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October 2 Friday Update: Conditions Needed for WCCUSD To Re-Open School Buildings

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October 2, 2020

Happy Friday WCCUSD community,

Contra Costa County received positive news on Tuesday when the state updated the county’s COVID-19 status, moving the county from the Purple-tier to the Red-tier status related to the number and presence of coronavirus cases.

It was a welcomed change and evidence that physical/social distancing measures do have an effect on slowing and reducing the spread of the virus. The change allows more business, churches and gyms to reopen at a certain capacity, and schools can consider reopening after the county has remained in the Red tier for 14 consecutive days.

For us to return to in-person instruction safely, all District zip codes must be in the Orange tier for 21 consecutive days and all zip codes and the surrounding counties (Alameda, Solano) meet the following conditions:

  • Percent positive cases is 3 percent or lower
  • Less than 10 cases per 100,000 

Contra Costa County currently has a 6.3 case rate per 100,000 and a 3.7% positivity rate. We know the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted WCCUSD communities at a higher and disproportionate rate. In a number of WCCUSD’s communities, the case and positivity rate are much higher with El Sobrante (18 cases per/100,000, 5.6% positivity rate), Richmond (16.2/100,000, 7.8%)  and San Pablo (17.3/100,000, 6.6%) having some of the highest percentage and cases per 100,000 in the county. The rates for these 3 cities would remain strongly in the Purple. You can view county wide details here.

The impact the pandemic has had on our community is why we have focused our phased-in return to school approach on the HEALTH AND SAFETY of students and staff. As part of the District’s Return to School Plan, we outlined the conditions necessary to safely return to in-person instruction. Those conditions are closely aligned with the state’s Orange-tiered status. If and when we do return to in-person instruction, the phased-in approach will be necessary due to our facilities not being able to accommodate 100% of students within the social distancing guidelines that are required in the Orange tier. 

Nothing replaces the experience of in-person, students-teachers and student-student interaction. We miss and need those experiences and are eager to return to in-person instruction. But again, we must do it safely for everyone.

While we are confident the District will be in Distance Learning for the foreseeable future, district staff is in the process of evaluating each school on its readiness to host in-person instruction once that is possible.

If and when we can return, the facilities team will work with school leaders to examine physical/social distancing requirements, proper and adequate ventilation, implementing a check-in process, providing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and developing a mask policy. The District’s nurses and safety team have also developed and are piloting a contact tracing procedure and process for students and staff at every school and department.

Switching topics a little, Contra Costa County is offering free flu shots at its COVID-19 testing locations in Richmond (near the Richmond Memorial Auditorium on Nevin Ave.), North Richmond (1547 2nd St. in Richmond), Pinole (Pinole Public Library, 2935 Pinole Valley Road), and San Pablo (West County Health Center, 13601 San Pablo Ave).

The county is also hosting free one-day flu shots clinics at two locations in Richmond: October 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Shields Reid Community Center, 1410 Kelsey St. and October 18 from noon to 4 p.m. at Tibetan Association of Northern California, 5200 Dalai Lama Ave.  No appointment is necessary  

I want to thank everyone that completed the Multipurpose Family Income Forms that we talked about last Friday and to encourage families that have not to please do so. The forms are about much more than lunch and help support a variety of services and programs at your school. Please complete and share the forms with other families. English form.

We also need students to join the Prioritization Committee and help determine the criteria and priorities for updating the District’s Master Plan related to schools and facilities. Students would commit to 4 to 6 meetings over the course of the year. We need two students from each high school family. Please sign up with the Prioritization Committee Nominee form.

I want to make you aware of two other ways to get involved. One is completing the Community Survey about the priorities for the Master Plan.

The second is to join the Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with reviewing and possibly revising the boundaries for the five trustee areas based on the 2020 federal census data that will become available in 2021. The District has committed to using an Independent Redistricting Commission to conduct that review and make decisions about any possible revisions to the trustee area boundaries. To apply or for more information visit http://www.pianmiu28.icu/redistrictingcommission. The boundaries only affect voting for board trustees and do not affect school boundaries.

Last, but not least, I want to wish everyone a happy National Principals Month, which started yesterday. As a former middle school principal, I want to say thank you to WCCUSD’s principals for leading their communities. Distance Learning has made this role more difficult but the principals have done a fantastic job leading us through.

Have a great weekend and remember to stay safe and continue to follow the social/physical distancing guidelines and wear a mask.

In community,

Matthew Duffy
Superintendent