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In-person classes start at OUSD elementary schools Wednesday, Jan. 13; school board to meet

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Students in Ojai Unified School District’s elementary schools will return to in-person classes with a hybrid schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 13, according to Superintendent Tiffany Morse, who sent out a notice about the decision on Jan. 7.

Students returning to in-person classes will be on campus only Wednesday, Jan. 13, and Thursday, Jan. 14.

 

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 The week of Jan. 18, OUSD will follow its “conference prep schedule,” and hybrid students will again only be on campus on Wednesday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 21. 

The following week of Jan. 25 — the start of the second semester — OUSD will return to a full hybrid schedule with each group (cohort) being on campus two days per week, with a total of four in-person learning days.

The elementary schedule for January is on the accompanying charts in English and Spanish.

The link with the schedule seen above can also be viewed in Spanish at:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WpMYIHS_JBWq5cw8_Wzh1rL4OPw7vRxJ/view

For Matilija Middle School and Nordhoff High School, OUSD plans to return to campus in small cohorts for the second semester, which starts Jan. 25. The schedules that OUSD “Return to Campus teams” have been working on allow for one pod on campus each day, Morse wrote.

She added that there will be more details on the proposed schedule at the Wednesday, Jan. 13, school board meeting, at which a final decision will be made.

The meeting, held via teleconference, will start in closed session at 4:30 p.m. and in open session at 5:30 p.m.

The closed session will be to discuss the district property negotiations and OUSD labor negotiations.

Public comments can be received via the “public comment” link up until 4 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Public comments to be made after that time may be made in person at the OUSD board meeting room, with COVID-19 safety protocols of distancing and wearing a mask.  

The link to write a public comment for the school board meeting is: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1CCfKeZXXuRb167DjQXSDjggyD9OS3u9wFDiOcg1ESec/viewform?edit_requested=true

The meeting can be viewed live and recorded at:

https://www.youtube.com/user/adminojaiusdorg

 https://www.facebook.com/ojaiusd.org

Morse wrote: “Our goal is that we will maintain the regular hybrid schedule through the rest of the school year. However, there is a possibility that we could have to quarantine a class or pod following Ventura County Public Health guidelines. Families might wish to have a contingency plan in case a class needs to return to distance learning.”

She continued: “The current data suggests that schools in general are safe. Ojai is safer than most of the county and we believe that our dedicated staff and protocols keep Ojai Unified schools safe. We also understand that for a variety of reasons, returning to campus may not be best for everyone. We will continue to have an option for those families who want to stay on distance learning.”

She also wrote in her letter: “We know that Ojai Unified schools are so much more than academics. Our schools are places where students come to be loved, to feel safe, and to be nurtured. Our staff provide more than teaching, learning, supervision, technology, clean rooms, meals, and transportation. We are sources of stability and calm during the storm.

“I believe that our students need us now more than ever. The stories of students' depression, isolation, and hopelessness are real and heartbreaking. At the same time, I care deeply about our staff and their safety. I cannot describe how difficult it is to know that every decision we make right now has the potential to harm the very people that we are entrusted to serve and protect.

“I have spent many sleepless nights considering our return to campus. I have read emails from parents, heard from staff, and pored over the data and research. I have consulted with the Board, our admin team, and our union leadership.

"Here is our best thinking:

"• Schools continue to be some of the safest places in the community. This new study (https://globalepidemics.org/2020/12/18/schools-and-the-path-to-zero-strategies-for-pandemic-resilience-in-the-face-of-high-community-spread/) by Harvard and Brown University researchers shows that schools can safely open, even in conditions of wide community spread, and still protect staff and students.

"• The rates in Ojai continue to be significantly lower than the rest of the county. You can see the most recent numbers by ZIP code here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xJhFG4maH2-FyvElltPxUbRb6xVA39e4/view

• Ojai has also not seen the same spike as other parts of the county. Even though our most recent data is two weeks old, you will see from Ojai data over time that the rest of Ventura County started spiking on Dec. 19 while Ojai remained stable.

"• Even if Ojai experiences a spike due to the holidays, this Friday (Jan. 8) will be 14 days from Christmas, and next Thursday (Jan. 14) will be 14 days since New Year's, which covers the 14-day quarantine period.” 

When the school board held a special meeting on Dec. 28 to determine when students might return to in-person classes, the school board decided to have a "safety week," when school resumed on Jan. 4, during which most OUSD elementary students would study remotely until at least Jan. 11. 

The board voted for the elementary school students to return to a hybrid model of learning on Jan. 11, depending on the COVID-19 case numbers at that time, and the superintendent’s opinion of whether or not the safety week should be extended.

At that meeting, they also decided that students in OUSD special day classes and Chaparral High School would return to their campuses for in-person instruction on Jan. 4, which they have done.

Since OUSD opened its elementary schools and Chaparral for in-person learning on Nov. 2 before Ventura County went into the purple tier, those schools are allowed to reopen for in-person classes, under state and county Public Health guidelines.

Schools that were not opened for in-person clases before the county went into the purple tier are not allowed to reopen for in-person instruction until certain health metrics have been met, according to Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin.

OUSD's elementary schools were allowed to continue phased reopening in January, as they were open during the red tier (second from the worst tier), according to Levin in an email to the Ojai Valley News on Dec. 20.

However, his email continued: "Any stand-alone high schools and middle schools cannot open to in-person instruction unless they had a similar scenario during the red tier in November, where they had some classrooms open for in-person sessions."

During the hourlong Dec. 28 meeting, Morse reported that the district is aware of seven OUSD staff members and 11 students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Also, 19 staff members and 39 students have been quarantined. 

As the COVID-19 numbers increased in Ventura County in early December, the OUSD board called an emergency meeting Dec. 3 and decided to suspend in-person classes for most elementary students until at at least after winter break and reassess before the end of 2020.

At the Dec. 3 meeting, Ojai Federation of Teachers President Angie Genasci said the majority of the elementary teachers wanted to go to distance learning until winter break and reassess at that point. Genasci said: “They are concerned about their health and safety of themselves, their families, the students. That’s not the only thing they’re concerned about ... there’s a lot of concern about the educational soundness of what we’re doing right now. Because we have so few students in our class.”

The Dec. 28 school board meeting, held via videoconference, was livestreamed and recorded and may be viewed online at:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adminojaiusdorg 
and on Facebook at:
  https://www.facebook.com/ojaiusd.org

The emergency Dec. 3 school board meeting can be viewed at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJpkzkVQJg0

 

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A PowerPoint slide presented to the school board on Dec. 28 regarding known COVID-19 cases of OUSD students and staff members.

 

01 08 OUSD Blueprint Metrics by Zip Code Week Ending December 26th 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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