Dear AUSD School Community,
This is an update on the District’s progress towards the reopening of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that distance learning has continued much longer than many of us expected and that the frustrations, and in some cases, tragedies, that members of our community have faced, have been overwhelming. Albany Unified staff and school board members all want our schools to reopen. I can state unequivocally that we share this commitment. This update will cover several items:
- Change from Target Dates to Criteria-Based Reopening
- In-Person Learning Hubs
- Reopening Priority: in-person classes at elementary schools for grades TK-2
Change from Target Dates to Criteria-Based Reopening
The explicit, enforceable criteria for reopening in person are as follows:
- District Readiness as outlined by ACOE – The AUSD COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP) has been submitted to Alameda County Office of Education. The AUSD COVID-19 Dashboard indicates that AUSD has satisfied requirements. Albany classrooms meet Alameda County safety requirements.
- Green light from the State – The new Safe Schools for All plan (1/14/2021) states that grades TK-6 may reopen for in-person instruction in purple-tier counties when adjusted case rates have been below 25 cases per 100,000 people for five days in a row. Alameda County is above the allowed level currently, but case rates are falling and this criteria may be met in the near future.
- Negotiated agreement with our labor partners – We are currently negotiating Memorandums of Understanding for in-person reopening of grades TK-12.
The District is in frequent contact with the Albany Teachers Association (ATA) regarding pandemic issues. We greatly value our teachers and respect the confidentiality of these negotiations. The District has scheduled work sessions with ATA leadership for February 3 and February 10.
Albany is lucky to have a team of talented, dedicated teachers, and teacher leadership that is willing to work diligently and collaboratively together with district administration. I would like to ask each of you who are grateful for the extraordinary efforts our teachers have made during these difficult times to email your student’s teacher and express your thanks.
Current hubs include Albany Children’s Center Preschool, In-person assessments by contract employees to determine if students qualify for Special Education, 1:1 Intervention services with outside service providers, and at-school learning at Albany High for AHS students with limited internet access. AUSD will be expanding these hubs to include mental health hubs, and elementary internet/support hubs during the month of February.
Reopening Priority: In-person classes at elementary schools for grades TK-2
Although AUSD fulfills many of the criteria necessary for reopening in-person instruction, Alameda County does not yet meet the State’s requirement regarding case rates. AUSD must also continue discussions with our valued labor partners to achieve agreements for a safe return. Our plan is to work immediately on expanding in-person hubs as described above, while we simultaneously work to reopen transitional kindergarten through second grade classrooms in a hybrid model.
The District understands that returning to in-person instruction is not the goal of every family. Beginning in early February, parents and guardians will be asked to choose whether or not they wish their student to begin In-Person Hybrid Learning at their school site or to remain in Distance Learning for the remainder of the school year. We expect a 2-3 week transition period between the selection of learning mode and the launch of hybrid learning for grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through second.
Stay hopeful and encouraged,
Frank Wells, Ed.D.
Superintendent - AUSD