MVUSD votes to offer hybrid learning model to students in November, January

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During a teleconference meeting of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board of Education Thursday, Oct. 8, district staff presented a plan to bring students to school campuses in the near future with hybrid learning models for elementary and secondary schools. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

The Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board of Education ultimately unanimously approved the district staff’s proposal to reopen school campuses to students with a hybrid learning model in addition to a virtual learning model. 

With a 5-0 vote, the board now moves forward with a plan in which families will have the option of choosing between the two learning models. 

The board received 135 letters from members of the community regarding the issue and though they didn’t hear all of the comments submitted for the meeting, most were posted for the public to read on the district’s website and provided to board members beforehand, and there were arguments for both sides of the issue. 

As it stands, students in grades transitional kindergarten (TK) and fifth grade can begin returning to campuses on Nov. 16 and middle and high schoolers would come back on Jan. 11, 2021. 

Superintendent Patrick Kelley opened the presentation of the district’s new in-person instruction models for the 2020-21 school year and passed it off to Faythe Mutchnick, MVUSD’s Executive Director of Elementary Instruction. 

She gave a presentation on the hybrid model proposal and said half of the students will be on campus for in-person learning in the morning and the other half will attend in the afternoon from Tuesday through Friday. 

She said students will stay in the same classroom with the same students in the cohort model, face coverings are mandatory for grades 3 and higher, and strongly encouraged for students in TK through grade 2. 

Mutchnick said social distancing is required for students, there will be plexiglass shields at each desk, there will be modified recesses and breaks, and weekly meal programs will continue and will be available for pickup. 

She said the sharing of materials or supplies will be limited and independent work will be assigned to all students when they are not in-person on campus.

During registration from Oct. 14-23, families will be given a choice of either the virtual learning or hybrid learning model. 

Mutchnick said teacher assignments may change based on staffing and family registration for virtual or hybrid models, and importantly, if virtual learning is selected, those students will be committed to staying in that model for the rest of the school year.

For families that choose the hybrid model with more than one student in the same school, those students will be placed in the same session, either morning or afternoon. 

Students who utilize before and after school childcare will be contacted about modified plans when they are available. Busses will be available for students in need of transportation. 

For secondary school aged students, grades 6 through 12, virtual learning will continue for the remainder of first semester in order to avoid detrimental impacts to student credits, graduation status, and A through G requirements, according to Jennifer Schriver, MVUSD’s Executive Director of Secondary Education.

Only students targeted for instruction and support will be participating in in-person services. The tutoring service, Paper, will be available for students all day every day. Face coverings are mandatory for all students and staff with social distancing in place and plexiglass at desks and workstations. 

The second-semester plan includes a hybrid in-person and virtual schedule. 

According to Schriver in the hybrid model, each student will have six or seven different classes two days per week and will work independently the other three days of the week. 

While on campus and transitioning between classes, sanitization will be required and teachers and class schedules will be changing significantly. 

Like with elementary, families will have to decide whether to join the hybrid model or continue with virtual learning and those choices will be permanent for the remainder of this school year. 

They are planning on holding registration sometime around Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, according to Schriver. 

For students choosing virtual learning, there will be limited choices of elective classes. That means those students could not participate in CTE, drama, choir, band, and ASB classes. 

Hybrid model students will attend school on days that coincide with the classes they have chosen. The district’s athletics department is working with the California Department of Public Health and CIF to determine permissible activities during this time. 

The presentation covered protective measures, such as hand sanitizer stations throughout the school district, portable hand washing stations in common areas throughout the campuses and on playgrounds, as well as desk shields installed on desks that are spaced to six feet. 

All campuses will have water bottle fillers, hand washing stations inside classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and sanitizing surface cleaner. 

As far as personal protective equipment that the district has, they have obtained 3,000 washable cloth face coverings, 200,000 adult and 100,000 child-sized disposable face coverings, 80,000 NK95 and 10,000 N95 face coverings, 3,000 adult plastic face shields, 6,000 child-size plastic face shields, 18,000 desk shields, 2,000 plexiglass shields for teachers desks, and a significant supply of gloves. 

Staff members will have to do a self-screen and take their own temperature before coming to work and report the results when they arrive. Parents are asked to screen their children each day before school and provide two local emergency contacts. 

Face coverings will be required at all district sites and schools.

Classrooms will be disinfected between hybrid in-person sessions, specifically high contact areas in classrooms such as doorknobs, panic bars, door handles, tables, student desk, student chairs, desk shields, equipment, devices, sinks, and dispensers. Common areas throughout each campus will be cleaned throughout the day. 

Student restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized every hour once students arrive on campus and will be serviced and sanitized between sessions. Trash cans will be emptied, dispensers restocked and the floors will be swept and mopped. 

The district will continue to participate in the USDA program and will provide weekly meal packs of five breakfasts and five lunches which will be distributed every Thursday at all school sites. Each enrolled student can have one meal pack per week through the end of December. 

With busing, staff members have undergone extensive training on cleaning and sanitizing buses, which will take place throughout the day and at the end of the day. 

Students will have an assigned seat and siblings from the same household will be seated together. Students who forget to bring their face coverings will be provided one by the bus driver, who will also be wearing appropriate PPE. 

Staff also covered the processes for positive COVID-19 cases at each school site which includes communication, contact tracing, quarantining, and cleaning, and outlined the district’s reporting procedure. 

When it comes to the closure of a school site due to COVID-19 exposure, staff reported that if one staff or student at a school or district site tests positive for COVID-19, a classroom may need to shift to virtual learning.

If a school or district site experiences a 5% positivity COVID-19 rate, a school may need to shift to virtual learning, and if 25% or more of district schools close due to positive COVID-19 cases, all district schools may need to shift to virtual learning.

To read the full presentation by MVUSD staff, visit https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=230&MeetingID=80500&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False and click on the “Return to In-Person Instruction Presentation” attachment under Item C6 on the agenda. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com