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New School Year Starts with Distance Learning

Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we are working to finalize our plans for the upcoming school year. If you have been following the news, you know that coronavirus cases and deaths are rising rapidly across California and in L.A. County. These conditions prompted the governor Monday to order churches and some businesses that had reopened to close.

While neither the county nor the state have issued new orders for schools, we have serious concerns about the spike in coronavirus cases and the lack of comprehensive testing and contact tracing in our communities, which have some of the highest rates of coronavirus cases in the city. After reviewing the most recent data and consulting with health officials, we do not anticipate conditions will improve in the coming weeks.

That is why Camino Nuevo Charter Academy schools will start the school year with all students on distance learning for at least the first month of school. Other school systems including L.A. Unified and San Diego Unified have announced similar plans.

We will reassess our learning model by September 10 and decide whether to continue exclusively with distance learning or if we can move to a hybrid model that allows for some students and staff to be on campus, following strict health and safety precautions, while also continuing with distance learning.

•    August 10: First Day of Distance Learning Grades K-12
•    August 26: First Day of Distance Learning Preschool
•    September 10: Decision on Adding Option of Hybrid Model

As we navigate this crisis, we are fully committed to providing a quality instructional program while doing our best to ensure the health and safety of our students, families, and staff. For the past eight weeks, a committee made up of network and school leaders as well as teachers has met regularly to discuss how to balance these priorities and safely open schools. The group considered the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students as well as the health and safety risks associated with a full and partial opening of our campuses.

One of the biggest factors that influenced our decision to postpone opening schools was feedback from our community. About half of all the Camino Nuevo parents we surveyed in May told us that they were not comfortable sending their child(ren) to school. Another 30% said they didn’t want their child in school because a close family member at home had a compromised immune system. We are aware that teachers and staff have similar concerns. Given the data, we believe it is best to focus on providing distance learning to all students until the situation improves. I want to thank parents for participating in our survey and the reopening committee for their hard work and thoughtful recommendations.

If state and county health officials deem it is safe for schools to open in September, we are prepared to introduce a hybrid learning model that would allow for students who need in-person instruction to get it. We would follow strict safety protocols such as requiring screenings and face coverings for students and staff, limiting class sizes, keeping children in small groups at recess, and strengthening sanitizing procedures throughout the day. If it is safe, we will provide virtual and on-campus training on these safety measures for staff in August.

The decision to open schools is one I take very seriously. As a parent, I have agonized over the decision to send my own daughter to her preschool. Before deciding to do so, I needed to be certain that her school was prepared and ready to take all the necessary precautions. I hold our schools to the same high standards as my daughter’s school and expect that we will create the safest possible environment before we bring back students and staff—even if it is only a small number who opt in. Our staff, students, and families deserve nothing less.

We will also focus on ensuring that our distance learning program is stronger this year, with more synchronous, real-time instruction and support opportunities for students and staff. That’s why we will start the school year by connecting students to devices, introducing them to our expectations, and getting them excited about a new year of learning. This fall we hope to provide laptops and hotspots to all students who need them, eliminating one of the biggest barriers for distance learning.

I anticipate there are many more questions, and we will continue to share more updates as soon as we have answers. If you have questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your school leadership team.

Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for more updates.

Adriana Abich
Chief Executive Officer