Reopening Update: How are things going 8 weeks in?
On July 19th, WCCUSD published a Return 2 School Fall Reopening Plan. This plan detailed what students, families, and staff could expect in the areas of:
- Instructional Core/Social Emotional/Technology
- Operations (which includes health and safety)
- Stakeholder Engagement/Communications
Many of the items were identified as key priorities for a “restorative start” in the first six weeks of school. We are now two months into the new academic year and it is time to check in on where we are.
1. Center Relationships – Create dedicated time and space during the day for relationship building for students and staff ● Implement positive and restorative discipline practices, and 5. Reimagine & Rebuild Systems – 6-Week focus on Culture and Climate
The expectation is that all students receive 30 minutes of social emotional instruction a week and 10 minutes of relationship building a day. In elementary school this often occurs during morning circle; in secondary school this is during a homeroom or advisory block. While schools are currently self-reporting adherence to this expectation, a survey is being designed to distribute to students to better understand the experience across our classrooms.
The curriculum used for this dedicated time is a work in progress. Prior to this year, some schools had adopted a formal social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum while others had not. Site licenses were purchased this fall for three SEL programs (Sanford Harmony, School-Connect, and 2nd Step) and some sites have individually purchased Caring School Communities. Training and rollout are still underway.
The district is also implementing a Universal Screener for SEL that will be administered in November. This screener will explore students’ SEL skills, feelings, relationships, school environment, and well-being. Screener results are used with other information to support students academically and personally.
Staff training continues with an outside consultant, Millie Burns, in the areas of Restorative Justice and PBIS.
2. Address Whole Child Needs – Diagnostic assessments that offer teachers and school leaders sufficient information to guide instructional planning ● Creating action plans that meet the individual (whole child) needs of every student
Basic academic assessments using STAR wrapped up October 1st for elementary schools and October 8th for secondary schools. STAR assessments are short tests that provide teachers with learning data. STAR tests are computer adaptive, which means they adjust to each answer a child provides. Student data from these tests is available to school staff on the dashboard from the company. Currently, there is no parent portal to be able to view this information.
Data will soon be uploaded into a new central system called Hoonuit. This system will be available in January and will serve as a place where all data can be housed together. Data can then be reviewed by district and school leaders as well as site staff. The intent is that data-reporting will happen more frequently to better understand the needs of students across the system.
3. Strengthening Staffing and Partnerships – Pair students with high dosage tutoring and mentoring ● Provide mental health supports ● Expand learning opportunities
With staffing shortages across the district, plans to globally offer additional services are slow to rollout. However, there are some exceptions. For example, four schools (Shannon, Lincoln, Ohlone, and King) are part of a program titled CCEIS. This program serves focal students by creating individual learning plans and offering intensive academic and behavioral supports. Additionally, BACR and Seneca are offering mental health services to identified students.
There is work to be done to establish Community School leads at all schools to ensure that there is a clear process to identify students with needs and then create the appropriate plan to meet those needs. CARE and/or SST teams, while in place at some schools, are not yet standard at all sites. This structure is fundamental to streamlining and aligning services and identifying and meeting student needs. This is vital to truly realize the district’s vision of running Full Service Community Schools (FSCS).
A district Crisis Intervention Team is being constructed (as named in the 10/13 board study session) to offer a district-level “circle of care”. This team will support schools who have exhausted site-based supports and interventions and serve to help students achieve success at their school site.
4. Relevant and Rigorous Teaching – Use high-quality and culturally relevant curriculum ● Strategies and tools for addressing racism, privilege and bias in the classrooms ● Offer students choice and voice in their learning ● Reduced Class Sizes ● Increased Counselors
The current math curriculum has been identified as an opportunity for improvement. It is not considered highly rigorous nor engaging by many sites. Work is starting to identify a better option.
The reduction in class size created 120 additional teaching positions across the district. This, paired with typical teacher turnover and a nationwide shortage of teachers, has led to a number of classroom vacancies across the district. To prioritize students’ core classrooms, prep teachers and teachers on special assignments have all returned to core classrooms. There are still additional vacancies that are being filled by rotating substitutes (often full-time teachers filling in during an open period). This means that teachers do not have time to prepare for teaching during the workday, creating a potential impact on morale and sustainability.
Counselors have increased at school sites. The job description of counselors is being revised to prioritize time with students. Additionally, roles have been differentiated at sites to create a lead counselor in addition to traditional counselors. Counselors are supporting students with both academic and social emotional needs.
Elementary Student Report Cards
Similar to last year, elementary students will receive narrative report cards that share progress to date. Added to the report card will be the STAR assessment results from earlier in the year. This will add some quantitative data to the student reporting process.
The district is looking to revamp the elementary report card next year. This will be done by a committee of educators.
Family and Community Engagement – Home Visits ● Phone Calls/Texts ● Family Nights
Schools have completed their annual Back-to-School Night events held virtually throughout August and September.
Home visits, personalized phone calls/texts, and family nights (beyond Back-to-School Night) are inconsistent across, as well as within, school sites. There is no uniform family experience or expectation for what should be true for all families.
Like many districts across the state, WCCUSD is experiencing a high level of chronic absenteeism.
School Site Cleanliness
District leaders believe that there are adequate custodial staff to maintain the required standards of hygiene for school facilities. If individuals experience a lack of adherence to cleanliness standards please engage your site leader. If there is not a response, please contact the anonymous district hotline to report concerns at (510)965-4443.
The district is in the process of rectifying an issue with a shortage of PPE, in particular masks for younger students.