Pasadena Unified School District officials are preparing to open schools on Aug. 17, the original date kids were scheduled to return after the summer break.
But how schools will reopen is still in the air.
“We cannot force any parents to bring their kids back to a physical school site,” said School Board Member Michelle Richardson Bailey. “So we have to have options and the district is preparing for options for our school population.”
On May 21, PUSD sent out a survey asking for parents’ opinions regarding the 2020-2021 school year.
In addition to seeking information on which school their child will attend when school returns in August, the three-question survey queries parents on what type of learning they prefer: in-person, virtual online, and blended in-person and online learning.
The questionnaire also asks parents if they would stick to their answers if there is no vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 available when schools reopen.
“We’re going to take the data, and we’re going to have our staff make recommendations,” said Pasadena School Board Member Scott Phelps. “Of course they’re consulting with the County and looking at what other districts are doing.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines include limiting the sharing of toys, electronics and books, constant disinfecting of school sites, staggered start and departure times, social distancing at school and on buses, teaching and reinforcing hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and increased monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
Students have been in distance learning since March, when the pandemic forced the closure of schools to try to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Some businesses have been allowed to reopen, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to make an announcement about schools.
Districts could be facing $6.5 billion in cuts, as well as other reductions in Newsom’s revised budget. If enacted, the cuts would be single-year reductions to public education greater than those experienced during the Great Recession a decade ago.
About 7 in 10 California school districts were overspending before COVID-19 forced schools to close, according to the California School Boards Association.
“I think we’ll be in a wait and see mode on the budget,” Phelps said. “I don’t imagine that the county would require massive reductions before we adopt our June budget. That doesn’t seem realistic. The legislature has to pass a budget by June 15th. We have to adopt it. But what I’m hearing is that won’t be the real budget because the tax receipts won’t be due until July 15th extension this year. And the August budget will be a significant revision.”