San Bernardino County school districts were given the green light to reopen elementary schools for in-person instruction on Monday, Feb. 15, after COVID-19 case rates fell to 22.23 per 100,000 residents.
For elementary schools to reopen, case rates need to be below 25 cases per 100,000 residents for five consecutive days. Redlands Unified School District must submit to the county a complete COVID-19 Safety Plan, which includes a plan to maintain staff and students in stable groups while on campus, a comprehensive contact-tracing protocol, a plan to ensure all staff and students are tested every two weeks, a COVID-19 guidance checklist, agreements with labor group organizations and a Cal-OSHA Covid-19 Prevention Program.
“RUSD continues to ensure our campuses and district sites are as safe as possible in preparation for resuming in-person instruction,” said Superintendent Mauricio Arellano in a press release to families. “In order to support our staff and prepare for in-person instruction, we made a list of non-exhaustive safety protocols we implemented.”
The list includes:
● Desk shields for student, teacher and staff desks.
● Face coverings, which include both disposable and cloth masks.
● Multiple non-contact thermometers and hand sanitizer.
● Filters and ionization devices on all air conditioning units to increase the level of filtration.
● All schools have a supervised Isolation Room to house students who may become ill and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day.
Arellano said all schools developed plans to conduct health screenings of all staff and students entering campus and district sites each day, and the district is finalizing a contract with a rapid-test company to administer COVID-19 testing and immediate results.
“Our staff members not only want a safe work environment when they return, but an overwhelming majority of our staff also expressed their desire to receive the vaccine,” said Arellano. “The rollout of the vaccines for educators in our county started slow, but it is gaining momentum as the Board of Supervisors made it a priority to vaccinate educators with the ultimate goal of getting students back to school.
“Thanks in part to our partnership with local community providers, our staff members are being vaccinated starting this week. While the state highly recommends vaccination, public educators are not required to receive the vaccine as a condition for employment or as a requirement to return to in-person instruction. We will continue to share any vaccination opportunities with our staff as it becomes available.
“We recognize that some families would like their children to continue distance learning,” continued Arellano. “The district will continue to offer distance learning for students for the remainder of the year. However, the district will not be able to guarantee a student remains with their currently assigned teacher. We will make every effort to do so, but it will be determined by the number of students who return to in-person instruction and the number of teachers who can safely teach in-person.
“To accurately assess students who will be returning to in-person and those who will remain on distance learning, we will survey our families. We will provide more information, timelines, updates and direction as more clarity is provided.”
District spokeswoman MaryRone Shell said district bargaining teams are in the process of negotiating the reopening plan.
“The school board will review our safety plans and will ultimately decide whether or not to support a reopening,” said Shell.
Next school board meeting
To watch the next Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, go to livestream.com/redlandsusd/boardmeeting