The following questions were posted at the Da Vinci Schools Family Town Hall on March 2nd. Below are questions and responses.
General Return to Campus Plan Questions
Q: Is there a solid reopening plan for all students?
A: Recent input from parents/guardians, students and staff will result in a return to campus plan presented to our Board of Trustees on March 10th for the remainder of this school year. Following Board approval, each school’s plan will be communicated to families March 12th through March 17th. Because physical distancing requirements are still in place for Los Angeles County and because we are required to bring students back in small stable groups or cohorts only at this time, we are exploring all options for how to bring back students and staff safely April 12th through June 11th. Da Vinci’s COVID-19 Compliance Team has been planning for a safe return to campus since last Spring, and we are now in the final stages of reopening, scheduled for April 12th.
Q: Will there be a waiver process for students who wish to remain doing virtual learning?
A: Families will have the option to continue with virtual learning (also known as remote or distance learning) for the remainder of the school year. We will also be considering remote learning options for students in the Fall. We will update families about these options this summer.
Q: How will students who elect to stay distance due to health concerns be supported when Hybrid instruction begins at the HS?
A: Families with students who elect to continue with distance learning will continue to be supported by teachers, administrators and counselors. Our goal is to support every student, both on campus and remote.
Q: Why are we waiting until April 12th if we have had a year to prepare for reopening?
A: Guidance from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health has prevented most of our schools from reopening safely. Because guidance has changed almost monthly (or even more often) over the course of the last year, schools have been unable to track what has become a moving target. Schools have worked hard to implement a quality distance learning program, and with lack of clarity as to when or how schools could reopen, high schools in particular, have been challenged to develop a plan so that all students can return safely.
Q: Thank you for all of your hard work! This is probably too difficult to do, but is there any thoughts or possibility of just bringing the students back just one day a week in very small groups for social opportunities to build community and connection/ social emotional learning when allowed by the county? (Meaning the heavier lifting of actual school work to remain on zoom for the time being.)
A: Thank you. We are exploring all options, and your feedback is helpful. Students on campus will be required to be grouped in small stable groups and consideration of existing distance learning schedules is a key element of return to campus planning. Based on parent, staff and student feedback, we are planning to offer on-campus social and support activities to as many students as possible, while still maintaining our core academic program.
Q: Will each of the campuses return in the same order, for example if DVD brings back seniors first, will that be consistent across schools?
A: All of our Principals are working together to plan for students’ return. Consistency and alignment are key considerations, alongside each school’s unique program needs. School Principals will communicate each school’s plan directly to families, March 12th through March 17th, following Board approval on March 10th.
Q: If we are limited to 12-14 students per cohort, do we have enough teachers to get all students on campus only one day a week? What if not all teachers can be on campus, how many students could actually go?
A: Planning according to available staff and students who can be on campus is currently in the works. You are correct that this is a complex planning process according to availability of students who elect for on-campus activities. These activities may include academic support, grade level connections, supervised work stations, individual meetings with counselors, and targeted interventions. Students/families who wish to stay remote may continue with full distance learning for the remainder of the school year. More information about each school’s plan will be communicated to families at each school’s site information meeting, March 12th through March 17th.
Q: if we move out of purple tier within the next week or so, will you move up the re-open date?
A: The timing of returning to campus is based on several factors. Now that we have moved into the Red Tier, we are focused on planning according to the teacher vaccination timeline and overall staff availability to return. Our teachers started getting vaccinated the first week of March, but this process is based on vaccine supply, and will take 5-6 weeks to complete. In summary, April 12th was a date established based on the health and safety factors related to case rates and teacher vaccination.
Q: With all of the information.. I think I am still left wondering what exactly the 4/12/ day back will look like for each child? Will the stable groups/ cohorts be the first to return, and then a progression of other cohorts? Curious about that..
A: We are currently gathering and analyzing input from families, students and staff in order to design on-campus learning for April 12th through June 11th. Each school’s plan for on-campus learning will be communicated by each school Principal, March 12th through March 17th. Because some students and staff may not return to campus, notification of your child(ren)’s schedule will be communicated starting the week of March 22nd.
Q: Will teachers teach in their classrooms while students have the option of virtual learning and in-person learning?
A: We are currently gathering and analyzing input from families, students and staff in order to design on-campus learning for April 12th through June 11th. We will have some students and some staff who continue with distance learning, alongside some students and staff who return for on-campus activities.
Q: Many schools in the area are bringing back seniors first. Our kids have worked so hard and it would mean so much to give them one last chance to be together before their school experience with Wiseburn/Da Vinci is over. They have missed out on so many milestones.
A: We agree and are working hard to find options for how to support our Seniors at each school. Each school’s plan for on-campus learning will be communicated by each school Principal; however, we can confirm that as long as we remain in the Red Tier, we will host small cohorts for an on-campus graduation program in the gym.
Q: In order to keep to their cohorts, will the teachers of the HS students need to teach multiple subjects?
A: Teachers will continue to teach the subjects they are trained in, including advisory and seminars.
Q: If covid numbers go back up because everything else reopens first and causes more spread, what happens then?
A: Yes, this is a real concern and we are planning with many contingencies in mind, which is part of our COVID Prevention & Safety Plan, posted on the DV website. Each school’s plan for on-campus learning will be communicated by each school Principal, including messaging for how we will pivot should we be required to return to full remote learning.
Q: LACDPH allows up to 25% of students back for support (in all grades) – Why are we not filling schools up to that full 25% that is allowed?
A: Because COVID case rates have varied over the last several months, we began bringing back some students for special services last November, stopped December through February when COVID cases increased to their highest rates, and then resumed special services for some students in March. As we gather input from families and work to vaccinate school staff, we plan to bring back more students for on-campus activities the week following Spring vacation, April 12th. This date also corresponds to the date most of our staff will be fully vaccinated.
Q: When will the robotics team be able to meet in small groups?
A: We are exploring options for specialized programs such as Robotics and will communicate a plan to families following the March 10th Board meeting.
Q: How are mental health needs being determined? Children with 504s? IEPs? Referrals?
A: School counselors, psychologists and support staff determine mental health needs through screeners, advisory lessons, and teacher/student/parent referrals. Student Support Team meetings are held in order to understand how to best serve each student individually when a special circumstance emerges. Da Vinci remains committed to meeting all of our students’ needs, regardless of whether a student has a specific designation such as an IEP or a 504 plan.
Health & Safety Questions
Q: You need to implement proper cleaning and disinfecting to the level that retailers have had to adhere to. Do you have plans for that level of cleaning staff? Kids change classes after every class…will there be cleaning staff disinfecting desks in every room? Will the kids be doing this? Will the teachers be doing this? How will you implement the health and safety and cleaning of the schools like retailers have done?
A: Current guidelines allow for students to remain in a stable group throughout their entire time on campus. We are planning for schedules that minimize mixing students, mixing spaces and mixing staff to enhance our ability to minimize transmission. Cleaning and disinfecting schedules have been revised to ensure compliance with current guidelines regarding these procedures for school sites. New equipment including electrostatic sprayers have been purchased and our custodial team has been trained on their use. They have also received additional training and information regarding the EPA-approved cleaning and disinfecting solutions being used. Staff are also being provided with additional cleaning and disinfection supplies that they can use as needed within their classroom or office. Other measures including the use of plexiglass barriers and additional hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the building.
Q: Hello. I’m wondering how DV plans to maintain social distancing, avoid breathing the same air and avoid multi-touch surfaces in a building such as DV has, where the schools are stacked vertically and share common entry/exit and airflow through the atrium?
A: Our 201 N. Douglas campus certainly has unique challenges. We have met with the Department of Public Health to review entry and exit procedures that best support health and safety as it relates to COVID and we are planning to use multiple, school specific entrances and exits to decrease cross-contamination between sites. Cleaning and disinfection protocols have been developed to address high-frequency touch areas. The use of designated entrances, common areas specific to each stable group, and outdoor areas assigned to specific schools and groups will provide additional areas to increase the ability for students to remain socially distanced. Signage reminding students to remain socially distanced, to wear their masks correctly, and to continue to wash or sanitize your hands will be placed throughout the building. The HVAC system in the building allows for 100% outdoor air to be used so no one is breathing in recycled air. Indoor air quality solutions ranging from bipolar ionizations systems to HEPA level plug in units will work in unison with our existing dual filtration system and will allow us to maintain safe indoor air quality for all occupants in the building.
Q: What will the reconfiguration of classrooms look like?
A: Classrooms will have desks spaced out 6 feet apart facing the same direction and anything that promotes gathering will be limited such as couches. Plexiglass barriers will be used in instances when the required 6′ social distance radius can not be met.
Q: What is the protocol if a student or staff member tests positive for Covid-19 while on campus?
A: If a student or staff is experiencing a COVID like symptom on campus, he or she will be sent home. A medical provider should be consulted for appropriate next steps, possibly including a COVID test, treatment for other symptoms, etc. If a staff or student tests positive they are required to inform their site principal. If there is a positive case in a staff or student, the school COVID Task Force will work with site administration to determine who was a close-contact (“exposed”) to the affected individual. Families of students in the same group/cohort in that classroom will be notified, students & teacher/adults will be sent home to quarantine for 10 days, and should be tested for COVID.
Q: Will high school students be required to have a vaccine?
A: At present, the available vaccines are approved for emergency-use only. Students are not currently required to be vaccinated, and we are still too early in the process to predict when students will be permitted to be vaccinated. In order to provide a safe learning environment, we are in the process of vaccinating staff, which started the first week of March.
Q: Are you requiring all employees to be vaccinated?
A: At present, the available vaccines are approved for emergency-use only, which means vaccination cannot be required. In order to provide a safe learning environment, we have partnered with the Wiseburn Unified School District and the City of El Segundo who have generously provided all of our staff the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Q: Will you be providing COVID testing to all kids and staff on a weekly basis like some schools do?
A: We are exploring all recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the state of California, including COVID testing for staff and students.
Q: K-6 has been approved by the county to open. What are our barriers to allowing these grades back?
A: In addition to the guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, we are also working to get our staff vaccination. The health and safety of our students and staff are at the forefront of our decision-making. Staff vaccination started the first week of March, and will continue throughout March and April. Because we have Spring Break scheduled the first full week of April, we scheduled the phased return to campus for the week of April 12th.
Q: Da Vinci is a hybrid school, larger districts seem to be switching to more hybrid learning models. Since we are uniquely poised in that regard and switched the Connect cohorts to be on consecutive days to account for safety, why are we still waiting? Are you considering other options for example maybe 1 day a week to at least get kids back on campus?
A: Following input from families, students and staff, we are looking at all options to offer students opportunities to return to on-campus learning. Because of physical distancing requirements, we are unable to bring back all students daily; however, we are exploring all options for how to bring back students and staff safely.
Q: Please address Connect return to school plan. Full day? Limited hours? Instruction or social? Outside? Inside?
A: The Connect administrative team is reviewing input from families, students and staff in order to design options for students to return safely. The Connect Administration will contact families directly with the plan for April 12th – June 11th.
Q: How are we allowing sports but not actual teaching?
A: The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has coordinated with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to offer health and safety guidelines for each sport. Because many athletic programs take advantage of the outdoors and are able to operate with the physical distancing requirements in place, CIF has determined that some sports can resume.
Q: How will practice be dealt with in regards to distancing and mask wearing. Will we strictly enforce such a plan? Or will we have our own plan and follow that?
A: CIF has coordinated with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health on health and safety protocols, including guidelines for wearing masks, social distancing, spectators at events, the sharing of equipment, and other recommendations specific to the sport being addressed. The WDV Athletic Program will adhere to those guidelines and continue to update our protocols accordingly. The Athletic Director, coaches and coaching staff are all working collaboratively to implement and enforce the guidelines that the students must adhere to during tryouts, practices, and competitions.
Q: Does da vinci have the resources available to reopen and also do athletics?
A: All athletics programs will be provided with the necessary supplies and PPE as they are able to open up and start their season. All available facilities are being cleaned and serviced for use by our teams. The use of some facilities used by some of our teams (softball, baseball, and track) are being used as they become available depending on the guidelines that they must adhere to, such as those that are specific to public parks.
Important Return to Campus Planning Dates
Upcoming Information Meetings (all Wednesday, March 17)
Da Vinci Science @ 5:00PM / Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/94338838903
Da Vinci Communications @ 6:00PM / Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/96611753337
Da Vinci Design @ 7:00PM – NEW TIME / Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/93564700752