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October 2020

Dear Sequoia Union High School District Families and Community: 
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have navigated through our recent transition in leadership. COVID-19’s impact on our schools has disrupted what we know as the education experience and raises questions about what the education experience will look like while COVID-19 is with us.
In our last communication, we shared the decision to remain in distance learning through the end of 2020. (Click here to read)
This difficult decision is based on a series of factors. Most importantly in September, San Mateo County was categorized in the State’s Purple Tier, meaning that the COVID-19 infection rates were deemed “widespread” throughout the County. This prevented us from  reopening our schools. Because of this and other weighing factors, such as student and staff safety, ventilation system upgrades, testing, and contact tracing, distance learning remained in effect.  
As we continue to move forward, it is critical to remember the implications and effects of COVID-19 in how it impacts instructional and educational programming. With so much discussion regarding what other school districts are attempting to do, it is important for us to remember that every district is different. As a high school district, I can share with you that our neighboring high school districts are facing many of our same challenges. 
To put it into perspective, under the new COVID-19 guidelines, a classroom that would normally hold 30 students can now only hold an average of 6-12 students. Unlike elementary school districts, this challenge is further exacerbated by the complexity of rotating course schedules in high school. In collaboration with our site administration teams and our labor groups, we are working to determine how and when students can safely return to campus without losing the quality of instruction. Academic and social emotional support will continue to be provided.  
A three-week pilot program of student support cohorts will launch next week. These cohorts are intended to create a critical support system for students who are in need of assistance outside of the virtual setting.
Every three weeks we will evaluate, and determine necessary modifications to layer in additional support based on the availability of staff, and other health factors known at that time.
As required by the state, we are submitting a plan that will specify our health guidelines and protocols based upon the following factors and considerations: 
  • Maintaining a quality and rigorous instructional program for all students
  • Capacity of classrooms compared to number of students
  • Number of students on campus compared to teacher availability 
  • Effectiveness of simultaneous instruction for in-person and virtual instruction
  • Labor agreements
  • Cohorts entrances, egress, and movement within the schools
  • Health screenings and testing for students and staff 
  • Contract tracing
  • Physical distancing 
  • Staff and family education on enforcement of the plan
  • Triggers for transition back into distance learning 
  • Communications plan
I am listening to the concerns expressed by our staff and families regarding school reopening and distance learning. I know this is a difficult time and we have a hunger for normalcy. We are creating our new normal, and continuing to deliver the high level of teaching and learning you have come to expect from Sequoia Union High School District. 
I thank your patience and your support.
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent