Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning title=
Dr. Susan Salcido, County Superintendent of Schools, speaking during a COVID-19 press conference
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By Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendents of Schools

Thousands of students in Santa Barbara County have not been on a campus since March 2020, and too many families are weary with concern for their children’s well-being.  All youth deserve equitable opportunities to thrive; they need routines that involve peers, interaction, play, and belonging. They need their talented teachers to foster those in-class relationships that bring joy, inspiration, and motivation for students and teachers alike.  Online learning, which has proven to be successful for many, does not fulfill our collective mission to guarantee equity and access for all.

The path to reopening schools for in-person instruction has been steeped in the most dynamic challenges imaginable.  Despite the hurdles, many smaller schools and districts in Santa Barbara County reopened in-person instruction as early as last fall.  Smaller should not be confused with simple, as these school teams worked tirelessly to address innumerable details and implement all safety practices and protocols in order to reopen and remain open.  However, reopening a school for 100 students is considerably different than reopening a district with 20 schools of more than 16,000 students.  The larger the schools and districts, the more time, staff, and financial resources are needed to meet the requirements necessary to reopen.

Several school districts in Santa Barbara County are ready to open now, or as soon as they get permission to do so.  Others are pursuing additional state or federal funding to secure required resources for reopening and/or are awaiting improved local health and safety data to reflect their community’s readiness for reopening.

Many community members have asked about the state of reopening schools in Santa Barbara County.  The information below is intended to provide up-to-date information about state and county-level processes and decisions that impact local schools and their reopening efforts.  Opening timelines and school schedules are determined locally, with each district, charter school, and private school communicating directly with their staff and families. 

What role does the Santa Barbara County Education Office/Office of the County Superintendent of Schools (SBCEO) play in approving districts and schools to reopen for in-person instruction?

SBCEO is in constant, daily contact with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD), works closely with the public districts and charter schools, and frequently communicates with private schools, childcare and early learning networks, and school nurses and health staff.   SBCEO has continuously advocated on behalf of all Santa Barbara County schools, actively urging state and local legislators to provide equitable, realistic paths forward and provide vaccines for education and childcare employees to support safe school environments.

SBCEO has the authority to reopen only the schools and programs we directly operate, including court and community schools, special education programs, and preschools.  We do not have the authority to reopen districts, charter schools, or private schools within Santa Barbara County.

What will it mean for elementary schools when case rates in Santa Barbara County decrease to a rate of 25 per 100,000?

As of February 16, 2021, Santa Barbara County was in the purple tier with an adjusted case rate of 27 per 100,000, down from 36 per 100,000 from the week prior, and a test positivity rate of 8.2%, down from 10.2%.  SBCPHD officials are optimistic that we will drop below 25 soon.

According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), once Santa Barbara County reaches an adjusted case rate of 25 or less per 100,000 for five consecutive days, elementary schools may reopen with the approval of their local district, charter school, or private school board, and after SBCPHD approves their required school safety plan.

At this time, SBCPHD is proactively collaborating with districts and schools that have submitted school safety plans to ensure they are ready and approved as soon as possible.

Districts not yet open, with approved safety plans on file with SBCPHD, are Buellton Union School District, Goleta Union School District, Lompoc Unified School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Orcutt Union School District, and Vista Del Mar Union School District.  Adelante Charter School and Cuyama Joint Unified School District are working closely with SBCPHD on their plans and are awaiting final approval.

When can middle schools, junior highs, and high schools reopen for in-person instruction in Santa Barbara County?

According to CDPH, schools serving 7-12 grades are required to wait until the county is in the red tier for five days. 

Any school that reopened to in-person instruction in the fall may remain open.  And all schools, TK-12, may serve small group of students (e.g., special education supports, athletic cohorts).

Can a district, charter school, or private school apply to open right now?

Last week, CDPH created a “Safety Review Process” to create very specific circumstances under which districts could request approval to open now, even with an adjusted case rate higher than 25.  The Safety Review Process information continues to emerge, and it is not yet clear if any districts in Santa Barbara County qualify in these limited categories.  CDPH will approve or deny requests sent in through this process.

Additionally, the SBCPHD and Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) sent a joint letter to the state, urging CDPH to permit SBUSD to open its elementary schools immediately.  This is an independent process, separate from the Safety Review Process noted above.  SBCPHD and additional local districts, including Goleta Union School District, are working together to request CDPH allow their districts to reopen through this joint process.   SBCPHS and districts await responses from CDPH.

When will vaccines be available for education and childcare staff in Santa Barbara County?

SBCPHD announced that individuals 65 and older are now able to receive vaccines in Santa Barbara County.  Education and childcare employees, along with other sectors in the same tier, will follow once more vaccines become available. 

Prioritizing and protecting individuals 65 and older, who are most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19, is critical.  However, there must be a way to begin providing vaccines for education and childcare employees now, as these are the very people we are asking to serve in the schools we seek to reopen and remain open.

At the very least, let’s begin the process of providing vaccines to education and childcare staff who serve groups of youth in person now.  This includes special education teachers and staff who serve medically fragile students, custodial staff who clean and disinfect populated areas throughout our open schools, food service staff who make and serve thousands of breakfasts and lunches, and bus drivers who drive groups of students multiple times each day.  As the Centers for Disease Control emphasized in their report published days ago: we all must do what we can to support schools so they can open and remain open. 

While working to support Santa Barbara County schools, I envision individuals from all corners of our county including parents, grandparents, students, and teachers who have written, called, emailed, and texted to share individual concerns and circumstances since March 2020.  As County Superintendent of Schools, I am also the mom of two children attending public schools still in distance learning and am married to an educator who is teaching online until school reopens to in-person instruction.  Every action and decision impacts real people and lives of those we know and love.  As we all move forward together, our team at SBCEO and I are fully invested and committed to supporting and advocating for all our county’s children, students, families, educators, and school staff as schools reopen and stay open to the fullest and safest extent possible.

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LooseCannon Feb 18, 2021 06:06 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

I am the parent of a child in the Goleta school system and I am outraged at the endless delays and obfuscations regarding the opening of school. My daughter hasn't been in school for a year. She left Mountain View and had one semester of in-school instruction at Goleta Valley Middle School. She is scheduled to start at Dos Pueblos High School in the fall.

She is doing well academically, but one semester at middle school is not much of a cushion for kids who should be having a more prolonged Middle School experience. I am very unhappy that she and her peers, especially her female peers, will be going into high school, where they will be preyed upon by older boys, without sufficient socialization, total lack of middle school experience.

Fauci has been saying that in-school instruction should be happening for quite a while. Yet the teachers, or a powerful minority of them represented by the union, refuse to go back to the classroom, despite the fact that epidemiological studies show that schools are not a significant source of transmission of COVID. The teachers and the union representing them are ignoring Science.

I am disgusted by the failure of the schools to educate our children, our future, their total abdication of responsibility. I have stopped reading the daily propaganda from the Supervisor and the Principal of GV, and ParentSquare.

If you're a teacher, or someone working in the public education system, you can bet that many parents will be pissed off at the teachers' unions for YEARS TO COME. Don't come crying to us about your salaries, benefits, etc., in the future. Your demands will fall on deaf ears.

DO YOUR JOBS. WE NEED IN-PERSON CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION NOW. Not a month from now. Not in the fall.

NOW.

GeneralTree Feb 19, 2021 10:04 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Settle down - not many people reading threads like these. Maybe try and get Palmenteri to interview or write a letter to the editor to the LA times to get more visibility. And btw - you aren't the only person with problems during the pandemic so not sure how much traffic your ramblings will get you.

SBLetsGetAlong Feb 18, 2021 08:08 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Totally agree!
July, CDC stated the importance of in class education to health & safety of children
Recently the CDC stated teachers do not need a vaccination.

Yet no teachers. Despite no scientific evidence supporting the closures.

Now teachers were demanding vaccinations before they’d return to work.

Guess the Trader Joe’s guy didn’t have that option, to stay home and zoom the hundreds of random customers touching everything they touched! Or the essential liquor store! Sales spiked during Covid. Guess people aren’t too afraid to go down snd buy a bottle or Tri in person in public!

Or that elderly gentleman who was deathly afraid of Covid, yet he was standing in a group of about 12 random people waiting for his charburger. He said delivery was too slow.
Guess starvation was a more real threat to him!

Who’s got the over under for a Feb 26, Full reopen, 5 days a week School?

I know where my $ is.

sacjon Feb 19, 2021 09:43 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

SBGETS - GUSD just came out last night and said March 8 is the new "target" date, after the state gave its approval on the 16th. So, that whole 10 days thing was a full on lie. Pretty pissed about that, but glad they're at least doing something finally!

SBLetsGetAlong Feb 19, 2021 04:33 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Yet another date and another disappointment.
The sad part is these people are teaching our children bad work ethics and to be afraid despite the CDC & WHO stating the importance of in school learning fir children’s health & safety and there is zero evidence suggesting schools are breeding grounds for Covid.
Last Spring Europeans had schools open with plenty of research snd feedback shoeing k-6 children actually act like a firebreak and don’t readily transmit Covid amongst classmates, teachers or family at home.

But the Teachers Union, school boards and Newsom apparently don’t care about the CDC & WHO or the children.

Can we fire any teacher refusing to go back to work without a valid Mech SL leave of absence?
CDC stated hi back to work they don’t need a vaccine.

Wish I had this kind of job security.

Snd yes the treachery union is representing the minority.
Sad part is this country is run by a minority and not the majority.
No that is not skin color related don’t try to turn it into that. Find a new mantra.

sblocal1967 Feb 19, 2021 08:21 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Teachers should be demanding that schools allow them to go back and do in person learning. Why is their no outrage from them. They chose a profession to educate kids and are not being allowed to do their job effectively. Is there not one single teacher who will speak out against this travesty.

Voice of Reason Feb 19, 2021 12:00 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Not sure how I missed that article Duke but WOW! Spot on and exactly what I've been harping since last summer (in a much more eloquent way than my comments here). "Progressive California" turns out to be dead last throughout the developed world in addressing our children's needs. And still we have schools boards in CA debating and spending money renaming schools named after US Presidents, which the boards and teachers were more than happy to take their birthdays off work, than getting our kids back in the classroom. When will people wake up and pull the wool from over their eyes?

Voice of Reason Feb 19, 2021 12:08 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Thank you Gavin Newsom! #recallnewsom

... these findings suggest that the decision to close U.S. public primary schools in the early months of 2020 may very well be associated with a decrease in life expectancy for American children that is greater than any loss of life the coronavirus pandemic might have brought.

We must stop lying to ourselves and to our children. Elementary schools remain closed because adults couldn’t pull it together. Classrooms are not closed to protect children. They are closed because of a faulty thought process that promoted the idea that “closed elementary schools will protect the community” — a thought process, by the way, that is not supported by current Science.

bosco Feb 19, 2021 01:45 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Great article Duke. Thanks for posting. Every teacher should read this message and realize it's one of their peers. I have spoke with many teachers that believe the same thing. Unfortunately, most don't want to speak up.
Posting again for more visibility.
https://www.noozhawk.com/article/suzanne_nicastro_time_to_tell_truth_about_public_school_closures_20210216

a-1613756204 Feb 19, 2021 09:36 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Teachers and their support staff should have whatever *THEY feel they need* in order to do their jobs safely during these terrifying times. If that means COVID_19 vaccine for all regardless of age, then this must be made to happen.

The opportunities for asymptomatic disease transmission (airborne droplet, contaminated surfaces, unclean hands and a natural tendency to crowd and touch) may be much greater in children, particularly in young ones who lack the ability to follow infection control protocols.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03141-3

dukemunson Feb 19, 2021 09:52 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

I like the humor! “Teachers and support staff should have whatever THEY FEEL they need”... that’s great!! Not what logic, science or duty says they need... what THEY FEEL they need! The teachers union is once again proving/showing that they are actively working against our kids. The selfishness and hypocrisy is astounding!

Voice of Reason Feb 19, 2021 10:33 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

During these "terrifying times"? This? It goes to show how soft and truly privileged our society is if what we're going through is considered terrifying. There are real coup's going on in the world, there are people ruled by actual dictators, there are countries where you'll be sent to concentration (i.e. "re-education") camps if your criticize the government (or just disappear), places where there are no medical clinics let alone hospitals and vaccines, mass famine with starving children and no clean drinking water, poverty that would make the homeless in SB look like the Kardashians all going on in the world right now! We are so incredibly privileged and if what we're going through in Santa Barbara is terrifying you need to step back and get some real perspective.

Basicinfo805 Feb 19, 2021 02:14 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

09:36 that kind of attitude is why we're in this terrible situation. There's no "get whatever you want" just like there's no "100% gurarantee of safety" (@ you Pitmix and like believers) in ANY PART OF LIFE. The teachers union and local districts have blown it so hard. Only now when higher forces are torquing on them are they starting to acknowledge they have to budge. They haven't given a hoot about kids and parents thus far.

sacjon Feb 19, 2021 12:08 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Just one question for the teachers demanding vaccination: Why should you be all vaccinated BEFORE all the grocery store workers, food workers, and other people who are out there facing the public every day and have been without complaint for the past year? Any teachers want to take a crack at that?

SBLetsGetAlong Feb 19, 2021 04:41 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Teachers Union and SBUSD have refused to listen to the CDC & WHO way back in July.
I’m not surprised the SBUSD board follows the teachers union. After all the teachers union donated over $10,000 towards Capps campaign.

How much money had the union contributed towards reopening classrooms?
Lack of money is one excuse the SBUSD had used to not open.
How many other candidates and tens of thousands went to mailers a d supporting “their” candidate. When had the union supported schools?

Anyone want to answer they one?

dukemunson Feb 19, 2021 05:23 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Talked to someone at the GUSD off fr today and they sounded pretty confident and committed to starting K-6 March 8... so... almost there! Add in the time change (march 14) and March madness and there is a lot to look forward to coming up!!!!

a-1613795466 Feb 19, 2021 08:31 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

I’m thankful I have no school-age children. While I understand the teachers’ reluctance, I don’t believe their lives are more precious than the grocery clerks’ or bus drivers’. They may feel they are still doing their jobs, since they are doing the online teaching. But clearly that is inadequate. They should insist on greatly reduced class size, N95 masks and face shields, maybe some other mitigations. But to refuse to do any in-person teaching now that effective mitigations are possible, that pisses me off.

a-1613887379 Feb 20, 2021 10:02 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Apples to oranges comparison! Teachers spend much more than 15 minutes around their students which the CDC says is the time it takes to pass on the virus. When have you stood at the register for that long? Ridiculous argument.

805Surfer Feb 20, 2021 11:46 AM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Grocery store workers and other essential workers should have priority vaccinations as well as teachers.
When this all started there was no vaccine on the table. Obtaining food was essential for survival. School however could be accomplished online, clearly not ideal, yet doable.
One thing my 3 elementary children have learned very efficiently this last year, which never would have happened otherwise, is a high level of computer and online efficiency, at a very young age. I’m amazed at the things they know how to do. They use Google Classroom with ease, accessing Google Drive, slides, etc.
This is the same system some college administrations use for internal business. They know how to run online presentations. They are learning how to troubleshoot computer glitches and network issues. Did you do these things when you were 7 years old? Computer literacy is the future, no matter the discipline.
Vaccinations are just around the corner. This school year is almost over. If we just finish up the school year as is and get everyone who wants to vaccinate taken care of by sumner, then we can start the fall school year with confidence.
I have a degree myself in physiological/biological sciences. I am no medical professional. Other than correlation studies of childrens health isolated from other age groups concerning COVID I have yet to see any discerning facts that suggest that young children can not be COVID-19 virus carriers. We all have families at home we want to protect. We love our teachers although many have shamed them on public comment. We are lucky to be in a society that emanates compassion at times through policy. Unfortunately ever action has a reaction and not all are ideal. We are almost through this.

dukemunson Feb 20, 2021 12:16 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

805 - That’s great that your kids are doing well... I’m truly happy. The science and evidence though is overwhelming regarding the negative impact school closures are having on huge swaths of the population... that’s mental, physical and emotional. You will have the option to keep your kids home and zoom through June... but your (and the teachers union) “compassion” is to the obvious and proven detriment to society !!

Basicinfo805 Feb 20, 2021 01:08 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

Surfer - ok, well I am a medical professional, and don't agree with you whatsoever. None of us do. Kids powering through Google Classroom, daily Zoom "lessons", and other computer stuff, and that's it? I see where you're coming from but that's not where it's at. School's not about learning how to run an iPad, especially for grammar school kids. School is so much more than that for kids. Don't fool yourself. They need the experience. Trust me.

sacjon Feb 20, 2021 03:23 PM
Superintendent of Schools Provides Update on In-Person Learning

805surfer - The school year is NOT "almost over," there are still 3 whole months plus another week of February and some in June. That is more than 1/3 of the school year left and many elementary schools teach exciting lessons during this time - the missions, Jamestown, etc. It is CRITICAL they get this final 1/3 of their school year in person after losing out on so much. No, the kids will benefit and thrive with even 1/3 of their school year in person. They've lost so much already, we need to stop taking from them.

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