By Debra Moore
Following last night’s decision by the Plumas Unified School District governing board to begin the new school year via distance learning, Plumas News reached out to Plumas Charter School to determine its plans.
“There are a lot of decisions to be made,” said Executive Director Taletha Washburn, adding that the leadership team would meet next Monday, Aug. 10, to consider options, with a final decision to be made during its Wednesday, Aug. 12, board meeting.
“We have our initial plan set,” Washburn said, which involves a mixture of two days on-site and three days off-site learning. But that could change. “It has been my thought process that we should be closely aligned with the school district in a variety of responses.”
She said that Plumas Charter faces the same safety and health challenges as PUSD. “My guess is our plan will change, I’m just not sure how at this point,” she said. Washburn meets regularly with PUSD Superintendent Terry Oestreich and Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff to discuss issues surrounding schools and coronavirus.
During last night’s school board meeting, various speakers threatened to pull their students out of PUSD and put them in the charter school if the district didn’t offer in-class learning. Washburn responded to those statements during the meeting: “Plumas Charter is not a competitive force; we have the same concerns, we have the same challenges,” and added, “Plumas Charter has a capacity and we are very much there.”
She reiterated that fact this morning. “We have firm limits on our capacity — both because of our buildings and because of our charter with the school district.”
To accomplish in-class learning, Plumas Charter has been working with the county to lease its building in East Quincy that formerly housed the probation department. Due to various processes, that building won’t be available at the beginning of the school year, but it’s needed to provide the physical distancing required for in person attendance.
Washburn said they could be looking at some creative solutions to space needs such as holding classes in Dame Shirley Plaza or other outdoor locations, though she said that is only feasible during the first couple of months due to weather.
Washburn empathizes with the tough decision made by the PUSD trustees last night, because students, their families and community members are split over what is the right decision. “Everybody is right,” she said, “so there is no one right answer.”
But Washburn, her leadership team and the board will try to come up with the best answer that they can for their students.