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3/5/2021 Letter - Update Regarding Reopening for In-Person Learning

March 4, 2021

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. As you may recall, the Antioch Unified School District took action in December to close schools for in-person learning until the end of the third quarter. At that time, we made a commitment to let parents know the status of re-opening for in-person learning no later than April 5th. Although that date is still weeks away, I wanted to update you regarding AUSD’s status for re-opening for in-person learning. Please know that you will be receiving further communication as we get closer to the April 5th date as well.

As you are most likely aware, there have been numerous guidelines issued regarding schools re-opening for in-person instruction. Unfortunately, many of the guidelines from the federal government conflict with state and local health guidance making it difficult to plan a return to school. Additionally, the guidance continues to change every 2-3 weeks further complicating plans to re-open. That being said, our goal is, and will continue to be to open schools for in-person learning in a manner that is safe, causes the least disruptions to families, and allows students to have the same level of interaction and instruction with their teachers as they would in our present distance learning model.

Currently, the guidelines for opening schools do not offer a path forward that meets these goals.  In regard to safety, although adjusted case rates are dropping in Contra Costa County, Antioch data shows that the virus is still significantly more active in our community than in most parts of the County. However, we will continue to monitor this as vaccines continue to roll-out and Spring arrives, giving hope that case rates will continue to drop in Antioch.

In regard to our goal of causing the least disruption as possible for families, current health mandates surrounding re-opening schools could prove very disruptive to families if we open too soon or move too quickly. For example, if there is an outbreak in a classroom, the teacher and the students will need to quarantine for 10 days causing families to further change work schedules, etc. Also, the current guidelines require students be placed in socially-distanced classrooms. In order to accomplish this, parents would need to choose if they want their child to continue in distance learning or would like their child to return in a hybrid model, which would include a combination of in-person learning and distance learning. This would mean that many students’ schedules would need to be changed and classes adjusted depending on how many parents chose each option, resulting in some students needing to change teachers. This, in our opinion, is a huge disruption to students and families so late in the school year. Additionally, unlike other counties, vaccines for educators in Contra Costa County are just now becoming available.

Finally, our last goal is to open in a manner that allows students to receive the same or more instruction from teachers that they receive in distance learning. The current guidelines, again, make this impossible. Socially distancing students in a manner that meets the current guidelines would mean that students would receive less direct instruction with their teachers.

In short, although we hope to offer an in-person learning opportunity to some students for the fourth quarter, there are many factors that are out of our control and many requirements that, in their current form, will cause a substantial disruption to families and will limit students’ learning time.

I know that for many of you, distance learning has been incredibly difficult as you work to manage a myriad of priorities and stressors. However, we have come so far and health data in our community still shows a substantial spread of the virus. Please look for further communication as we get closer to April 5th.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Anello
Superintendent