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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

CUSD already looking towards the fall

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Now that Claremont students, teachers, administrators and that final, all-important shadow group—parents and caregivers—have tasted the sweet nectar of kids being back to in-person learning, the natural next question is, “What happens next fall?”

“I’ll be honest, right now we’re planning for a regular fall,” said Claremont Unified School District interim Superintendent of Schools Julie Olesniewicz.

The hard truth though is it’s a legislative matter. Public school districts have a degree of autonomy, but when it comes to COVID-related health and safety, they take their marching orders from the state.

And thus far, getting a clear picture of what the 2021-2022 school year might look like has been hard to come by.

“As far as legislation goes we’re not seeing any answers out of Sacramento right now. None whatsoever,” said Ms. Olesniewicz. “So there is some talk on whether or not they’re going to require us to offer at home instruction, and if they do, how many minutes it would be. We’re just trying to advocate for, ‘Please give us some guidance in a timely fashion, because we do need to plan.’

“All we’ve really heard coming out of Sacramento is ‘Yes, we’re having those conversations.’ No real guidance.” 

Another aspect to planning for next year is CUSD’s distance learning component.

“So we will be working on that as well,” Ms. Olesniewicz said. “We’re looking at being able to not just come back to normal, but to be able to offer families that weren’t quite ready yet.”

Her most recent weekly superintendents’ conference call with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer touched on the open question of fall 2021.

“They talked about how we could still see some mitigation measures [in the fall], and I got really nervous when I heard that, because I was afraid to hear the word ‘hybrid,’ or something like that,” she said. “But all she mentioned was wearing a mask.

“We may be in a situation come this fall where students and staff are still wearing masks, and I think at this point we can all live with that. We just want our students back, and full time. But I don’t have a crystal ball, so who knows what’s going to happen.”

But as we saw in late November, things can change. Though L.A. County’s latest numbers show 6.3 million residents have had at least one vaccine shot and 2.2 million are fully inoculated, a handful of COVID outbreaks have continued to flare up among schoolkids, all having to do with exposure through sports.

Still though, all signs point north.

“We are going to plan a regular fall,” Ms. Olesniewicz said. “And I’ll be honest, last Thursday, the last phone call I was on with Dr. Ferrer, it sounded really positive. So, I’m going to go with that.”

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