What will school look like within the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) when classes resume on August 13? The answer remains uncertain, but the outlook is getting clearer…
Starting in April, the District began conducting surveys, video chats, presentations, and meetings to get parents’ and community members’ input on the best way forward. Overall, 6,811 survey responses came in. In the meantime, MUSD has had COVID-19 Task Force Subcommittees at work on intensive future planning.
Come the Fall, we’ll be at a fork in the road. Down one path will be a school year that’s 50% characterized by distance learning. The other path offers a hybrid approach: part in-school learning, part distance learning.
Both avenues hope to eventually make way for total in-school learning, in a return to pre-pandemic conditions.
Regardless, School Board Members announced at their June 23 meeting that the first month of the school year will consist of pure distance learning. Whatever follows will hinge on guidance from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
The eventual return to on-campus learning will be led by evidenced-based health and safety research and data. This will mean limiting the total amounts of students at schools, following prescribed wellness protocols, keeping plenty of masks and hand sanitizer in stock, enforcing social distancing through maps and signage, and more.
In addition, on school campuses, depending on students’ ages and grade levels, varying levels of precaution will be taken. For example, at the elementary school level, students and teachers/staff members will remain in a given room for the whole of each school day, rather than transferring elsewhere or mixing with other classes. This approach is critical since enforcing physical distancing and mask-wearing among this age group is less feasible and predictable. On the other hand, at the middle school and high school levels, students will be spaced six feet apart if possible, or separated by protective barriers. Across all age and grade levels, stable seating will be enforced as opposed to shifting seat assignments, and teachers and staff members will be routinely distanced so as to prevent or minimize adult-to-student viral transmission.
Regarding mask-wearing, Santa Clara County’s requirements state that elementary school students will only be required to wear face coverings during school arrival and departure times, as well as whenever else they are outside the classroom, but not during classroom time. At the middle and high school levels, masks will have to be worn all day. Across all grade levels, teachers and staff members will be required to wear masks all day, as well.
More detailed Santa Clara County guidelines for meeting educational goals amid the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.
Note: This article has been updated.