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February 27, 2021

School leaders set to discuss return to classroom

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—School district superintendents from 11 districts throughout Santa Cruz County will hold a town hall meeting Thursday to talk about bringing younger students back into the classroom.

The discussion, led by Dr. Steven McGee of Dignity Health and Dr. Nanette Mickiewicz of Dominican Hospital, will be the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began that educational leaders will discuss in earnest a plan for return to in-person instruction.

The town hall meeting will be held virtually from 5-6:30pm. To register visit sccoe.link/back2classroom.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez says that, while the high case rates won’t allow students to come back in March—as was being considered—the district can begin a phased-in return to begin after spring break, which ends April 2.

All students will start with a ‘hybrid’ model, a combination of in-person and at-home learning.

This will require all teachers to receive at least their first vaccine doses, and schools to establish safety protocol at all schools. This includes purchase of personal protective equipment, making ventilation upgrades on ventilation systems and windows and purchase of hand sanitizer stations.

The district has also purchased three-sided barriers for student desks.

In an email sent Monday to PVUSD teachers, Rodriguez said that the district is considering an opt-in model for both students and teachers, so that those uncomfortable with in-person instruction may be able to continue their school year at home.

Teachers and students can find a survey-due Tuesday at 6pm-to submit their preference. Click here for the survey.

Rodriguez says that the district has already implemented seven “safe spaces” locations, as well 10 special education groups, three elementary general education groups and three secondary general education cohorts, all of which has allowed the district to refine the protocols which will be used for in-person instruction.

“Despite the hardship and uncertainty of these times and regardless of our individual circumstance, our community has come together to support our students and each other,” Rodriguez said. “Please know that we all want to see our students back in the classroom when it is safe to do so.”

In order for middle-school students to return, the county would have to dip back into the red tier, meaning a case rate of between 4-7 new cases for every 100,000.

As of Monday afternoon, the county’s case rate was 12.2, according to state data.

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