Stronger Together: IntroductionPart of Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California's Public Schools. Created through the Reopening Schools Task Force that fostered a collaborative process for educators and stakeholders to lend their important voices.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected entire communities, states, and the world and led us on a journey none of us thought we would experience in our lifetime. Our communities and families have experienced physical, emotional, health, and financial strains. The high levels of stress and trauma experienced during this time have highlighted the resiliency, strength, and power of ourselves and the importance of our schoolcommunities.
We know our local educational agencies (LEAs) are all working collaboratively with their local county health officials and community partners to plan on how to safely reopen schools. The intent of this document is to be a guide for local discussion on reopening schools. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” document; rather, it is a document that honors the varied local contexts of each of our LEAs. This guidance document was developed with the most current information known at the time and may be updated as new data becomes relevant. This guide will provide checklists, essential questions for consideration, and examples of best practices. Guidance on standards for quality distance learning is currently being developed by the CDE and will be available on our website. While the guidance by its nature is not a mandate, this guidance serves as a “how to” for LEAs as they plan to safely reopen. LEAs need to work with their local health departments and local stakeholders to ensure that their protocols align with the most current scientific knowledge and community expectations. It is also reasonable to expect that the protocols schools implement will change as the local conditions change.
What has been highlighted during this pandemic is the importance of paying attention to the social–emotional well-being of our students, families, and staff. We encourage all LEAs to keep the emotional well-being of all at the forefront of their decision making. This is also a time to reflect on systems that may not have worked for every child, and we encourage you to please continue to eliminate the barriers to student success that existed before the closure. All of this is difficult work and each LEA should work to be inclusive and collaborative from the start of their planning with community stakeholders (i.e. students, families, teachers, staff, local bargaining representatives, school advisory councils, and other partners). LEAs have an opportunity to align and connect their reopening plans with tools such as the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and safety plans while utilizing inclusive, distributive, and collaborative leadership grounded in continuous improvement.We have an unprecedented opportunity to improve how we care for and educate each child. Let’s work to enhance the public good of our public schools as we implement new, more student-centered designs.