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Superintendent's Message

A word from our Superintendent - Ed Dardenne-Ankringa

Dear Big Pine Parents, Students, and Families,

I'd like to commend everyone for persevering during challenging times and also for how diligently everyone has been working to make distance learning as beneficial as it can be for every child.  As my grandfather always reminded me- tough times never last, tough people do.  

So when do we get to come back to school for in seat instruction?  We have a new state tier system and Inyo County is currently in the purple tier.  Should we get to the red tier, hopefully next week, we begin to have options for safely reopening our schools.  What can we all do to help our community get to the red tier and then to the orange tier?  Wear a mask.  Wash your hands.  Socially distance.  

To find out more information on the new tier system and how it works, I recommend starting here with the California Department of Public Health https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyMonitoringOverview.aspx.  

If you are having any technology issues, please give the school office a call at 760-938-2222 and ask to come in for help.  Most tech issues are easily fixed while you wait.  If you need a hotspot, please call and let Audra know.  We have hotspots available if you are having difficulty getting online.  If you have one of the older hotspots still, bring it in and I'll replace it with a better one.  

To more quickly take care of tech issues, please help us by following these guidelines:  Elementary students should bring a parent or guardian with them to have their chromebooks fixed and if any student K-12 wants a hot spot they must bring their chromebook with them and have their parent or guardian present.  

Have a safe and healthy Labor Day weekend!

 

Ed Dardenne-Ankringa

Superintendent & Principal

 

COvid-19 Update

Back to School 2020-2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for your patience as we bring you up to date on our plan for reopening Big Pine Unified School District schools in person on August 17, 2020.  

Precautions and Procedures
Please read the included “Covid-19 and District and School Measures to Return to In Seat Instruction” for our practices and requirements to return to in person instruction.  Each section outlines what we are doing to keep our students and staff safe.  Many of the sections that follow in this document are listed in greater detail in “Covid-19 and District and School Measures to Return to In Seat Instruction” to support and continue our safe return to in person instruction.    

Schedule
Our school calendar and bell schedules remain the same at this time.  We have not changed our instructional minutes and we are attending school five days a week.  

Classrooms
Our classrooms have been reconfigured to allow for maximum social distancing.  Unnecessary furniture has been removed.  Access areas for students to walk into or around classrooms have been expanded as much as possible.  Student desks and tables are four to six feet apart and all facing one direction.  Whenever possible, six feet of social distancing space is utilized.   
The locations of classrooms or grades have also changed across the campus to utilize the largest learning spaces possible for larger classes.  The average class size in the elementary grades is 12 students and the largest class size is 18 students.  In the secondary grades 7th through 12th, the average class size is 11 students and the largest class is 14 students.
Wherever possible, with particular emphasis on our youngest students, we have expanded access to student restrooms and sinks to limit exposure and increase sanitation.  We have also placed the larger classes in the larger classrooms on our campus.        

Cohorts
Students attending school in person are considered part of a cohort.  Grades 7th through 12th represent approximately 70 students as a cohort.  These students are a cohort as they share the same building and the same teachers throughout the day. In elementary grades Kindergarten through 6th, each grade level or class is considered a cohort.  Each class is a cohort as they are self-contained in one room with one teacher.  Should COVID-19 exposure cause quarantine or closure, it would first be based on an individual student or staff member, a student cohort, and then determined by public health if it was a school-wide or district-wide issue.      

Transportation
We are using both of our busses to provide greater social distancing at bus stops and on busses.  There are now two bus runs in the morning, two bus runs in the afternoon for elementary, and one bus run in the afternoon for secondary.  
All students riding a bus are subject to a visual COVID-19 symptom check and a non-contact temperature check.  Only students who are symptom-free will be allowed to ride on a bus.  
We are skipping and distancing seats on busses to keep students socially distanced.  Students in a family that live in the same household will be seated or grouped together.  All other students will have their own seat.  All students should expect to be assigned a seat or directed where to sit by a bus driver.    

Meals
All meals will be “grab and go” for breakfast, nutrition break, and lunch.  Students will receive a sack meal and will eat outside and will be required to socially distance themselves from their peers while eating.  
We will continue to offer all students free meals each day.  However, especially in the mornings, we are not encouraging students to arrive at school before 7:45 to eat breakfast.  As much as possible, we are trying to limit exposure and situations where students are not under the direct supervision of their teacher(s) and limit opportunities for students to be engaged in unstructured or non-educational activities. 
   
Common Areas and Shared Items
All common areas inside buildings or classrooms that are not essential to classroom instruction or learning activities are closed to either maximize social distancing or limit exposure of students and staff to COVID-19.  Examples of this in classrooms include reading or group work tables or learning centers.  Examples of this in buildings include locker rooms or the library.
We will limit and avoid sharing of items as much as possible in classrooms or during school activities.  Should sharing occur, cleaning and disinfection will occur between student uses.      

Protective Equipment
All students and all staff are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside and with other students and staff members.  Students are also required to wear masks or face coverings in other school situations such as but not limited to:  riding the bus, waiting in line, receiving meals, waiting in the office or other common areas, etc. Students and staff are allowed to take breaks wearing a mask or face covering when outside, when socially distanced from other students and staff members, and at appropriate times.  All students and staff are responsible for following a directive to wear a mask in any reasonable or emergency situation, if or when requested by district staff.  While the district will provide masks on a need or emergency basis, students and families are responsible for providing a mask or face covering each day.  Students who refuse to wear a mask at school or during school sponsored activities will be removed, quarantined, and can be excluded from in person instruction.      
In addition to masks, the district has provided staff and students with other protective equipment as needed.  Some of this equipment includes, but is not limited to, shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, and EPA approved disinfecting and sanitizing products.  

Staff Training 
All district staff have been and will continue to be trained in the latest and most effective measures and protocols to fight COVID-19.  No staff members are allowed to have contact with students unless they have been trained.  All staff members are held responsible for following COVID-19 measures and protocols while engaged in their assigned duties.    

Exposure Protocols
Please read the included “COVID-19 Exposure Protocols In a Classroom/Cohort Setting” for specific steps that the district will take if COVID-19 exposure were to occur. Please also visit www.inyocounty.us/covid-19 for more information.  The district will follow guidance and protocols from the California Department of Public Health and Inyo County in the event of COVID-19 exposure.   

Visitors and Guests
To protect the health and safety of our students and staff, visitors and guests are encouraged not to request access to our campus.  Only in emergency situations or for essential workers or first responders who are deemed necessary to our campus programs or facilities, are visitors or guests allowed on campus.  All requests from visitors or guests to access our campus must be approved by the Principal. 

Distance Learning
All families have the choice to opt out of in person instruction for their student(s).  This request is to be based on a student being medically fragile and unable to attend in person instruction for medical reasons.  Should a family wish to opt out of in seat instruction during COVID-19, they must do so in the following manner:

  • The request to opt out of in person instruction and go to distance learning must be in writing and the parent/guardian must state the reason for the request.  The request should be signed and dated by the parent/guardian.  
  • The request when approved by the district will be for a quarter (middle school or high school) or for a trimester (elementary school).  The request must be renewed each quarter or trimester.  

For a student to remain enrolled in distance learning, they must engage in the following:

  • Participate in distance learning each school day and during school hours.
  • Participate in live interaction with other students online during assigned times or class periods.
  • Participate in live instruction with their teacher(s) online during assigned times or class periods.   
  • Complete assigned grade level or subject area work that is the same work or comparable to the work that in person students are completing.

Failure to participate in distance learning requirements will result in the school and staff attempting to re-engage with the student and their parent or guardian.  If the student is still unable to complete the above mentioned requirements, the student will be dropped from distance learning and must enroll in the district  in person instructional program.  

Final Thoughts
This letter and the supporting documents mentioned are not an exhaustive list of all our efforts to return to in person school instruction.  They do however highlight the main or most important aspects of our work to provide in seat or in person instruction during COVID-19.  We anticipate that as we learn more about COVID-19 and what works best for our students and staff to be at school safely, some of this information and our measures will change.  Should the state or our county require us to cease in person instruction due to the pandemic, Big Pine Unified School District is prepared to go to a rigorous, coherent, and equitable distance learning program designed to meet the needs of all our students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.  We have spent this summer planning to meet the needs of our students through online learning platforms, apps, and appropriate technology for each and every student.  We hope to teach and learn in person, but we are prepared to do all we can for every child and all our families should we all have to go to distance learning.  These are very challenging times for children, families, and schools.  We will continue our close partnership with you to provide the best educational experience for your child in the midst of COVID-19.       

Sincerely,

Ed Dardenne-Ankringa
Superintendent & Principal