AUSD Update - Reopening Schools

Dear AUSD Families,

 I am thrilled that the 2020-2021 school year is finally underway. Our goal of reopening our schools for face-to-face learning is now close to reality.  

For the last several months, we have been preparing for the return of our staff and students to campus. We have developed and updated our reopening schools plan with every new public health order. We have purchased pallets of hand sanitizer, face coverings, personal protective equipment, electrostatic cleaners, Chromebooks, new digital books and tools, and much more, all with the goal of reopening our schools with a sound plan in place. We are also finalizing an agreement with the San Diego County Office of Education to provide free hotspots to our families who do not have reliable internet access. 

To ensure that we had the option to open our schools, even if San Diego remained on the county watchlist, we submitted an Elementary School waiver.  Yesterday, we were notified that the county and state approved our waiver. In fact, we were one of only four public school districts in San Diego county to receive a waiver approval. We have reassigned many of our staff, including bus drivers, instructional aides, and food and nutrition staff, to support our families in our Extended Student Services child care program. We were also the first school district in the state of CA to design and develop a Learning Pod option for our parents. In short, we have been focused on adapting our district to meet the challenges our families face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While our goal is to open our schools, we want to do it in a way that ensures the health and safety of our staff, students and families. We have designed a gradual re-entry plan that will allow us to begin to open our schools on September 2 with our Preschool Special Day Class being the first to return for face-to-face learning. Our goal is to ensure that all of our planning and procedures have a chance to be put into practice and tested before we bring all students back on campus. On September 21, we will begin our hybrid learning model with all students returning to campus in the A/B Day learning model.  More information will be forthcoming regarding days in which students will be attending. 

Having our staff and teachers feel safe is critical to our goal of ensuring the opening of our schools is done with care for our entire community. When we return to campus, all students in grades TK-8 will be required to wear a face-covering unless they qualify for one of the exemptions specified in the CDPH face-covering guidelines. 

With a gradual re-entry plan, we feel confident that we can monitor the success of our social distancing and sanitation measures, make adjustments as needed and ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. 

While there is much work that has gone into our reopening plan, there is much work ahead. I have asked our staff to assume positive intentions in all our actions and to create a working and learning environment that supports everyone. Lastly, as we move forward and open our schools, I also ask that each of you join me in supporting our students and staff as we all work together to make our community proud of the way we respond in reopening our schools.

With great respect and hope for the future,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth