CCSD School Board votes to allow struggling groups of students to volunteer for in-person assistance Trustees unanimously voted for a plan that would allow some individuals back on campuses

School board members met last night to discuss several topics, including whether or not CCSD schools should reopen in any capacity. Ultimately, they decided to let principals choose groups of students that require guidance and have them physically visit their schools and receive extra help. ”Our recommendation is to allow our principals, they know their communities, to invite small groups of students to their campuses on a voluntary basis,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brenda Larsen-Mitchell said. “We know that we have students that need social-emotional wellness interventions and academic screenings that need to be done.” Photo Credit: CCSD
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After careful consideration and discourse, board members voted 7-0 to continue full-time distance learning, but allow for principals at their discretion to invite small groups of students that are having a hard time academically or mentally to voluntarily return to in-person schooling. This plan would be a stepping stone in the board’s overarching goal to transition to a hybrid model as discussions continue. 

“This is not a perfect plan. There are inequities,” CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara said “It’s a small step to try and find a way that we can transport kids back to the regular five days a week for months at the same time.” 

One of the largest factors that influenced this decision was the negative effects online learning had on first semester grades.

“We have heard from parents and teachers that many of our children are struggling to keep up their grades in distance education,” Dr. Brenda Larsen-Mitchell said. “It is important to know that other districts are experiencing similar trends. Over 90% of our schools have assigned more Fs this year for fall semester 2020 than they did last year. Many of these grades were assigned to students who we wouldn’t typically expect to receive these grades.”

Another large portion of the meeting was dedicated to figuring out ways to immunize staff. Board members felt that by vaccinating staff they could significantly improve the safety in schools.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is a key mitigating strategy to reduce the impact of this pandemic and protect our employees. It is also relatively new which means a lot of work is still to be done on this topic,” CCSD Human Resources Executive Nadine Jones said. “We are working on making a confidential vaccine tracking system available to our employees, in order to allow employees to report their immunization information and provide courtesy reminders of second dose eligibility dates.”

One problem that was brought up throughout the meeting was the many inequities of the plan for allowing some students to return. For instance, transportation will not be provided due to the uncertainty of which and when students will be attending.

“The transportation is still a concern for me. I think it would be very beneficial for us to know which students do not have access because of transportation,” CCSD District D Trustee Irene Cepeda said. 

In the meantime, initiatives have been taken to improve the virtual education environment, such as continuing to provide mental health aid and educational resources.

“We actually had social workers and counselors who volunteered to make sure our students had adults to connect with and that’s just a testament to the hardworking staff we have,” Larsen-Mitchell said, “We have Canvas courses for all educators. We’ve enhanced our academic unit meetings. We have distance learning resource videos for educators and also supplemental materials.”