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Plumas Charter announces approach to school year

By Taletha Washburn

Executive Director, Plumas Charter School

Schools in Plumas County have been faced with extremely difficult decisions over the last several months. Over the summer both PUSD and PCS publicized draft plans to provide for hybrid onsite educational programming in the hopes of meeting the needs of our communities to the best of our abilities.

As discussions continued, local conditions, including those existing at specific school sites and communities, continued to change. In a PUSD Board meeting last week, it was decided that the district would start the year with distance learning. Considering the multitude of logistics, unknowns, what ifs, bargaining and negotiations, this was the right decision for them. If I was a district administrator, I would have advocated for the same decision. The sheer volume of logistics management, unknowns, and risk factors are paralyzing.

While PCS is processing the same kinds of logistics and risks, the scale and complexity is significantly reduced. Because of our small student and staff base, and our very small and limiting facilities, as well as the fact that we have always offered a variety of instructional programs, we have the ability to try something different and move quickly between program options in response to changes in local conditions.

During the special board meeting on Aug. 12, the PCS Board of Directors approved the program plans as presented by the Executive Director and Leadership team. The plans essentially include a reduction in the number of students at any site by half or more, offering one or more days on site, coupled with offerings of distance learning and independent study.

Site specific plans will be finalized in the coming week and shared with families. More detailed information will also be available in the next couple of days on our website and FaceBook page. The onsite offerings will differ at each school site, in response to the building layouts, student numbers, staffing, and stakeholder feedback.

The PCS Board also adopted an extensive set of COVID-19 Health and Safety policies and procedures. These policies were vetted through public health and include clear criteria on when the school would close sites to onsite classes and how we will handle a variety of situations in response to COVID-19. These policies will be strictly adhered to. Our families will have to in turn be responsive with us, and agree to follow our new protocols around sickness and exposure.

We have been asked by the majority of our families and staff to try offering onsite classes. We are planning to do just that-try. Programs will also be set up, so that regardless of the onsite offerings, all school work and support will also be available through Google classroom, so that we can seamlessly transition between plans as needed, and once cold and flu season starts, there will be significant movement between programs.

School staff and administration appreciate the complexity of the myriad challenges we are facing. Emotions are high in our communities. At this time of such extreme uncertainty, fear and confusion, I would encourage all stakeholders to support schools across the county as we are all trying to do the best we can with the tools and information we have.

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