MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT July 14, 2020
This message is from Dave Olney, Superintendent of the Hesperia Unified School District.
Since our closing of the physical school sites on March 13, our staff has continued to prepare for the 2020-21 school year in the midst of COVID-19. It has always been my intention to fully reopen our schools as soon as we were safely able to do so. I have tracked this pandemic continuously, examining the various projection models, as well as our county and local data.
I have regularly met with local health officials and have been in contact with our local hospitals. A few weeks ago it appeared that, due to the lower incidence of COVID in the high desert, that we would be able to reopen with certain modifications and safety protocols. In the past couple of weeks unfortunately, that has changed. In the past three weeks, the number of cases in our school district community have doubled. In speaking with our local hospitals, they are beginning to implement surge plans that they did not think they would need to implement. While school-age children are not as susceptible to COVID, as of June 23 we had 21 childhood cases in Hesperia. We have already had a few employees test positive as well as a student.
A few weeks ago, our Tier 1 plan for athletics, allowing our students to condition outdoors with social distancing, was cancelled due to state restrictions. Further state restrictions have once again been put into place in our county. With the current restrictions and the cases in our community, we are unable to meet the guidelines that have been put in place for reopening schools by the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Education, and the San Bernardino County Department of Health.
I was informed by the Department of Public Health that both six-foot distancing and face coverings were necessary. We do not have the facilities, staffing, or financial resources necessary to accommodate such protocols. I am not a medical expert and I have to rely on the health experts for their guidance to keep our students and staff safe. After consulting with our San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, last night, as superintendent, I made the decision that as of today, our school year will begin August 6th with distance learning. Please know that this situation will be continuously monitored and we will make changes as soon as we are able.
There is a possibility we may delay the start of the school year and there is always the possibility that new information will arise that will help us shift to a different model. I will keep you informed of any changes that occur, and I want to assure you that any decisions that I make will be made in consultation with health officials. I will continue to coordinate efforts with the San Bernardino County Department of Health, review all options, and make the best decision I am able to make to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
In the meantime, staff is working diligently to prepare for much-improved distance learning practices. So, at this time, please be prepared for distance learning to begin on August 6 and I will inform you of any changes. Thank you for your understanding during this extremely challenging time.