Courtesy of San Benito High School Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum:
Dear San Benito High School Parents, Students and Community:
During a special meeting of the San Benito High School Board of Trustees on Tuesday, June 30, Principal Adrian Ramirez presented an informational slideshow to the Board addressing possible reopening plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
The presentation is an update on where we are, so far, in the planning process. Comprehensive details of the school reopening plan, including scheduling and safety protocols, will be shared with the community in the middle and at the end of July.
Tuesday’s report was crafted using feedback from Google surveys, in which more than 1,000 responses were submitted by both students and parents, feedback provided by a student focus group, along with input from SBHS teachers, staff and administrators through Zoom feedback sessions.
Instructional Delivery Options
With the continued uncertainty surrounding the possible resurgence of COVID-19 and potential stay-at-home orders, we have to be prepared for all instructional delivery contingencies, ranging from the least restrictive (traditional, in-person learning on campus) to a hybrid approach (combining in-person and distance learning) to the most restrictive (a full distance learning approach).
We are also planning for various forms of blended learning and instruction, combining synchronous (face-to-face instruction in the classroom and via Zoom, with teaching and learning happening at the same time) and asynchronous, in which students follow content at their own pace with teacher guidance.
As we move forward, we know that we must be prepared to begin the year in any one of the three instructional phases and be able to adapt to transitioning out of one phase and into the other. Our goal is to maintain as much continuity and consistency between phases as possible.
We continue to plan to safely serve our students, faculty and staff using the latest guidance from the San Benito County Public Health Department, state health officials and the California Department of Education, along with continued coordination of local school superintendents.
The current plan is for all school staff and students to wear face coverings while on campus. We will monitor the most recent health mandates ahead of the Aug. 13 opening of school and follow the state guidelines at that time.
In classrooms and other instructional areas, various safety measures are under consideration. Information on cleaning, disinfection and ventilation will be addressed later this Summer.
After considering various instructional options for the coming school year, including having students take six classes simultaneously, three classes at a time, or two classes at a time in six-week intervals, plans are to have students take two classes each grading period, allowing them to complete a semester’s worth of credit per course each semester.
Under this hybrid instructional approach, the student body would be broken into two cohorts, with students coming to campus twice a week (Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday), attending one course per day, with the rest of the day devoted to distance learning for both classes. Students and teachers would not be on campus Wednesday, when campus will be cleaned and disinfected. This day will include distance learning support for students, teacher preparation and collaboration time, and department planning meetings.
This instructional model allows for a quick transition back to full distance learning, if conditions require that, along with the possibility of returning to full, on-campus learning in the Spring semester.
Students Requiring Full Distance Learning
Based on an end-of-year survey of parents, an estimated 300 students would potentially need a full distance learning model, so we are continuing to brainstorm solutions to address the needs of those students.
Considerations for Critical Student Supports
As we plan schedules, instructional models and health and safety protocols, we are keeping in consideration the need for critical supports for particular student groups such as those in special education, special day classes, Advanced Placement, academy and co-taught classes, and others.
In the Fall semester, every student who needs one will be issued a Chromebook for home use and we will have access to nearly 500 hotspots that can be provided to students who need internet access.
I want to remind all students and parents that San Benito High School remains committed to our mission statement of educating all students to their highest potential so they have the greatest range of personal options upon graduation. We thank our community and stakeholder groups for their honest and detailed feedback as we plan for the upcoming school year while remaining cognizant of the uncertainties we have all dealt with since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thank you for your patience and flexibility during these extraordinary times. One thing we know is true: whatever schedule we roll out in the Fall, there is the high likelihood that we’ll have to pivot quickly. With continued support and collaboration, we will all work together to provide the best possible and safest learning environment for our students.
Despite these uncertain times, I am constantly reminded that every day is a great day to be a Baler!
San Benito High School District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum