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How Are Local School Districts Preparing for the Opening of a New School Year?


The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD), which was set to open their year-round schools on July 15th, has canceled those plans.  All students will now be on the traditional school calendar, with schools currently slated to open on August 20th.

Extensive planning to reopen safely is ongoing at IUSD and the Orange County Department of Education, with guidance from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Orange County Department of Education guidelines have been released in a document titled Orange County Together: A Guide for Safely Reopening Schools in the COVID-19 Era, which presents a detailed set of criteria intended to safeguard the health of staff and students alike.  The State has also issued guidelines.

So, what will school look like when classes resume?  Will students attend their brick and mortar schools or continue to work online via distance learning?

IUSD conducted a Family & Staff Survey the week of June 15th.  The survey results revealed that 41% of families prefer traditional in-person learning, on campus five days a week.  37% would like a blended/hybrid learning schedule, with students receiving instruction through a combination of on-campus, in-person lessons and online distance learning each week.  The remaining 22% prefer distance learning only.

A second survey was disseminated on June 25th, which was designed for families to carefully evaluate more detailed options and again communicate their preferences.  The IUSD Task Force will review the results of the second survey, consider the options, and submit a final recommendation to the Irvine Unified School Board in early July.  Since the situation remains fluid, updated information will be made available online at iusd.org/2020-21Update1.

How is Tustin Unified School District (TUSD) preparing to reopen schools?  On August 13th, approximately 5,000 Irvine students who attend TUSD schools, which are located in the northern part of Irvine, will begin a new school year.

We reached out to Mark Eliot, Director of Communications and Public Information Officer (PIO) of Tustin Unified School District.  Mr. Eliot shared the results of a survey taken by parents.  The survey showed that most parents want their children to return to traditional school with choice, flexibility, and safety.  The TUSD recognizes that the social-emotional needs of students are a significant factor in reopening schools.  It is widely believed that most students will benefit by returning to school and re-establishing connections with their friends, teachers, school nurses and support staff who are always eager to help out.  However, Mr. Eliot pointed out that the health and safety of students, teachers, school nurses and support staff is the top priority at TUSD.

Two TUSD committees (K-8 and High School) will present a reopening plan to the Tustin School Board in the coming weeks.

For those families interested in an online learning environment for their children, TUSD already has one in place.  Five years ago, TUSD established Tustin Connect School (K-12), a program of online learning.  Superintendent Gregory A. Franklin, Ed.D. states that it is “an exceptional, innovative, collaborative learning community.”  The program is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges, and the University of California.  If you’d like to learn more about the program, call (714) 730-7301, extension 318 or visit the website at www.tustin.k12.ca.us/tustin-connect.

Both IUSD and TUSD plan to align their reopening options with family preferences to the extent possible, while adhering to the California Department of Public Health and Orange County Department of Education guidelines.

Irvine Community News & Views will continue to update our readers on reopening plans for IUSD and TUSD schools.

Resource Links:
California Department of Education’s Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of Public Schools
Orange County Together:  School Reopening Checklist

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