Dear Albany Community,
Staff presented a resolution and report at the May 25 Board of Education meeting regarding reopening for the 2021-22 school year. The Board passed a resolution committing the District to a full return to in-person instruction this fall.
I would like to thank the staff who have worked long hours to ensure that we have a smooth start to next year, and have plans in place, in case we hit a few bumps. I’d also like to thank the Fall Reopening Task Force, who met for thoughtful and lively discussions around these critically important issues. Although a great deal of thinking has gone into planning for contingencies (specifically COVID-19 outbreaks), planning may be affected by guidance from the State, which will be announced on June 15. Governor Newsom has already stated that the state will reopen on that date and the tier system eliminated.
It’s clear that the District needs to maintain supplies of personal protective equipment, continue with ventilation upgrades, and secure a new contract for student and staff COVID testing. The protocols we have developed to track and respond to positive COVID cases are working well, and those protocols will be maintained and updated based on new guidance from the State and County. As a district, we are continuing to explore options for outdoor teaching spaces, and have developed schedules for staggered lunches, outdoor eating, and options for spacing out lunch distribution stations.
Later in the summer, as we move closer to the first day of school, we won’t need to speculate on what the pandemic conditions will be, they will be known. If an unexpected negative downturn occurs, we are ready. No one wants to dwell on worst-case scenarios, but if necessary, the District is prepared to pivot to one-hundred percent remote instruction in the event of a serious COVID outbreak. AUSD will be maintaining technology tools for remote learning, which may be useful in other circumstances that may trigger school closures, such as wildfire smoke events.
Although AUSD is planning for fully in-person instruction at all school sites, we may be required to have an independent study program. Some students may need to stay in remote learning because of individual or family medical needs. The State has already indicated that next year, independent study and Home Hospital students must be provided with access to technology and internet, as well as a rigorous curriculum.
Vaccinations are easily available!
With each passing week, vaccinations are more easily available. Walk-in vaccinations are available at the Buchanan Street parking lot of Golden Gate Fields (more information is available at MyTurn.CA.gov), and both the CVS Pharmacy and Safeway on Solano Avenue are taking appointments. We have updated the District’s COVID-19 Info webpage with some of these local resources. Please get vaccinated if you are eligible! It is the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself, your family, and our school community safe.
Health Care/Public Health Professionals Committee
A committee of Albany parents who are health care and public health professionals has recently formed to serve as a resource for AUSD officials. This group has taken on various projects including the development of health-related communications, reviewing and synthesizing public health guidance, and troubleshooting Screener-19. This group does not focus on school or district-wide policy issues; rather, they focus on supporting the district in addressing day-to-day health and safety issues. If you are a health professional with expertise in infectious disease, pediatrics, or public health, and are interested in working alongside us, we welcome your involvement. We have two more scheduled meetings through June, on Monday evenings. If you are interested, send a brief email with information about how you might be able to contribute to firstname.lastname@example.org. Health professionals can also reach out if you have input you want to share with the committee or issues that you would like for us to discuss.
Travel with care this Memorial Day weekend
For weeks now, California has had the lowest COVID-19 rates in the country. However, be aware that the State still has travel guidance in place. Please check this before traveling on this weekend, and have a wonderful and restful holiday!
Stay hopeful and encouraged,
Dr. Frank Wells
Superintendent of Schools
Albany Unified School District