Rowe Elementary School reopens for in-person school on August 24

R. Roger Rowe was the first public school in the county to once again welcome students for in-person instruction on Monday August 24th. The school is very different this year with required face coverings for all students and staff, physical distancing, and plenty of hand washing, but Rancho Santa Fe School District School Board Chairman Scott Kahn was happy that the district can offer a certain sense of normalcy to elementary school students.

“To all parents who welcome kindergarten children, revel in the normalcy of their first day of kindergarten. I think it’s a really special once-in-a-lifetime moment and we’re really proud to be able to make that a possibility at school, ”Kahn said at a special board meeting. August 21.

The county and state have approved the waiver to reopen the district’s schools – only 27 of the 95 schools and school districts that requested the waiver have been approved. Private schools that have obtained their waiver include Santa Fe Christian, Francis Parker, The Bishop’s School, and La Jolla Country Day.

Rancho Santa Fe’s waiver was approved until grade six, however, as grade six is ​​part of Rowe’s College, the school board has determined that grade six will begin the year in distance education with the goal of keep the whole college on the same schedule.

San Diego County was removed from the watchlist on August 18, triggering the 14-day countdown until all schools in the county can physically reopen. September 1 is the earliest possible date for all of Rowe’s grades 6-8 to return. If the county returns to the watchlist at any time during the 14-day waiting period, the council may decide to bring back the sixth year under the waiver provisions.

In a message to families last week, Superintendent Donna Tripi said she was grateful to the district administrative team and their work over the summer to plan every scenario and ensure that “every inch” of the school is as safe as it can get. to be. She also acknowledged the district health and hygiene committee, whose expertise has helped develop the district’s COVID-19 prevention plan that meets and in some cases exceeds relevant guidelines.

“The work has just started,” Tripi said. “We are all in the same boat and need to work as a team – parents, teachers and students – to ensure that protocols are followed at school and at home for the safety of all.”

With the start of the school year, Rowe will aim to meet all requirements in the four major areas of safety protocols: physical distancing, face covering, screening and sanitation.

All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings on campus throughout the day, except when having lunch or a snack. Class sizes will not exceed the number of students who can occupy a classroom with the six-foot physical distancing guideline between desks, which is approximately 16 to 18 students per class. There is 6 feet of distance between all teachers and their students, and teachers will also be encouraged to use the outdoor space throughout the school day when possible.

Staff, students and parents will be trained on hand hygiene, including hand washing protocols. Hand sanitizer will be placed outside each classroom for students to use when they exit and enter and exit the room.

During the day, students will be kept in stable cohorts who will stay together for all lessons, lunch, and recess. During recess there will be designated areas for cohorts to play, while physically distancing themselves with face covers. Toilets have been designated by grade level and have occupancy requirements.

As adult-to-adult transmission is the greatest concern in the district, no adults will be allowed on campus for any reason. Parents are urged to cooperate with school protocols by screening children at home with temperature checks and screening questions, as well as new arrival and discharge rules.

“There is certainly no perfect,” admitted Sarah Neal, a board member, but said she believed the district had done the best job it could with its COVID-19 prevention plan. She encouraged everyone to work together and follow protocols so they can continue school in person: “This is what the kids need and we can do it. “

In response to COVID-19, Senate Bill 98 requires all school districts to provide a distance learning option for all students whose families do not feel comfortable having their children attend school. school in person. The district is required to provide daily live interaction, meet instruction minute requirements, and provide assessment and scoring just as it does for in-person instruction. Presence is required.

In July, it was reported that 50 of the school’s 563 students had opted for the distance learning model rather than returning to school in person. A district survey conducted from July 31 to August 31. 4 showed that 71% of 390 respondents said they would send their children back to school, 18% said no and 11% were unsure. The number of students who started the year in distance education was not provided by press time.

Rowe’s distance learning program centers around having students at home follow remotely with a classroom at school throughout the day on Zoom. The district purchased Swivl devices, a video technology that teachers can use in the classroom that makes it easy to record and share live streaming lessons and give distant students the ability to interact with their peers in the classroom. Unfortunately, the devices have not yet arrived.

In a message to the families, manager Megan Loh asked for patience and understanding as they navigated the new technology. However, some parents were concerned that they were not told until Friday afternoon of August 21 that the equipment had not arrived – was that distance education classes had been prepared. One parent said it was “unacceptable and unreasonable” that the district had “spent so much time and money preparing the school for in-person learning when no consideration was given to the state-mandated distance learning option ”.

In his post, Loh assured parents that while the flow will be stationary, students will be able to hear and speak through Zoom and that teachers will actively involve students in their lessons.

As detailed in the prevention plan, the district has established a COVID-19 response team that will monitor required screening and testing of staff. The district will also conduct its own contact tracing. If positive, the district will take appropriate action to quarantine the cohort or school according to California Department of Public Health guidelines.

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