LACOE school guidelines

Westside Union School District will start the 2020-21 academic year on Aug. 10, five days later than originally planned, and with an all distance learning model.

PALMDALE — The Los Angeles County Office of Education released updated school reopening guidelines on Monday based on new requirements for public schools, such as the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan and communication supports for districts to engage with stakeholders.

Antelope Valley schools will start the school year with a distance learning model after Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 17 ordered school campuses to remain closed for in-person instruction in counties where COVID-19 cases are spiking.

At the time of Newsom’s announcement, 32 counties, including Los Angeles County, were on the list. The list contains 38 counties as of Wednesday.

The second edition of the county framework, originally released in May, continues to focus on five areas, including high-quality instruction, safety and health, and social and emotional support. The other two areas are family and community and operations.

“While plans to reopen schools look different across the county, one thing is certain: Our top priorities must be the health and safety of students and staff, and we must be guided by directives from our public health officials as we focus on ensuring learning continues,” LA County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo wrote in the document’s introduction.

Senate Bill 98, a trailer bill approved by the state Legislature as part of the 2020-21 state budget, calls for local educational agencies to complete a Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan for the 2020-21 academic year in lieu of the annual Local Control and Accountability Plan.

The Learning Continuity Plan must be approved by each local educational agency’s governing board at a public meeting by Sept. 30. The guide includes considerations for in-person instruction and distance learning. Districts must include additional supports for English learners, foster youth, homeless youth and students with disabilities.

Districts must also cover how they will assess students to measure learning loss, in particular in the English language arts and mathematics areas.

Additionally, the plan calls for showing how Districts will monitor and support the mental health and social and emotional well-being of students and staff during the year.

The new guidelines include a comprehensive planning guide to help districts engage in high-quality, consistent two-way communication with stakeholders through the pandemic and beyond.

The guide urges local educational agencies to engage all families in decision making as a “best practice,” including to “strive for a unified direction in an uncertain environment,” provide uniform and aligned messaging from the district and school level, and conduct regular stakeholder meetings and town hall sessions regarding all reopening procedures.

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