By David M. Greenwald
Amid efforts by parents to push for the resumption of in-person instruction and announcements made nationally, DJUSD has developed their own model for returning to campus via a hybrid learning model—and this week Superintendent John Bowes announced “we are getting closer to meeting the established conditions for a safe reopening in Hybrid Learning in Davis Joint Unified.”
As Yolo County moves closer to a red designation after a huge spike occurred in the fall and winter, Bowes announced in an email to parents, “I am pleased to report that indicators are trending positively and we are actively planning for a return to campus for our students.”
The announcement comes on the heels of statewide legislation that could require districts to provide a hybrid model by mid-April and an announcement by Public Health Officer Aimee Sisson stating that elementary schools should open.
Aimee Sisson told the Board of Supervisors last week that she believes elementary school students can safely return to school now while junior high and high school must wait, as must high school athletics, which involve close contact and thus continue to pose significant health risks.
“There are many reasons to get our kids back in school,” Sisson said. “One is the learning loss that’s occurring as they are doing distance learning.”
At the federal level, as Bowes noted, President Biden said, “I think we should be vaccinating teachers. We should move them up in the hierarchy.”
On Friday, Governor Newsom announced that 10% of each county’s vaccine allocation will be prioritized for educators starting March 1.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond affirmed in a recent interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “My conversation with state leaders is how do we get as much COVID testing to our schools as possible, how do we accelerate getting the vaccine to educators; to me those are the keys to being able to do what the CDC Guidelines say.”
Bowes also cited Sisson, who made the “decision that Yolo County will join a number of other Sacramento area and northern California counties to prioritize teachers and education employees in the current Yolo County vaccination roll-out.”
What that means locally is that there is an agreement reached with DTA for returning to school as well as an “on-campus testing COVID-19 testing sites for staff and students at almost every campus through our excellent partnership with Healthy Davis Together.”
The question now turns to logistics of returning to campus.
Yolo County announced this week that the county has expanded COVID-19 vaccination efforts to all of Phase 1B (those over age 65 and essential frontline workers), which includes all DJUSD employees.
“With this expansion, all DJUSD educators and staff will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Yolo County,” Bowes wrote. “This is most welcome news and we appreciate this important step. Of the over 730 employee responses to our most recent survey, 22% reported to have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and an additional 66% are willing to be vaccinated when the doses are available.
“Every day, more and more of our employees are getting vaccinated and, as a District, we are doing everything possible to prioritize and facilitate this critical effort.”
Meanwhile, Bowes announced that DJUSD is planning for a full regular re-opening of campuses by the fall.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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