INGLEWOOD — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Inglewood Unified School District is in the process of deciding how and when to reopen school campuses for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
“It’s being extremely challenging to think about reopening differently,” said County Administrator Erika Torres. “I wanted to let our board and our community know that it is a very fluid situation.”
District leaders say health and safety is always their primary concern and responsibility as they think about reopening schools.
“What we’re looking at is an emphasis on physical distancing between students and this includes in the classrooms, that desks are placed six feet apart,” said Susan Chaides, a registered nurse who serves as project director for the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Community Health and Safe Schools unit.
“Face coverings will also be required for all people. That means all staff and all students,” Chaides continued.
She said an exception can be made for students that have underlying health conditions, or developmental, emotional or mental concerns.
Students and staff will also be asked to stay home if they are sick.
Meanwhile, Inglewood schools are leaning towards a hybrid, blended learning model, combining in-class instruction with distance learning.
Three different learning models have been considered.
One calls for alternating schedules where on-campus learning for students takes places on a rotating schedule like Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday.
Another calls for staggered start times where on-campus in-person learning arrival and dismissal times vary for students.
Distance learning is also being considered, which would mean continuing to conduct classes online.
According to the district, a blended learning model with alternating schedules is the preferred learning model by parents, students and staff. It would create smaller in-person learning groups to ensure social distancing.
“As a district, I’m really proud to say we did a really excellent job of transitioning from closing our schools in mid-March to providing distance learning to all of our families within the district,” Torres said.
To make distance learning a reality, district leaders gave more than 3,500 laptops to students and provided internet access to low-income families.
However, district leaders recognize staff and parents need continued technology support and support with internet access to properly support students in this new age of learning.
The county Office of Education convened a task force with district leaders from across the county to create a school reopening plan. The task force first met at the end of April.
Inglewood school officials created their own task force with students and parents coming together virtually with teachers, staff, community partners and district leaders to discuss how to reopen schools.
Inglewood school officials are focusing on health and safety, instruction, family and community engagement, operations and social emotional support.
District leaders said it is paramount they meet the educational needs of students. It is also important to meet students’ social and emotional needs during these uncertain times.
Inglewood officials will continue to follow the recommendations of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as it relates to school reopening.
According to a survey conducted by the district, 53% of parents said they do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school, citing health, safety and cleanliness as their top concern.
Among district staff, 56% said they do feel comfortable coming back to work, while 63% of the students said they are ready to go back to school.
The district received more than 2,700 survey responses.
No final decisions have been made. The first day of school for the Inglewood Unified School District is scheduled Aug. 24.