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2020-21

February 26, 2021

(**Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.)
   
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
In honor of Black History Month, the Sequoia Union High School District salutes and recognizes our staff-driven Equity & Diversity Advisory Council's work ​on their effort​s to promote inclusion and diversity within our district. Their work makes us better ​and advances our shared districtwide equity goal, and truly helps us ​to live up to the dream shared by Dr. Martin Luther King. In the spirit of celebration, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the Carlmont High School Choir presentation in honoring Black History Month.
 
Please continue reading for the latest updates on the following items:
 
  • Reopening plan update
  • Return to in-person instruction
  • Vaccinations
  • COVID-19 Superintendent Office Hours

Reopening Plan Update
 
Although SUHSD submitted our Reopening Plan in December 2020, new regulations issued in January 2021 require SUHSD to amend the plan prior to approval. 
 
SUHSD has been working with the San Mateo County Office Of Education throughout this process, and we expect to resubmit the plan in the first week of March.
 
Return to In-person Instruction
 
After extensive work and planning for the last several months, the District and Sequoia District Teachers Association have reached a memorandum of understanding for a return to in-person instruction on April 5, 2021. The agreement is in the ratification process and is scheduled for board approval on March 10th. 
 
Through our recently announced concurrent learning model, students will have the opportunity to return to in-person instruction or remain fully in distance learning. The timelines, schedules, and processes for our return to campuses will follow in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned. 
 
Vaccinations
 
The San Mateo County Office of Education in collaboration with San Mateo County Superintendents developed a prioritization and logistics plan for school employees. The stages of this prioritization process is as follows:
 
Priority 1A: All in-person special education teachers and instructional aides.
Priority 1B: All teaching and support staff currently in-person interacting regularly with students and their families.
Priority 2: All staff reporting in-person at sites or district facilities who do not interact with students, but who interact with the public. 
Priority 3: All teaching and support staff who are currently working remotely.
 
The vaccination process started February 24, 2021.
 
COVID-19 Superintendent Office Hours
 
Last night, I hosted my first COVID-19 Superintendent Office Hours with over 250 parents and community members in attendance. Our community was able to learn about the latest COVID-19 updates and receive answers to over 100 questions. If you were not able to attend, the presentation and the answers to all of the questions will be available on our website by the end of next week. 
 
I want to thank our community for their continued interest and engagement during this process. The next COVID-19 Superintendent’s Office Hours will be hosted in Spanish, and I will continue to host office hours throughout the end of the semester, as listed below:
 
March 3, 2021 at 7:00pm (Spanish)
March 4, 2021 at 6:00pm (English)
March 18, 2021 at 6:00pm (English)
April 7, 2021 at 7:00pm (Spanish) 
April 8, 2021 at 6:00pm (English)
April 29, 2021 at 6:00pm (English)
May 19, 2021 at 7:00pm (Spanish) 
May 20, 2021 at 6:00pm (English)
 
Please continue to do your part to support the health and safely of our community.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

January 29, 2021

(*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.)
   
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
Thank you for your continued attention to the ongoing developments at the Sequoia Union High School District. Please take a moment to read the latest updates.
 
Reopening Plan Update
 
Although some neighboring public school districts have announced that they will not reopen their high schools for the remainder of the year, SUHSD is continuing to move forward with the re-opening plan submitted to the county.
 
The following criteria must be met, prior to returning to in-person instruction: 
 
  • San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) must approve the SUHSD plan that was submitted in December 2020. This week, SMCOE shared that they have reviewed our plan and would like to schedule a time to discuss the State's most recent updates prior to approval.
 
 
  • Labor agreements must be in place to address the changes in working conditions caused by the pandemic. These negotiations are in process and we hope to conclude in the coming weeks. 
 
  • Every line item in our School Readiness Dashboard must be completed. You can track the progress by visiting our Dashboard webpage
 
Instructional Model
 
When we are able to return to in-person instruction, SUHSD has chosen to adopt a concurrent learning model, known by many as “zoomers and roomers”. 
 
The Concurrent Instructional Model is defined as an instructional model available through the school of enrollment in which distance learning platforms are maintained and remain the primary mode of instruction. All students remain with their teacher/s of record. Students at home and in school will be learning synchronously through distance learning platforms except on designated asynchronous days. 
 
The maximum number of students in an in-person class is contingent upon the dimensions and/or design of the particular classroom and the extent to which all inhabitants of the classroom can maintain social distancing (six (6) feet).
 
A teacher’s class may have students that experience 100% distance learning five days a week as well as students who attend school for a predetermined number of days a week, based on teacher and room availability. The number of students in classrooms will be determined by the size of the room and maintaining social distancing and appropriate ventilation guidelines. In-person instruction will not be offered in indoor settings that have not been identified as meeting or exceeding the minimum ventilation standards established by the District.
 
The Concurrent Instructional Model is a partial return to on-site instruction. The number of days and class periods of instruction on-site for an individual student will be determined by the following factors:
 
●    the availability of teachers,
●    the availability and capacity of classrooms; and
●    the number of students requesting to participate in the Concurrent Instructional Model.
 
More information will follow in the coming weeks.
 
New Government Regulations
 
On January 14, 2021, California state officials released new guidance and reporting requirements, which all schools and districts, including Sequoia, will need to address. These include the completion of a COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist and COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP). Below is a summary of the new COVID-19 Safety Plan Review Process:
 
 
SUHSD has completed the COVID-19 Prevention Program requirement and is near completion of the COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist and Return to In-person Learning Plan. 
 
Health & Wellness
 
SUHSD recognizes that the effects of the pandemic have severely disrupted and impacted us all in several ways. Many in our community have lost loved ones, they have lost jobs, and they have lost their way of life. COVID has taken a toll on our students, staff, and their families, and I want to remind our community that if your student is experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression, please reach out to your school site. We have counselors, mental health support staff, and community partners that are available for you. For more information, please visit our Student Health & Wellness Resources webpage. 
 
Lastly, as a reminder, the most significant action that can be taken to support school reopenings is achieved by wearing a mask, social distancing, reducing indoor congregate settings, and identifying symptoms early for treatment. Together, we can provide a safe path back to school.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

January 15, 2021

*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.
 
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
Happy New Year!! I hope each of you enjoyed a restful and meaningful winter break. As we continue to prepare for the eventual re-opening of our schools for in-person instruction, I want to welcome you back with a summary of the latest COVID-19 updates: 
New Schools For All Reopen Plan   
 
Governor Newsom announced the development of a Safe School for All Plan to help guide school districts to a safe return to in-person instruction. The plan consists of the following four pillars: 
 
  • Funding: a one-time funding grant that will provide approximately $450 per student to districts offering in-person instruction. 
  • Safety & Mitigation: the administration will focus on the implementation of measures such as PPE, testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations. 
  • Oversight & Assistance: a team designated to support school districts in implementing their COVID-19 safety plans. 
  • Transparency & Accountability: a state dashboard that will allow residents to track their district’s reopening status, level of available funding, and data on in-school transmissions. 
 
Although this plan provides temporary hope of some financial relief, it is, again, targeting TK-2nd grade students and provides no clear guidance for secondary schools at this time. Furthermore, some of the new requirements and metrics set forth regarding testing will exasperate the existing requirements. 
 
SUHSD Reopen Plan Update
 
As previously shared, we are the first high school district in San Mateo County to submit a reopening plan. As a result, the San Mateo County Office of Education has asked for more time to review and has not yet given our district an approval.  
 
Additionally, the California Department of Public Health is also updating the health guidance for the entire school industry and SUHSD will need to update its reopening plan with all, and any, new guidelines before final approval. 
 
Vaccinations 
 
There is a lot of inquiry about vaccinations, their availability, and how that will impact our ability to return for in-person instruction. Currently, we have confirmation that educators are included in the Phase 1 rollout plan and are in group 1B, the group that follows the first responders and high-risk health workers. We don’t have any information on when the vaccines will be available or how many will be allocated to our district.  
 
Athletics 
 
A few days ago, our Student Services department provided information regarding our plan to restart district athletics. If you missed that communication, you can read it by clicking here
 
Sincerely,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent
 

December 17, 2020

*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.
 
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
As we close the semester and enter the holiday break, I want to share a moment of reflection and admiration for our school community. Although this holiday season has been like no other, our students and staff have continued in the spirit of giving and serving others with food, clothing, and toy drives. Their selflessness and urgency to help those who are less fortunate truly represent the SUHSD way, and it fills me with great pride to serve along with such a great community.
 
I also reflect on the many individuals who make up our school community and allow it to thrive. I am grateful to our staff and faculty for their commitment to providing our students with an exceptional education despite the disruption caused by the pandemic. I am grateful to our students for their flexibility, resilience, and attentiveness to learning. And I am also grateful to each parent for the support they provide to students and our schools. 
 
It is now time to take a well-deserved break. I hope you get the chance to relax and spend time to reflect on the people and moments that have enriched your life and brought joy during these challenging times.
 
From my family to yours, I wish you a peaceful and safe holiday. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

December 11, 2020

(*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.)
    
Dear SUHSD Community,

This week, the Board of Trustees with district and school site leadership met to discuss school site operations, second-semester learning models, and the parent survey results. If you were unable to attend, we have included a summary presentation for your reference. This presentation will also be available on our website with other COVID-19 related updates. 

Last week, I provided you with an update on our Reopening Plan, and shared that we submitted our plan to the San Mateo County Office of Education. The plan submitted is required by the County Office of Education in collaboration with San Mateo County Health for districts to incrementally open for in-person instruction for all tier colors, except for purple. As a reminder, the plan requires the district to address the following: 

  • Cleaning & Disinfection
  • Cohorting, Entrance & Egress 
  • Face Coverings
  • Health Screenings
  • Hygiene Practices
  • Contact Tracing
  •  Physical Distancing 
  • Staff & Family Education 
  • COVID Testing Staff/Students 
  • Triggers for Transitioning to Distance Learning
  • Communication Plan

The Sequoia Union High School District is the first public high school district in San Mateo County to submit a plan for county-level review. The plan is a working document and will be updated and amended as we are able to further define key components of instruction and health and safety measures. 

Thank you for your continued attention.

Best,

Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

December 04, 2020

*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.
 
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
As a result of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, San Mateo County has moved into the state's most restrictive Purple Tier. Our district is still moving forward with our goal to continue gradually increasing the number of students on campus through the Spring semester. We submitted our Reopening Plan to the San Mateo County Office of Education to prepare for the reopening of our schools for in-person instruction. To access the plan or our Reopening Readiness Dashboard, please visit our COVID-19 Updates webpage. 
 
Thank you for your partnership and feedback provided through our recent survey. The information collected will guide our plans as we develop various learning models to support our high-quality instruction. We urge you to complete the survey if you haven't already done so, the deadline is today. Thank you again for your participation. We will be sending another survey in January to gather feedback about the different learning model proposals. 
 
Given the COVID-19 pandemic's current fluidity, the District will begin the Spring semester (January 4th) under our current Distance Learning Model. Although we will begin the second semester in that model, our goal is to continue to increase the number of students on campus for instructional support, clubs, and activities in a safe manner. 
 
As a parent, I completely understand the stress that so many of our students and their families face daily as a result of the pandemic. For that reason, we are focusing on further addressing our students' social-emotional needs as soon as possible. 
 
I want to remind you that if we all do our part to adhere to the public health guidelines, we will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and put ourselves in the best position to return. 
 
Stay safe,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

November 20, 2020

(*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.)
    
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
We continue moving towards our goal to gradually increase the number of students on campus through the Spring semester. The Sequoia Union High School District is completing our plan to open for In-Person Instruction in the Spring of 2021. We will be submitting our reopening plan to the San Mateo County Office of Education by no later than December 4, 2020.
 
The district is evaluating different instructional models for in-person learning. The District would like to better understand student and parent interest regarding a physical return to school to access instruction and other activities. We encourage parents to discuss and respond to this survey with their student(s) as we know that sometimes parent’s responses can differ from their teens.
 
Earlier this week, San Mateo County moved from the Orange Tier (moderate) back to the Red Tier (substantial) due to the increasing cases of COVID-19. As we continue moving forward, it is important to remember that our plans are contingent on current health conditions, not deteriorating. However, in all likelihood, as we see in neighboring counties, San Mateo County is projected to slip into the purple tier eventually. If that does occur, we will not be able to implement our reopening plan.
 
Thank you for continuing to work with us through these unprecedented times.

Respectfully,
 
Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

November 13, 2020

 
(*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui)
 
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Community:
 
I want to take a moment to check-in and update you on where we are today.
 
Our goal is to continue gradually increasing the number of students on campus through the Spring semester. We will begin to offer club and small group activities in the next few weeks. In my November 6th, 2020 parent communication, I provided a list of requirements to execute on a plan for the Spring semester. Our plan is to increase the level of in-person academic experiences for all students and provide the appropriate level of support based on individual student needs within the context of appropriate level protocols. 
 
If you have not read last week's communication, please visit our website at www.seq.org  to review the requirements. Please remember that our plan is contingent on local health conditions not deteriorating.
 
As we approach the holiday season, many of you may consider traveling or gathering with family or friends. Please visit our webpage to view the travel guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

November 6, 2020

(*Para leer este mensaje en Español, haga clic aqui.)
 
Dear Sequoia Union High School District Families and Community: 
 
As we approach the end of the week, I want to take a moment to check-in to provide you with an update on our planning process with respect to the potential partial reopening of our school sites.
 
In my October 16, 2020 parent communication, I provided a list of requirements to execute on a plan for the Spring semester to increase the level of in-person academic experiences for all students and provide the appropriate level of support based on individual student needs within the context of appropriate health protocols.  
 
Given the complexity of the plan and the need for openness and transparency, one of our immediate goals is to provide our families with a dashboard that will share and track the progress of each of the elements listed below as well as allow parents and students to monitor when a requirement is met. The completion of these requirements are prerequisites for our plan. Here is our current status:
 
Academic Experience
  • Quality and Rigorous Instruction: We are analyzing students’ grades and the additional support needed for equitable and accessible instruction.
  • Effective Simultaneous In-Person and Virtual Instruction: We are creating mock-up classrooms to demonstrate this model.
  • Modification of Teaching Environment: We are collaborating with teachers on how to best support students and this new academic experience.
 
 
Facility Requirements
  • Student Capacity per Site: We are building a new scheduling model, based on both health protocols and staff input, to determine the appropriate student capacity at each school.
  • Classroom Capacity: We have determined that, with social distancing requirements, our classrooms can hold an average of 10-12 students.
  • Modifying Entrances, Egresses, and Movement Patterns: We are currently testing new patterns with our existing smaller cohort in anticipation of a larger scale up.
 
 
Health Protocols
  • Physical Distancing: All sites have been audited to determine capacity, and social distancing decals and signage have been placed throughout our campuses and office.
  • Student/Staff Health Screening and Testing: All sites currently have a daily screening protocol for all students and staff, and we are finalizing a testing protocol for employees.
  • Contact Tracing: We are currently testing tracing protocols with our existing smaller cohort, however our experience so far has indicated that there is significant staff time required to execute the protocol properly and hence school sites may require additional resources to do this at scale.
 
 
Other Elements
  • Staff/Family Education on Enforcement: We are currently testing enforcement protocols and health and safety education with our existing smaller cohort in academic, athletic, extracurricular, and other settings.
  • Triggers for Transition back to Distance Learning: We will be following the Pandemic Recovery Framework from the San Mateo County Office of Education that outlines certain actions, up to and including a site shutdown, if the level of confirmed cases reaches certain rates within a school community.
 
I want to assure our community that our labor groups, site administration, in collaboration with the San Mateo County Office of Education, are working hand-in-hand to problem solve, troubleshoot, and pave the pathway for a new model for our schools and our students. Our reopening plan will be submitted to the county in the upcoming month. 
 
Our team is also working tirelessly to ensure we maintain the quality of our current virtual instruction while we seek to increase the number of students who receive support on campus. The challenges we face may be complex, but our tenacity and determination are relentless.
 
A parent survey is underway and will arrive in your inbox in the next couple of weeks. We recognize that it is important to allow and encourage parents to share feedback and input as we continue our planning efforts. Please visit our website at www.seq.org for the most current information on our new learning models as well as COVID-19 resources. 
 
I will continue to send you regular communication on our progress. Thank you for your continued support.

Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent

October 16, 2020

(*Para leer este mensaje en Español haga clic aqui).
 
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 you for your patience and support.

Sincerely,

Crystal Leach
Interim Superintendent