Courtesy of San Benito High School Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum:
Dear San Benito High School Parents, Students and Community:
The San Benito High School Board of Trustees on Tuesday, July 14, held a special meeting to discuss the potential safety protocols that are being developed ahead of the scheduled Aug. 13 start of the new school year. The protocols were presented as an informational, discussion item focused on ensuring a safe and clean learning and working environment on campus, for whenever students and staff return to campus.
We are preparing for every contingency, starting by considering which one of the two instructional models that will be presented to the Board for consideration and approval on July 28 will be implemented when school starts on Aug. 13: one being a hybrid (blended learning) approach in which students would be on campus receiving in-person instruction each morning or afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and the other requiring a return to 100 percent full remote instruction.
Our goal has been and is to remain flexible and adaptable during this ever-evolving situation as we note that 75 percent of California counties are now on the governor’s watch list in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in San Benito County and across the state.
With case counts continuing to move upward, school districts in our area and beyond are having to make very difficult decisions about the delivery of instruction this coming Fall with safety being the number one priority for everyone. Given the pandemic and the complexity of the situation, we’re having to look at things creatively and differently regarding instructional delivery as well as student and staff safety.
Planning for the Fall Semester
As Assistant Principal Laurie Chavez explained to the Board on Tuesday, we are committed to providing a safe, clean learning and working environment while remaining flexible and adaptable, guided by recommendations from our county public health officials, the California Department of Education, and federal CDC guidelines.
If and when we move forward with the hybrid model, safety protocols will include a requirement that everyone on campus (students, staff, visitors, parents) will wear masks, which we will provide if needed. We are all in this together and we don’t want to be punitive, but we must educate and be role models to provide a safer and healthier environment on campus.
Under the hybrid instructional model, San Benito High School would be divided into seven “mini campuses” each with its own entrance/exit, restrooms, staff lounge, parking lot, supervision, fencing, and handwashing stations. This will ensure that cohorts of students are not mixing while on campus.
Active and Passive Health Screenings
We will encourage parents/guardians to do a passive health screening (temperature check) at home prior to sending students to school, where they will wear a face covering and have their temperature taken in designated areas prior to entering campus. Students with a temperature below 100.4 will be allowed to enter campus, while those students at or above will be held in a monitoring area until they can be picked up.
Classrooms throughout campus have been set up to include a minimum of six feet of social distancing between student desks and workstations. We anticipate that each cohort will have approximately 15 or 16 students, to ensure appropriate social distancing.
In addition to designated restrooms for each mini-campus, trips to restrooms will require signing in on a Google Sheet, which will be used to alert custodial staff so that restrooms can be disinfected after each use.
Cleaning During the Day
When students and staff are on campus Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the Hybrid Model, the custodial staff will clean and disinfect classrooms after the morning cohort of students meets, then again after school. In addition to the daily cleaning and disinfecting, on Wednesdays a deep cleaning will take place since students will not be on campus.
Students will be provided with nutritional, grab-and-go meals that have been pre-assembled for both the morning and afternoon cohorts. Social distancing will be implemented at all meal pick-up locations, which will utilize existing snack bars and the cafeteria.
Buses will have hand sanitizers and each bus will be marked to indicate where students can sit in a socially-distanced manner. After each route, buses will be disinfected.
Let’s All Help Slow the Spread
The District will designate an employee who can answer a specific phone extension that visitors will use when they arrive on campus. We will designate separate routes for the entry into and exit from office spaces and we will encourage everyone on campus to wash their hands often, avoid close contact with others and monitor their health.
In addition to the designation of separate campuses and the application of signage and stickers to help people maintain social distancing, prior to the start of the Fall semester our team will create more informational videos to explain our scheduling and health and safety measures.
Whether we implement the hybrid model (a blend of in-person and remote learning) or return to 100 percent remote learning, we will always maintain the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our top priority. Over these next few weeks, we will continue to work with our campus and community constituents to do what’s best for our students and staff, always utilizing the latest information and recommendations from local and state health officials throughout the decision making process.
A Team Effort
The work of our safety team that put together the health and safety protocols is indicative of the cooperative effort displayed by our faculty, staff, SBHSTA, CSEA Chapter 173, Board of Trustees and community throughout this pandemic. Our teachers’ and classified unions have been excellent partners throughout as we strive to safely reopen San Benito High School for our school community. And we are grateful for the feedback from parents and students as we plan the best and safest way to deliver instruction in the 2020-2021 school year. Parents: please make sure to indicate your school attendance preference by filling out the survey below.
Despite these challenging times, I am constantly reminded that every day is a great day to be a Baler!
San Benito High School Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum