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Superintendent

“Our students are creative thinkers and problem-solvers and are prepared to become responsible, ethical, and productive citizens.”

August 6, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians:

With our first day of school rapidly approaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with a summary of the many pieces of information that have been provided to our families over the past few weeks, as well as to offer a bit more clarity regarding some questions that have arisen as we move closer to Monday’s start.

Thank you to the many parents who attended our Town Hall on Wednesday night. We appreciate your thoughtful questions and hope the open Q&A format provided you with some good answers. If you were unable to attend, here is a link to the recording. All recorded meetings can also be found on our website

Indoor Masking

As a reminder, all individuals in all indoor spaces on our campuses, including classrooms and offices, are required to wear a face covering at all times, regardless of vaccination status. The public health guidance is fully aligned and very clear on this matter. 

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends "universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status" as a means to promote a full return to in-person instruction. 
  • The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) mandates universal masking for all indoor school settings, subject to exemptions for which other precautions would apply.  Again, the foundational principle for this mandate is that all students must have access to safe and full in-person instruction and to as much instructional time as possible. 
  • Our local health agency, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), has implemented a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor public spaces "such as businesses, classrooms and offices" to "protect public health and prevent our county’s hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19." 
  • Universal masking in schools is also supported by recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

COVID-19 Protocols

  • “Stay Home When Sick” 
    • If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please keep them home (they will be sent home if at school). Your child should not return to school until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medications and symptoms have improved, AND they have either taken a negative COVID-19 test OR they have a note from a healthcare provider stating either that their symptoms are a result of another condition (i.e. asthma) or confirming a different diagnosis. 
  • Positive Case in Classroom
    • If there is a positive COVID-19 case in a classroom, the positive case will isolate at home for 10 days, and will not be permitted to return to school until the end of the isolation period, assuming symptoms have improved. A negative test later in the 10 day period does not release the student from quarantine. The classroom teacher will determine the best method for the student to access work from home, if symptoms permit.
    • The entire class will be notified about the positive case, but the student will not be named. 
    • Any “close contact” to the positive case will be contacted to let them know that they should begin a “modified quarantine” (described below) due to their close contact. It is likely that every student in the classroom will be considered a close contact; this determination will be made by CCHS.
      • Modified Quarantine permits the close contact students who were masked in a classroom setting to continue to attend school for in-person instruction under the following circumstances:
        • They must continue to be asymptomatic
        • They continue to mask as required
        • They undergo at least twice-weekly testing during the 10 day quarantine period
        • They quarantine (cannot attend) all extracurricular activities at school, including sports
      • Modified quarantine will end after Day 10 from the date of the last exposure without testing, or after Day 7 if a negative test was taken after Day 5.
  • If your student has a non-classroom close contact, or if they were unmasked during the close contact, the modified quarantine rules above would not apply. Please contact your school’s principal if you believe this situation applies to your child and they can provide you with specific instructions.

Hand Hygiene and Facility Cleaning

Hand hygiene is a large part of our layered mitigation strategy and is part of the new CDPH guidance. All classrooms are equipped with soap and paper towels, as well as hand sanitizer, and teachers will make time to ensure that proper hand hygiene is taught and followed.

As we discussed in the Town Hall, the new CDPH schools guidance discourages frequent disinfecting of school spaces. In order to comply with the guidance and still keep our campuses as safe as possible, our custodial teams will be performing regular daily cleaning of all areas, with the following additions: bathrooms and high-touch surfaces will be sanitized daily, and the entire campus will be disinfected/sanitized on Friday afternoons. In the event of a COVID-19 case on campus, the classroom/office and any other space where the positive case spent time will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

COVID-19 Testing

Free COVID-19 testing will again be available for families and staff in our District. Testing will be offered twice a week. For this week only, tests will be offered on Tuesday, August 10 at Stanley Middle School, and Thursday, August 12 at Burton Valley Elementary School. For all following weeks, the tests will be at Stanley on Mondays and at Burton Valley on Thursdays. Both locations will offer testing between 7:30 am - 4:00 pm. Details about the testing, including sign-up links, will be sent in a separate email today.

You can also sign up to be tested at one of Contra Costa County’s many test sites. More information can be found here

Ventilation

In the new CDPH guidance, ventilation continues to be a high priority. The District is committed to pursuing best practices, including access to both fresh air and the appropriate number of air changes per hour, the highest possible filter ratings in our HVAC units in each classroom, regular monitoring of CO2 levels, and the placement of needlepoint bipolar ionization units in each classroom. In addition, when warranted, HEPA filters will be present in our classrooms as an extra layer of protection.

We have received questions about the ionizers in our classrooms. We can confirm that every unit is UL2998 compliant and thus rated for “zero ozone” production. We are also pleased to report that the manufacturer has continued a rigorous testing program to ensure that the units have a positive effect on reducing the potential of a virus in the air, and no negative effects. These units also have a very positive effect on indoor air quality during periods of poor outdoors air quality, from smoke or other weather factors. 

Parents on Campus

Our priority is the well-being of our students and our staff, especially in these first weeks back after a challenging year. We are allowing parent volunteers on campus for specific purposes (lunch service, traffic control, library), and they must attest to and provide proof of their vaccination status and fill out screening questions regarding COVID-19. We will review the policy regularly and hope that we are able to loosen it with time, but with the rise of the Delta variant and the uncertainty that many constituents are still feeling, we want to keep our community to a smaller footprint for now.

Lunch

For the 2021-2022 school year, the District will continue utilizing its current food service program, and also will be providing a nutritious lunch every day to qualifying students in compliance with Education Code Section 49550. At any time during the school year, you can see if your child qualifies for a free or reduced price lunch by filling out an application

Outdoor Classrooms

We look forward to having outdoor spaces where students can work with their teachers without masks under the current guidance, and we are outfitting the spaces with the basic tools that will allow instruction to continue effectively. While not all curriculum lends itself to these spaces, they will allow our students to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery during certain classroom instruction. Your principal will have more information about these outdoor spaces and how they will be used at your school site. 

How to Reach Us

We continue to focus on providing you with relevant and timely information. Here are some ways to reach us with any questions you may have:

  • Your first contact is usually to email your site principal, who will know the specific information that applies to your student’s campus. 
  • You can also email the District directly, at superintendent@lafsd.org or for COVID-19-specific questions, at covid19support@lafsd.org
  • Attend our board meetings: our next regular school board meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on August 18 in the Stanley Middle School Library, and we have a special session on “strategy and innovation” with the Governing Board and cabinet convening on August 23 from 3 to 5 pm with the location to be determined. Both meetings will also be streamed live. Note that you must attend in person in order to make public comment.

We commit to continued parent communication and will work on both District-wide and school-based opportunities to connect with the parent community as we enter the 2021-22 school year.

I hope you and your family have a smooth start on Monday, and I look forward to a safe and successful year. 

Best wishes,

Richard Whitmore

Richard Whitmore

May 27, 2021 End of Year

April 14, 2021 Stanley Update

April 2, 2021 Update

March 23, 2021 Update

March 19, 2021 Support for APPI

March 9, 2021 Update

February 26, 2021 Update

February 22, 2021 Update

February 1, 2021 Update

January 20, 2021 Update

January 8, 2021 Update

December 18, 2020 Reminders

December 10, 2020 Update

November 20, 2020 Update

October 9, 2020 Update

September 25, 2020  Update

September 16, 2020 School Operations and Public Health Guidance

August 28, 2020 Update / Survey

July 31, 2020  Update

July 16, 2020 Distance Learning

June 30, 2020 Update

June 11, 2020 School Reopening Study Session

May 26, 2020 Update from Superintendent

April 29, 2020 Update on Governor's thoughts in reopening schools

April 21, 2020 Superintendent Message

April 8, 2020 County Direction for Distance Learning

April 7, 2020 Distance Learning Update

April 3, 2020 Update

April 1, 2020 State Superintendent Thurmond Message

March 27, 2020 Update

March 25, 2020 School Closure Extension

March 20, 2020 Closure and Learning

March 13, 2020 School Closure

March 10, 2020

March 6, 2020

February 28, 2020