West Side Union Elementary School District Statement in Response to New State Directives for Schools
July 21, 2020
Dear West Side Families,
Governor Gavin Newsom during his press conference presented a significant shift from local school district control of reopening efforts, to statewide directives meant to address the health and safety concerns presented by a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases statewide.
Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) from the beginning of the pandemic has used the best state and local health guidance available in order to prioritize student health and safety. California Department of Public Health will be playing a stronger role in setting the criteria for reopening and operating schools under COVID-19.
West Side also appreciates that the new directives provide specific guidance—not only for when to close, but also for determining when it is safe to reopen. Schools need this level of detailed and consistent guidance in order to provide the students, families, and staff they serve with the reassurance that clear safety protocols are in place to protect their health.
We recognize that while helpful, they do present yet another change in the information that schools and families have been receiving this summer, and that this could create some confusion and frustration. However, If there's been one consistency during this ever-changing situation, it's been the need to be flexible and make adjustments based on changing conditions. West Side will continue to adapt based on the best available guidance of state and local health experts.
Since Sonoma County is currently on the state watch list, West Side will need to begin the school year in the distance learning portion of our plans. Based on the new guidance, all schools must remain in distance learning at least until their county has been off the state’s watch list for 14 days.
The state’s guidance also addresses the wearing of face coverings, social distancing, increased hygiene practices and cleaning, as well as rules for operating transportation and sports programming. You can find the Guidance for Schools and School-Based Programs at the COVID-19 website at covid19.ca.gov, clicking on the “Industry Guidance” section, and scrolling down to the Schools tab.
West Side will continue to partner with SCOE, which works closely with local school leaders and our public health department to interpret these state directives and how they impact the plans we have been diligently creating throughout the summer. Additionally, SCOE will work with our public health partners to ensure that Sonoma County has adequate testing and contact tracing capacity to ensure a safe return to school once Sonoma County is off the watch list.
On Monday, I and the other Sonoma County’s superintendents, as well as charter school and private school leaders, met to discuss this new guidance in detail. SCOE will be hosting a Facebook Live to update the public on Wednesday, July 22nd at noon. The West Side Board of Trustees will be meeting on Thursday, July 30th at 5:30 for a special board meeting to discuss the finalization of school re-opening plans. The agenda will be posted next week.
Thank you to our staff, parents, and students for their flexibility and understanding during these incredibly challenging, fluid, and unprecedented times. West Side’s goal is to continue to communicate in a clear and timely manner with our families.
West Side Superintendent-Principal