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By Jeff Pack
Staff Writer 

FUHSD board approves MOU with teachers outlining reopening plan


Last updated 12/23/2020 at 4:26pm


Village News/Courtesy photo

The Fallbrook Union High School District Board of Trustees met via teleconference to tackle a series of issues, including a memorandum of understanding with the teacher's union that set a timeline for reopening in hybrid models in relation to county COVID-19 tier systems.

During its Monday, Dec. 14 meeting, the Fallbrook Union High School District Board of Trustees approved a contract between the district and Fallbrook High School Teachers Association and a memorandum of understanding between the two, despite voiced objections from parents and students surrounding the details in the MOU that would set hybrid learning for limited students to begin only when San Diego County returns to the red tier and for more students when the county hits the orange tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom's framework for reopening.

"To address the unique situation created by the spread of the coronavirus, the CDPH framework details when and how schools should reopen for in-person instruction," Superintendent Ilsa Garza-González said in her presentation. "In accordance with this guidance, school districts may only be reopened once the county in which the school district operates is in the red tier of the state's blueprint for a safer economy.

"The district's goal is to return to learning in brick-and-mortar studying as soon as it is safe for both our students and our staff. We will continue to adhere to the guidance and direction of the San Diego County Department of Public Health. Fallbrook Union High School District and Fallbrook High School Teachers Association have agreed to the MOU for a hybrid distance learning model. As the fluidity of the COVID situation continues, we will re-evaluate and monitor. Safety for all students and staff continues to be our priority."

New trustee Eddie Jones asked for clarification about the issue of in-person learning.

Garza-González clarified that during the time the county is within the purple tier there will be only an after-school program with a small cohort model. When in the red tier, she said, the school would open up to 25% of the student population beginning with special education, then to English language learners, migrant students, foster students, and homeless students.

"To elaborate, under the red tier, schools that have not opened in the purple tier can not reopen until the county, not the state, until the county is in the red tier," Garza-González said. "The waivers are only available to elementary schools, they are not available to high schools. We have been following the data, which is public record ... which shows schools that have reopened and the high schools that have reopened in a hybrid distance learning model or in a traditional model are less than 1% of the county high schools."

Jones then asked the superintendent to confirm that when the county hits the orange tier, 100% of students would have the ability to be on campus if they so choose.

"50% of students at any given time," Garza-González said.

She said Vista Unified had opened their schools with a traditional model when the county was in the red tier. FUHS Dr. Principal Narciso Iglesias said the district has since closed the schools until further notice.

Board President Diane Summers talked about the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Once we start having people vaccinated – we're so close, people," she said. "Our patience has been pressed to the extreme, but we're almost there."

Summers asked how quickly the schools would reopen once the county hits the orange tier.

Garza-González said according to the MOU, they could reopen within two weeks and described all the precautionary measures the district has taken to ensure the safety of students and staff when they return.

"Even when the county went into the purple tier, we've continued planning for a hybrid model so that when we move into the red tier we can open to those small cohorts," she said. "That two-week window (is) just to give teachers time to transition and to notify parents and then be able to transition to the orange tier as soon as possible as well."

Garza-González said stakeholders will be notified via email, text, and phone calls.

Earlier in the meeting, during public comment, Heidi Roderick spoke against the timeline for reopening in the MOU.

"At this point, there's no justifiable reason to prolong the return of in-person learning, especially if the in-person learning is a hybrid model," she said.

"Distance learning is not a suitable replacement for in-person learning. Failing grades and mental health issues are proof of that. At this point in time, pursuing policy knowingly harms children against the mission of our school district, goes against everything."

She, along with another speaker, said the community should consider a recall effort of board members if the board passed the item.

"I hope that it doesn't come to this, but our kids need to be back in school ASAP," Roderick said. "Not later. Now."

The action item was approved unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, the board held a moment of silence for a former student who lost a battle with Lupus.

Garza-González presented Fallbrook's Finest – a monthly recognition for district employees. For December, she recognized FUHS social studies teacher Marco Arias, Director of Food Services Judy Reynolds, and Ivy High science teacher Sheri Ryan.

Athletic Director Pat Walker gave a report and update on what's happening with sports at the school, reiterating that Season 1 has been pushed back to a start date that is likely at the end of January 2021.

He also talked about a health document that has been developed to guide athletic programs at each school.

"San Diego Section has developed a specific health and safety document, we haven't seen it yet, but we're excited to see it," Walker said. "We've been waiting a long time for this and this is supposed to be released in January to give us the real guidelines on developing a plan for practices and running these contests."

The board heard first readings of the adoption of new board policies and administrative regulations and revised board policies, administrative regulations, and exhibits that will be submitted for approval at the Jan. 11, 2021 board meeting.

The board also heard an information item about student enrollment for the school year from district Chief Business Officer Brenda Mefford.

"Because CBEDs which is now CalPeds reporting day is always the first Wednesday of October and every fiscal year, this year it was Oct. 7; at that time we had 2,155 students enrolled in our school," she said. "Which was an increase of 31 from projections. As you may know, we have been in declining enrollment and in the last three years we've actually leveled out. To be conservative we were still budgeting out a decline, so I'm happy to say that we did not hit that decline. We actually increased by one student."

She said enrollment is important, but the ADA is more important because it tracks the number of students that attend every day.

The board also approved the first interim report and adopted the annual and five-year developer report.

"At the end of 2021 we should have a $4.4 million unappropriated fund balance and that's the amount after the restricted money is taken out, after the 3% reserves that are required by the state, we always keep back $35,000 for a revolving cash fund," Mefford reported. "We have $4.4 million, which is an overall 16% reserve."

In educational services, the board heard information about new courses that included Digital Media Production, and International Baccalaureate courses such as IB Spanish Initio SL, IB History of the Americas, and IB Dance SL.

They also heard a first reading of the revision of board policy and administrative regulation regarding graduation requirements.

The board also approved single plans for student achievement for FUHS, Ivy, and Oasis High School.

They also ratified the San Diego County Office of Education Career Technical Education participation agreement for the 2020-21 school year, and a partnership with Orenda.

The board also approved the consent calendar unanimously.

Jeff Pack can be reached by [email protected]


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