LANCASTER — Eastside Union School District could use a blended learning model when the 2020-21 academic year begins Aug. 10.

“It’s critical for our students to be engaged,” Eastside Superintendent Joshua Lightle said during a special board meeting study session Wednesday afternoon conducted via Microsoft Teams. “It’s critical for our teachers to have some type of live interaction and engagement with their students every day,” whether remotely or in-person.

Lightle went through the proposed schedules for a blended model and the distance learning model. Lightle will recommend a blended learning model for Eastside Union’s Board of Education to consider at their July 15 meeting.

“Forty-three percent of our folks would like students to be back on campus full-time,” Board President Joseph “Joe” Pincetich said. “I think we can all agree having them there full time is the best educationally.”

Pincetich added the District is taking health considerations into account.

“Most of the kids are going to be more successful the more we see them,” Pincetich said.

Lightle recommended the district reevaluate the models at the end of the first quarter this October.

“Our students learn best on site with a teacher each and every day,” Lightle said. “That will ultimately continue to be our goal as quickly as is it safe to do that.”

Trustee Doretta Thompson said she wants to make sure the district is keeping track of student progress, in particular the most challenged students.

A trailer bill added to California’s $202-billion state budget contains a statement that local educational agencies “shall offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible.”

Distance learning is allowed as a result of an order or guidance from state or local public health officer, or for students who are medically fragile, would be put at risk, or self-quarantining.

The blended model would group students into two cohorts. Group A would receive direct instruction of new content on Mondays and Tuesdays. Group B would receive asynchronous learning through Google Classroom with a focus on the content they received from the teacher the week prior.

The groups would flip on Thursdays and Fridays, with Group B in classrooms to receive direct instruction, and Group A at home using Google Classroom. Wednesdays would see groups A and B receive learning through Google classroom.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is expected to release health protocols for the possible reopening of schools this fall as soon as today.

Barbara Ferrer said the guidelines have been in the works for several weeks in consultation with superintendents across the county and they will serve as a planning document for individual school districts as they make reopening decisions and plan for a possible return of in-person courses.

She said that during a conference call with education leaders on Tuesday, she advised them to have a “Plan B” in case the Coronavirus continues its recent pattern of community spread.

“The Plan B has always been a plan if there was way too much community transmission, it may in fact mean there has to be a longer period of time for there to be more virtual learning as opposed to on-campus learning,” Ferrer said. “... It’s really important that when we have so much community transmission to understand the impact is far-reaching ... on the reopening not only of school campuses but other sectors that still haven’t reopened.

“... You absolutely would not want to open a sector when you thought the result of a reopening could be an explosion of outbreaks within that sector,” she said. “So we’re going to continue to be mindful of what our data is telling us.”

President Donald Trump threatened in a Wednesday tweet to withhold federal money from schools that do not fully reopen this fall. Trump also attacked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reopening guidelines as expensive and tough.

City News Service contributed to this story.

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