All four school districts within Colusa County have been developing distance learning plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced July 17 that all counties on the COVID-19 watchlist will not be able to resume in-person instruction until removed from the list for a period of 14 days.
Colusa County was added to the states watchlist earlier this month due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
“We want nothing more than to bring all students back to class where the academic, social and developmental needs can be best met,” said Jeff Turner, superintendent for the Colusa Unified School District. “However, with the recent surge of Coronavirus in our state and region, which was affirmed by the Governor’s mandate, we cannot in good conscience reopen our campuses.”
According to Turner, making this decision early will allow his district to further optimize plans to deliver high quality distance learning in line with new guidelines provided by the governor and the California Department of Education, which will include daily live instruction with teachers and other students, access to technology and challenging assignments.
“We have worked extremely hard the past couple of weeks to do everything possible to bring some normalcy and routine back for our students,” said Summer Shadley, superintendent of the Maxwell Unified School District.
In light of the Newsoms mandate, Shadley said the Maxwell Unified School District made the decision to push back the first day of the 2020-21 school year from Aug. 12 to Aug 19 to help ensure a successful approach to the distance learning format.
Carol Geyer, superintendent of Pierce Joint Unified School District said that distance learning will look much different at the start of the school year than it did in the spring due to new legislation.
“Some of those details include ensuring pupils have access to devices and connectivity for participating in the educational program, content aligned to grade level standards, daily live interaction between a certificated employee and students, designated and integrated ELD for English learners, academic supports for students not performing at grade level, and social-emotional support for pupils,” said Geyer.
The day before Newsom’s announcement, the Williams Unified School District presented a two part school reopening plan to their board of trustees. The plan, developed by a Return 2 School Task Force comprised of students, staff, parents and administrators, laid out a distance learning model to be used at the start of the school year as well as a hybrid, blended learning model that will be used when the county is permitted to return to in-person instruction.
According to Williams Unified School District Superintendent Edgar Lampkin, children will be divided into cohorts once on-site instruction resumes for better contact tracing and quarantine measures, if needed.
“Half of the students attend in-person classes at least two days a week and three days via distance learning, with options for parents to keep students in full distance learning if the parent has safety concerns about in-person attendance,” said Lampkin.
Lampkin anticipates this model will be implemented in one to two months after school starts but that will depend on how long the county remains on the state watchlist.
“These are anxious and unusual times for all of usl,” said Lampkin. “Please remember that our beliefs will drive our attitudes, which will influence our actions and, in turn, give us the results in all that we do. Let us stay positive and work together to overcome this pandemic challenge so results can be positive!”
WCC Colusa Campus transitioning to virtual classes
The Colusa County Campus of Woodland Community College announced last week that the facility will be transitioning to virtual classes for the upcoming fall semester.
“Expect a mix of online and face to face sessions with Covid-19 mitigation and instructions from the instructor,” read a statement from the College.
According to the College, a few classes will remain face to face, including Culinary Arts and Welding, since these classes are designated as critical infrastructure classes by the state.
For more information, contact the Colusa County Campus administration office at 668-2500.