With a recurring theme of student achievement and well-being at the first meeting of the 2020-21 school year, the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) Governing Board discussed returning to in-person learning; the status of the BRIDGE distance learning model; diversity, equity and access to academic achievement; and last year’s Advanced Placement test results.

With the County Public Health Officer giving schools the green light to open for in-person learning on Sept. 1, CUSD has planned a phased approach to gradually bring students back to each of the four school sites. Phase One begins this week and includes students with moderate to severe disabilities. Safety precautions and logistics, including temperature checks, desk barriers, social distancing protocols, staggered schedules, floor decals, exit and entrance procedures, and tents, have been put in place. Phase Two is scheduled to begin on Oct. 5 and will include TK-second grade students in assigned cohorts, students with intervention needs, and students with mild to moderate disabilities. “We are aiming for continuity and stability of instruction and plan to safely bring back students in cohorts and then study the impact of each group in planning for the next phase,” said Superintendent Karl Mueller. “Our plans are in alignment with public health guidelines.”

The Board voted unanimously to adopt the COVID-19 Mitigation Plan which establishes actions taken by the District to provide a safe environment that adheres to federal, state, and local orders.

Director of Learning Dr. Megan Battle gave the Board an update on attendance and details of the BRIDGE distance learning program. She reported that attendance rates are 98% at Coronado High School, and 100% at the other three sites. Battle also acknowledged that, “BRIDGE is highly technical with a reliance on technology and we could not have achieved the success we have without our Technology team who had been working around the clock helping teachers, parents, and students ensure they have what they need to be successful.” 

During her report Battle also announced that the district has implemented free childcare for CUSD employees at each school site. The program serves 90 employees with children from ages 3-18. Students are in the care of CUSD Instructional Aides.

In response to current and former student claims of racism, and protests in June and July, the District has committed to a two year in-depth study and action plan related to equity and diversity issues throughout CUSD. Director of Student Services Niamh Foley has led the effort and will provide monthly updates on the Equity Action Plan. Her report covered three items related to the Equity initiative. First, Foley reported that the Discipline Action Guide (DAG) has been updated. “The most substantive change to the 2020-2021 DAG is the addition of the behavior infraction ‘use of biased language specifically related to race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, or other discriminatory language.’” The changes made are in the Verbal and Written Aggression section on page 15 of the DAG, which can be read in its entirety on the CUSD website. School site principals have been made aware of the updated language and will train their respective staff.

Foley also reported on the Equity Board Policy Workshop held on Sept. 9. The Governing Board, facilitated by Foley and San Diego County Office of Education Senior Director of Equity Fabiola Bagula, reviewed the Equity Board Policy 0415 and made changes to strengthen the wording and reflect local needs. The BP 0415 was presented as a First Read and will be voted on for adoption at the Oct. 15 meeting, allowing appropriate time for public comment and input. Following the adoption of the policy an Equity Committee made up of community members, district staff, and students will be formed. The plan for selection of members and guidelines for the committee will be announced in October.

Finally, Foley discussed the Diagnostic Center Project underway at Village Elementary School. The project is a partnership with the Diagnostic Center of Southern California and aims to enhance inclusive education practices and increase inclusion time for students with disabilities. “Although the work of the project was cut short due to COVID related school closures, much was accomplished prior to the closures,” said Foley. While small group training and two school-wide professional development presentations have been conducted, the Diagnostic Center staff continue to be available for consultation with Village Elementary teachers and the partnership will continue for the 2020-21 school year.

As part of the CUSD Long Range Plan (LRP, adopted in 2018) the Board hears regular reports assessing the value and effectiveness of current programs. During his LRP report Mueller shared information on Advanced Placement courses and pass rate for the 2019-20 school year. CHS had a total of 413 AP students who completed 942 exams. The pass rate (students with scores of 3, 4, 5) was at a five-year high of 87 percent.

“This is definitely something to celebrate, particularly because much of the test prep work had to be done remotely. It is a testament to our strong teaching staff and motivated students,” said Mueller.

Schools were closed for in-person learning on March 13, six weeks prior to the College Board testing window.

The next meeting of the CUSD Governing Board is on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 4p.m.

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