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Superintendent's Message

Lafayette School District

“Our students are creative thinkers and problem-solvers and are prepared to become responsible, ethical, and productive citizens.”

June 30, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for your patience as we completed the 2019-20 school year and started up our planning for the 2020-21 year for our students, families, and staff.   While we are still in the process of determining a reopening plan for the first day of school on August 11, I would like to share some details of what we have considered to date and provide the update we promised by June 30.

Since the last day of school on May 29, we have continued regular meetings with our county public health officials at Contra Costa Health Services and the County Office of Education, as well as working alongside our nearby districts in Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek, Canyon, and Acalanes to ensure we are pursuing best practices and safe learning and working environments for August.

Prior to summer break, we assembled work teams that include more than 70 teachers and staff in the District, tasked with solving the biggest challenges of returning to school.  The groups are focused on health and safety, special education, curriculum, instructional technology, and social and emotional learning.  There are also middle school teams looking at the special challenges for Stanley.  Despite the summer calendar, these teams have been meeting regularly and investigating all feasible options to meet the needs of all students this fall. Our labor leaders from the Lafayette Education Association and the California School Employees Association are full partners in these teams and important collaborators to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students and families.

While everyone, parents and District staff included, has a strong preference to be back in our classrooms full time, our work over the summer requires us to balance the health and safety needs of all stakeholders – staff as well as students – and create a plan that will best meet everyone’s needs.  We continue to pursue the best educational opportunities but, with the guidance and direction we are receiving, will have constraints on what we can offer for a program in the early months of school.

August 11, First Day of School

Our plans still include a first day of school on August 11.  At this time, our public health advisors do not see any benefit to consideration of a later start date, so our plans continue to center on our scheduled return date of August 11.

We are still digesting all the guidance, from federal, state, and county agencies, to determine the best and safest way to convene school.  At this time, the county guidance does not suggest that all our students can reasonably assemble at once on campus.  We have not made a final decision at this time and will present options and recommendations to the Governing Board at a study session on July 6 and a special meeting on July 15.  We hope the information at the July 15 meeting will be final in nature, with the caveat that we will continue to comply with any new guidance from Contra Costa Health Services as it becomes available.

Distance Learning Options

We know there may be interest and specific needs for a full distance learning approach for some of our students and families.  We are planning for what form it might take, and will be surveying parents to identify interest and secure commitments so we may have both our regular classrooms and our full distance learning option appropriately staffed.  Please watch your email carefully if your family may be in need of this alternative.

Focus on Student Wellness

One of our work groups this summer focused on social and emotional learning, an important consideration as we return after a very long absence from the classrooms and one another.  A team that includes a principal, school psychologists, counselors, and teachers, is planning for the tools and important support we can provide to our students as they come back to school.   In addition to a general approach to student wellness, the District is engaging in a dialogue to improve the school experience for students and families of color, in response to recent national and local events and after hearing from our families over recent weeks about their experiences in our community and in our schools.

Instructional Improvements

With the possibility of a “hybrid” approach to learning, with some classroom based teaching and learning and some possibly remote, our District teams have been exploring ways to improve the student experience upon the return to school.  We are assessing additional curriculum that can be delivered effectively and consistently online, focusing our work on essential standards, reviewing best practices in assessment for our return, and understanding better the connection between technology and student learning. 

Meals During School Closure

We want to offer our deepest appreciation to the Acalanes Union High School District for partnering with us on meal distribution for our free and reduced price lunch eligible students.  The program ended on June 26 for the summer, and we will have updates on the food service program as the fall schedule begins to be finalized.

Health and Safety for All

We continue to hear from our colleagues at Contra Costa Health Services that one of the critical factors in stopping the spread of the disease is face coverings.  Masks will be an integral part of our classrooms in the fall.  CCHS has a new way for citizens of all ages to remember the health guidelines -- "face space hands home.”  These are reminders to use face coverings, provide physical distancing, wash hands frequently, and stay home if symptomatic.  We know you will be hearing these words together often as we reopen our campuses. 

We have been advised by Contra Costa Health Services that immunization requirements will be in place and will not be modified for the return to school.  We ask that families review their immunization needs with their pediatricians so that there are no obstacles to our students returning to our campuses.

Home-based screening will be an integral part of our return to school.  We will be asking parents to certify that no symptoms are present in homes or with students each day.  We will provide more details on the process for screening as we get closer to our return and gather recommendations from the public health agency.  Our Health & Safety team is working on processes and procedures that will guarantee all public health guidelines are followed in the care and cleaning of our schools, and schedules will be created for students and staff alike that allow a full cleaning to take place regularly and as needed.  These Health and Safety plans will be shared in detail as the District team brings a District plan to the Governing Board and provides it to all of our families.

Thanks and Next Steps

We know these messages sometimes create more questions for our parents and partners.  We thank you for your patience as we refine our plans for August.  We appreciate the many thoughts and ideas you have shared with us and apologize if we have not responded promptly, but we do read each incoming message carefully as it arrives.

We will provide you with another written update on July 16, promptly after the scheduled Governing Board meeting, and we are available throughout the summer to answer urgent concerns or questions at superintendent@lafsd.org.

Thank you again for your partnership and continued support during these extraordinary times.

Best regards,


Richard Whitmore

Superintendent

Richard Whitmore
School Closure and Coronavirus Updates

CDC Updates

Letter from Counselors and Psychologists with COVID-19 Support

Frequently Asked Questions 

Legislative and Policy Update: COVID-19 Response

July 30, 2020 Superintendent's Update

June 11, 2020 School Reopening Study Session

May 26, 2020 Update from Superintendent

April 29, 2020 Update on Governor's thoughts in reopening schools

April 21, 2020 Superintendent Message

April 8, 2020 County Direction for Distance Learning

April 7, 2020 Distance Learning Update

April 3, 2020 Update

April 1, 2020 State Superintendent Thurmond Message

March 27, 2020 Update

March 25, 2020 School Closure Extension

March 20, 2020 Closure and Learning

March 13, 2020 School Closure

March 10, 2020

March 6, 2020

February 28, 2020