Dear Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees, Interim Superintendent Crystal Leach, and Sequoia District Teachers Association president Edith Salvatore:
As parent leaders, we ask the district to prioritize the safe reopening of campuses during the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, for purposes of in-person pupil reengagement and instruction.
We are deeply concerned about the negative impact of distance learning on children. We would like to offer our help — in any way we can — to enable the safe and swift return of students and teachers to campus for in-person instruction.
We believe a commitment to returning to in-person, on-campus learning with direct instruction begins with a detailed, submitted and widely communicated plan. We understand reopening can't happen until local and state health orders allow. While high-level proposals have been circulated, they lack specificity, which raises questions about their suitability and true readiness. We understand there are concerns and constraints (such as the current capacity of available properly ventilated rooms); however, rather than posing these constraints as obstacles, a thorough examination of how to operationalize reopening, given the known constraints, should be part of the plan.
In addition, we understand all stakeholders will need, in the short term, to be creative and flexible about solutions. We know not every family or teacher can return in person and a distance learning option must remain for those who are medically fragile or quarantining from COVID-19.
Per the district's own Dec. 9, 2020, survey results, 43% of 3,770 SUHSD respondents would like their children to attend as much in-person school as possible when the county moves into the red tier — which is expected to happen very soon. Fifty-seven percent would like their children on campus should the county hit the orange tier. And more than three-quarters — 76% — want them back if we move into yellow. It is clear the majority of families in SUHSD will want in-person instruction soon. As some proposed legislation and discussions state, schools need to be ready to offer on-campus learning within two weeks of local or state public health orders allowing school campuses to be open. We are at — or close to — that trigger.
Convincing data shows that in-person instruction is safe with universal masking, social distancing, screening measures and regular testing. We can look to Menlo Park City School District for an example of how labor representatives have worked cooperatively and collaboratively with the district to allow for in-person instruction. We are grateful for how hard teachers and staff have worked to deliver distance learning; their efforts are appreciated and recognized. But now it is time to get back to in-person instruction — the way we know students are best able to succeed, as every child deserves a chance to reach his or her own potential.
While we applaud efforts to bring extracurricular cohorts and activities back to campus, such efforts are not enough — and they do not replace nor preclude the importance of getting children back at school for in-person, on-campus direct instruction.
We have studied California's Safe Schools for All Plan and we expect a detailed SUHSD plan for a return to in-person instruction; we stand ready to help and support with its implementation and dissemination, or any other way you see fit.
Parent leaders from across Sequoia Union High School District: Tricia Barr, Jacqui Cebrian, Sarah Eisner, Becky and Aaron Cordero, Tish and Ivan Costantini, Julia and Christian Fex, Cortney and Tommy Hyland, Tina Lin, Andrea Luskin, Linda McGeever, Jeff and Jennifer Moon, Taylor Perkins, Matt and Sonia Presotto, Sarah Ravella, Danielle and John Ryan, and Julie and Rick Thall. Learn more about the group at reopensuhsd.com.