for when a vaccine is released, and students are ready to return to campus.

Students will not be able to eat on campus in order to follow social distancing guidelines. Rundhaug proposed the students who come in the morning with the half-day model would get their lunch as they leave.

Rundhaug said the district plan is a work in progress and will likely change as the school year draws near.

The full ICOE plan for reopening and the guidelines can be found at https://www.icoe.org/news/icoe-releases-pathway-reopening-our-schools-covid-19-recovery-guidance.

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