A group of five Kindergarten students, along with their teacher, have been piloting an in-person summer school program this year at Alexander Rose Elementary School. COVID19 safety protocols, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings, and sanitizing hands, are all part of the daily routine agreed upon by all participating families.
“It’s going really well,” said Summer School Principal Lori Nuno. “A parent this morning said her son is very excited to get to school everyday.”
The day begins with staff outside waiting as parents drop off their children in front of the school. Each student has a symptoms check, along with a squeeze of hand sanitizer, before moving to their designated spot. Each student is given six feet of social distance from the next. The students then walk in a single-file line to their classroom, where everything they need for that day is already at their desk.
“(Ms. Lundeen) can get way more done with them in-person than online,” said Nuno, an assistant principal at Rancho Milpitas Middle School in 2019-20. “She’s made it so they don’t have to leave their desks, except for using the bathroom. If they do, they must wash their hands in the bathroom and then also use hand sanitizer when they come back into the classroom.”
Of 17 summer Kindergarten students, five families opted to have their child come in from 8:45-10am Monday through Thursday for in-person instruction. This quintet is not required to partake in the online instruction that is in place for the more than 200 Kinder through 6th grade Summer School students.
At their desks, the teacher and students wear face shields instead of facemasks. They must keep them on for the entire school day. Nuno said the clear face shields allow teachers to see and evaluate their students’ expressions, while also permitting students to see the teacher pronunciate words.
Schools are a designated Essential Business, and are permitted to operate in this capacity as long as they conform with guidelines laid out in the Social Distancing Protocol of the County Health Officer Risk Reduction Order. Milpitas Unified School District is phasing in the 2020-21 school year with all students in 100 percent distance learning for at least the first six weeks. Governor Newsom’s new statewide directive for students returning to campuses mandates 14 consecutive days of zero new COVID19 cases in the county..
“This program that we’re piloting is what it will look like solely in the classroom, not school-wide, because we only have one class of five students,” said Nuno, who leads 19 summer teachers in various programs, almost all virtual. “They get a chance to see what fits their style of teaching and they can transfer that into the fall. It’s a great way to experiment to see what strategies work best for them as classroom teachers.”
MUSD’s COVID19 Advisory Task Force, along with its 14 subject-concentrated subcommittees, continues to map out all aspects of a 2020-21 Plan, which involves phasing-in of students on campuses in varying intervals at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. District leaders, who have invited parents to a series of 10 virtual Q&A sessions throughout the month of July to answer questions about 2020-21, are scheduled to reconvene at an August 3 special board meeting and update the community.