Prior to the Monday, June 8, release of the California Department of Education Guidelines, many school districts across the state were scrambling to strategize over how to safely reopen schools in the fall.
With just two months left on the countdown to the 2020-2021 school year, some districts in the Inland Empire decided to work proactively to come up with a plan for their students, and not continue to wait on state recommendations. Some schools have chosen to implement a great deal of these long-awaited guidelines, while others have chosen to forgo some recommendations in favor of their own safety measures.
Fortunately for families throughout the Inland Empire, including those with special needs children who thrive best in a traditional school environment, It seems it appears that the general consensus amongst these school districts is to get “as close to our previous normal as possible,” according to Temecula Valley Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Jodi McClay.
The same sentiment was repeated by Upland Unified Superintendent Nancy Kelley in a June 2, letter to families. “Our preference, of course, would be a complete return to normal school operations.”
“Close to normal” means that most classrooms will look very similar to how students have known them in the past, with a few safety measures implemented throughout. Ms. McClay finds the ideas regarding proposals to have teachers teach from behind a barrier, as well as students eating and playing alone while staying six feet apart all day “unreasonable.” Special needs children usually depend on direct human contact and such measures could hinder their ability to learn effectively.
While most of the parent feedback has been positive, some parents may be on edge with the idea of having their child return to business as usual on the playground. Fortunately, distance learning options are available to these families, and the districts are even considering a hybrid at-home and on-campus model.
For parents who want to have a voice in what the upcoming school year looks like, Redlands Unified School District spokeswoman MaryRone Shell has indicated that the district will be hosting focus groups made of different constituencies as they continue to develop plans in accordance with the Department of Education’s 55-page guidelines.
We are keeping an eye on how schools throughout Southern California are re-opening for the 2020-2021 school year. If you have any questions about how this will affect your special needs child, please be sure to contact us.