Welcome back to our returning families and a first-time welcome to our families new to Oak Park.
Oak Park USD is prepared for a return to a full, traditional, five-day in-person instructional program for all students beginning on August 9, 2021. While things might not be 100% back to normal, many activities and programs that students and families have missed will return this school year.
The opportunity to return to in-person learning and reconnect with our classmates, colleagues, co-workers, and families is truly energizing. I am confident that our focus on a Climate of Care, student and adult wellness, and academic excellence will prove beneficial to all as we re-engage and return to full in-person instruction this school year.
On Friday, July 9th, the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, which serves as a set of recommendations for state and local governments. In California, the opening of schools is determined under a complex web of regulations under the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Governor’s Office. On July 12, CDPH released its highly anticipated 2021-22 K-12 School Guidance in response to the CDC’s July 9th Guidance for K-12 Schools. Building on the CDPH’s guidance, Oak Park USD will be opening our schools for full, in-person instruction with the following mitigation measures in place:
FACE COVERINGS WILL BE REQUIRED INDOORS (ON-CAMPUS)
- CDPH requires districts to follow its published safety measures for DK-12 schools. Face masks will be REQUIRED for students and staff at all schools when indoors with students present, with minimal exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance.
- Masks will not be required outdoors, during recess, nutrition, lunch, PE, or outdoor instruction (but if a student or staff member wants to wear a mask outdoors, they may).
- We are still awaiting guidance from CDPH for Band, Drama, Music, and Youth Sports, and we will update our Safety Protocols and FAQs document as soon as that is available.
Students and staff will not be required to maintain physical distancing indoors or outdoors. CDPH guidance indicates that in-person instruction can safely occur when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking, hand hygiene, disinfection, ventilation, quarantine protocols for infected individuals) are implemented.
All students and staff are required to self-screen at home prior to entering any school district facility. We request that individuals notify the school and stay home if they have had any symptoms related to COVID-19 within the past 10 days.
SANITIZATION AND SAFETY KITS
- All classrooms will be provided with COVID safety kits. These safety kits will include 3-ply adult surgical masks, student masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, face shields, alcohol wipes, Envirocare spray bottles, and paper towels. All staff and students must wear a mask when indoors with students present. This can be a cloth mask that they bring, or we will have masks available.
- Custodians at all school sites have been trained in the necessary cleaning and sanitization protocols. Our custodial staff will regularly sanitize all classrooms, offices, and common areas.
ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT HEALTH AND SAFETY MITIGATION PROTOCOLS
The safety of all students and staff is of utmost priority, and families can find more details on our return- to- school safety protocols in the following documents, which are also available on our website:
- Return to School 2021-2022 COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols
- Return to School Frequently Asked Questions
AN ALTERNATIVE TO IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION
We feel confident about the strength of our safety plan. However, I recognize that while many of our parents and students are excited about our return, some families may not want to return to the traditional, full, in-person teaching and learning schedule at this time. Therefore, for the 2021-2022 school year only, the District will be offering an Independent Study option through our Oak Park Independent School’s Virtual Program. Distance Learning (DL) that was offered last year will not be available this year. Though DL will not be available this year, this Virtual Independent Study Program is available as an at-home option as described in detail below:
What is the Oak Park Independent School (OPIS) Virtual Program?
The OPIS Virtual Program includes a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction and live interaction. Assembly Bill 130 requires an independent study option to be available for the 2021-2022 school year to students whose health would be put at risk by in-person instruction, as determined by the parent or guardian.
The OPIS Virtual Program will follow the State requirements for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Discovery Kindergarten to Grade 3 — daily synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year.
- Grades 4 through 8 — daily live interaction and at least weekly synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year.
- Grades 9 through 12 — at least weekly synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year.
- “Live interactions” means interaction between the pupil and local educational agency classified or certificated staff, and may include peers, provided for the purpose of maintaining school connectedness, including, but not limited to, wellness checks, progress monitoring, provision of services, and instruction. This interaction may take place in person, or in the form of internet or telephonic communication.
- “Synchronous instruction” means classroom-style instruction or designated small group or one-on-one instruction delivered in person, or in the form of internet or telephonic communications, and involving live two-way communication between the teacher and pupil. Synchronous instruction will be provided by the teacher.
- “Asynchronous instruction” means that the student works independently.
Notice to all Parents regarding the Independent Study Option through the OPIS Virtual Program:
Please note the independent study is a voluntary option and is NOT the same as DL provided during the pandemic.
- In the OPIS Virtual Program, students will complete their work independently at home based on an online, standards-aligned curriculum.
- Student attendance will be monitored through virtual check-ins and completion of independent work.
- This program may not be appropriate for all students. Prior to enrollment, parents and students have a right to request a conference with the school administrator.
- Students will need to disenroll from their current school to enroll in this program. Students can return back to in-person learning at a traditional school within 5 days by re-enrolling at the desired school. We cannot guarantee placement back at their school for elementary students if they return to a traditional school. A student could be placed at any one of our three elementary schools.
- If a student has an IEP or 504 Plan, enrollment in Independent Study is a placement decision and is only allowed if the Student’s IEP or 504 Plan specifically provides for that participation; an IEP or 504 meeting is required prior to any change of placement to OPIS.
- If your student is currently enrolled in OPIS and you would like more information about the OPIS Virtual Program, please contact Principal Kent Cromwell at email@example.com.
If you are interested in our Independent Study option, please complete the OPIS Virtual Program Interest Form by July 21, 2021. Once you have submitted the Interest Form, Mr. Cromwell will contact you regarding the next steps. Please note that submitting this form does not automatically enroll your child in the program. More details available here.
SUPERINTENDENT’S MEET AND GREET: AUGUST 4, 2021
In addition, I want to invite you to an upcoming community event. The Superintendent’s Meet and Greet is scheduled for Wednesday, August 4th, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on the Great Lawn at Oak Park High School. This is an opportunity for me to introduce my Leadership Team to the community and also introduce myself to you. Refreshments will be provided.
Please be assured that all federal, state, and local guidelines, regulations, and protocols related to the safe reopening of schools are being met and exceeded here in Oak Park, as you might expect. Because our team has been putting the necessary pieces in place and working toward this for quite some time, I am confident that the transition will be smooth. *Please know that because all public school districts take direction from CDPH, the above information and regulations are subject to change. We will continue to keep you informed of any changes.
I sincerely appreciate your support as we work towards reopening our schools and our teachers and staff get settled into the mode of a return to full, in-person instruction. I am confident that by working together and following all health and safety protocols our schools will be as safe as possible for everyone.
Please look out for school site-specific information in the upcoming weeks related to the annual registration, school schedules, and back-to-school notices from your school principals. Our Nutrition Services department will be providing school meals for FREE TO ALL OPUSD students in the 2021-2022 school year, with more details to be sent later this week.
On behalf of the Board of Education and my staff, we look forward to welcoming you back to campus on August 9th!
Dr. Jeff Davis