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Looking Ahead to What May Come
Looking Ahead to What May Come
Darren Hanna
Thursday, September 03, 2020

Looking Ahead to What May Come

9/3/2020

Dear ECSD parents, staff and community members:

Since March, we have lived by the old saying “Hope for the best and plan for the worst!”  With our hopes high we brought our staff and students back.  To be clear, it was different, but it was also exciting.  It felt good to see the staff back in their element working with students.  It was amazing to see the smiles on the faces of students as they got to reconnect with their teachers and friends.  I was so inspired by the way the staff and students learned and adapted over the first few days.  

The Superintendent in me now turns to looking ahead to what may come, and hoping for the best and planning for the worst.  In my last communication I said that we had two overarching goals:

  • Do everything possible to keep our kids in school

  • Do everything possible for our kids to play and compete

Last week many school districts reopened.  Some districts have already experienced positive cases of COVID-19 and are already being faced with what to do next.  ECSD is one of those districts.  If our number one goal is to keep as many kids in school everyday as possible, we may be called upon to implement the next layer of mitigation protocol available to us.  Our next tool in the toolbox would be to require students wear masks while in school.  

We know that the wearing of masks or face coverings reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  It is our belief that if necessary, this step may keep more kids in school than proceeding without it.  It is crucial that we are all prepared should that day come.  

If we had a positive case of COVID-19 with a staff member or student who had been in school within 48 hours of the positive test, we would implement the following protocol

Beginning Tuesday September 8, 2020

If the case was a the Middle School/High School 

  • In collaboration with Palo Alto Community Health, contract tracing would be conducted.  All students and staff who had been determined to be in Close Contact (within 6 feet for 15 continuous minutes)  Would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days.  

  • The remaining students would continue with in-person learning.  However, masks or face coverings would be required for students.  Many students already have masks/face coverings and have been wearing them in school.  We have purchased a cloth mask for every student in grades 3-12 and would have them available for students.  In addition, we have purchased an E-Hawk face mask for every student in grades 3-12.  This would provide two masks for each student.  We have also ordered a number of student sized face shields for those students who struggle with a mask but could wear a face shield.  

  • Students with medical conditions that make it unsafe to wear a mask or face coverings would be exempt from the requirement.  We will require a note from their medical provider to receive an exemption.  If your student has such a condition, please get us that note as soon as possible.  This will make sure we are all on the same page should we need to implement the student mask requirement.  

If the case was at West Elementary Grades 3-4

  • In collaboration with Palo Alto Community Health, contract tracing would be conducted.  All students and staff who had been determined to be in Close Contact (within 6 feet for 15 continuous minutes)  Would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days.  

  • The remaining students would continue with in-person learning.  However, masks or face coverings would be required for students.  Many students already have masks/face coverings and have been wearing them in school.  We have purchased a cloth mask for every student in grades 3-12 and would have them available for students.  In addition, we have purchased an E-Hawk face mask for every student in grades 3-12.  This would provide two masks for each student.  We have also ordered a number of student sized face shields for those students who struggle with a mask but could wear a face shield.  

  • Students with medical conditions that make it unsafe to wear a mask or face coverings would be exempt from the requirement.  We will require a note from their medical provider to receive an exemption.  If your student has such a condition, please get us that note as soon as possible.  This will make sure we are all on the same page should we need to implement the student mask requirement. 

If the case was at West Elementary Grades PK-2

  • Students in the same classroom as the positive case would begin remote learning for a period of 14 days.  

  • Students in the remaining grades PK-2 would continue to learn in person.  

  • We will use this approach to attempt to stop the transmission of the virus.  we do not feel we can effectively implement a mask requirement with this age of younger students.  

Next Level of Mitigation Protocol  If Positivity Rate raises above 10% for a three day average.  

If after the implementation of the protocols above we are still experiencing an increase in virus activity, ECSD will add an additional layer of mitigation protocol.  We will implement an A/B School Week by Family.  This will allow for approximately ½ of the students to attend school on any given school day.  Students from the same family would attend school two days a week on either an A Day or a B Day.  One possible scenario would be:

  • A Day--Monday and Thursday

  • B Day--Tuesday and Friday

  • Wednesdays would be used for:

    • A.M.  Open class periods for any student(s) to work with teachers via Google Meet.  

    • P.M. Staff PD and support for online learning.    

The reduction in student numbers in the building will allow us to provide social distancing throughout the day. Face Masks would still be required.  

Final Level of Mitigation Protocol if the fourteen day positivity rate in Palo Alto County exceeds 15%.

The final protocol is the one we all hope to avoid.  This protocol would be requested when virus activity is still increasing even with all of the other protocols.  The Department of Education will allow ECSD to petition to close a building or the District if the fourteen day average positivity rate in Palo Alto County exceeds 15%.

Masks/Face Coverings

Mask/Face Coverings are our next level of mitigation protocol and we are asking all families to be prepared.  We are recommending that all students grades 3-12 begin wearing a mask/face covering in school immediately.  

We will notify parents should we need to require students via email and text.  Please keep the following in mind:

  • Check to make sure the email addresses and phone numbers you have provided us are up to date and accurate.

  • If you child has a medical condition that would prevent them from wearing  a mask/face covering, please get us a medical provider’s note to avoid issues should we need to require masks/face coverings for students in grades 3-12.

  • The school will provide a mask to each student grades 3-12.  We would recommend that if you have not purchased additional masks or you prefer to provide your own mask that you do so now.   

We realize that all of this is very confusing and stressful.  We committed early on that we would take a layered approach to mitigation protocol.  It is our great hope that we can keep school open and students can continue to learn and participate in the activities they love.  

Sincerely,

Darren D. Hanna

Superintendent