West Side Union Elementary Reopening Update July 22, 2020

Dear West Side Families,

As I shared out yesterday, you have heard that Governor Gavin Newsom provided new state guidance for schools last Friday. This guidance impacts our school district’s plans for the fall. I am writing to share an update on what we know about school reopening based on this guidance. Also, this letter will outline the next steps that we will be taking to prepare for a safe and successful school year. As we near the beginning of the school year, West Side will provide regular updates. Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding during these challenging and quickly-changing times. Together, we will provide our children with the best education possible!


Kris Menlove

West Side Superintendent-Principal

New State Guidelines

Beginning in Distance Learning

The governor announced on Friday that any district whose schools are in a county that is on the state “watch/monitoring” list will not be able to open for in-person learning until they are off that list for 14 days. 

For our school district, this means that we will begin classes in distance learning. The West Side Board of Trustees will discuss and approve re-opening plans, which will include a recommendation to modify the school calendar at the July 30, 2020 special board meeting; agenda to be posted next week. At this time, West Side will not be applying for a waiver to re-open due to safety concerns.


The governor provided new statewide mask requirements for schools (once in-person learning resumes). These include: 

Student Face Covering Requirements



Face Covering Requirement

Under 2 years


2 years - 2nd grade

Strongly encouraged. Face shield can be worn instead of mask

Third grade and above 

Yes, unless exempt according to CDPH guidelines

  1. All staff must wear face coverings unless exempt.

  2. Schools are being required to exclude students from campus if they are not exempt and refuse to wear a mask provided by the school. If you do not feel comfortable sending your child to school in a mask, please contact the school to discuss distance learning options for your child.

  3. Children can remove their masks for meals, naps,  and outdoor recreation. 

Learn More

Our Next Steps

West Side teachers, administrators, and other school staff are preparing a strong distance learning program.  As the new school year approaches, here are some items to expect:

  • West Side will be providing an at home learning kit, which will include learning materials and school supplies.

  • West Side will survey families to determine technology needs.

  • West Side will provide details about what a daily or weekly schedule might look like.

  • West Side will communicate any additional supports that might be provided for students. 


Q:  When will our schools reopen for in-person instruction?

A: Under the new guidelines, schools cannot open for in-person learning as long as their county is on the state’s monitoring/watch list. The county must be off the watch list for 14 consecutive days before a school can consider offering in-person learning. As of today, Sonoma County remains on the watch list at least until Aug. 2. It is not yet clear whether Sonoma County will be removed from the watch list, but even if it is, schools must still wait two weeks to reopen (Aug. 14). In order to provide families and staff clarity around what they can expect, we are planning to begin the year in distance learning. The recommendation to the school board is to provide distance learning through the first trimester with the potential to re-open when safe to do so and to provide parents/families, staff with more stability.

Q: How is my school/district ensuring high-quality distance learning?

A: The state has clearly outlined how all schools should ensure high-quality distance education. This includes: 

  • Access to devices & connectivity for all kids

  • Daily interaction with teachers and other students

  • Challenging assignments equivalent to in-person classes

  • Adapted lessons for English language learners and special education students

Q: Will my child need to wear a mask to school under the new policy, once in-person learning resumes?

A: All children who are in third grade and higher are required to wear a mask unless they are medically exempt. Children between age 2 and second grade are strongly encouraged but not required to wear a mask. They can also wear a face shield. 

Q: Will the school provide a mask for my child once in-person learning resumes? 

Each school will have a supply of child-sized masks for any student who needs one or forgot to bring a mask. However, we encourage you to get some masks for your child as part of their back to school supplies. Getting masks in a design that your child likes can make it easier for them to wear the mask.

Q: Once in-person learning resumes, will students have to stay six feet apart? 

A: The state guidelines say that children should remain six feet apart where possible, but recognize that this may be hard to strictly enforce. Adults are asked to stay six feet apart from other adults and children. 

Q: Will school staff and students need to be tested for COVID-19 once school campuses reopen? 

A: According to the state, school districts and schools shall test staff periodically, as testing capacity permits and as practicable. Examples of recommended frequency include testing all staff over two months, where 25% of staff are tested every two weeks, or 50% every month to rotate testing of all staff over time. The guidance does not require testing for children. We are working with the Sonoma County Office of Education and the Sonoma County Health Department to determine how testing will be conducted.

Q: Once schools reopen, will they need to close again if there is a confirmed case among a student or staff member? 

A.  The new state guidance clearly outlines what should happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on a campus, which is outlined in the chart below. In each case,  the school district will work closely with the Sonoma County Department of Health Service’s contact tracing team. 


Confirmed COVID-19 Case: 





Close class if one or more children/employees have a confirmed case 

Close school if multiple classes OR 5% of total student/staff population have confirmed cases

Close if 25% of all schools are closed due to COVID-19


Thank you so much, and wishing you health and happiness.



Kris Menlove

West Side Superintendent-Principal