OUSD seeks way for youngest students to be on campus


7 24 20 waiverScreenshots of PowerPoint presentations to school board July 22 on Plan 1 and Plan 2 for "Fall Distance Learning TK/K."


(Editor's note: On July 24, Ojai Unified School District Superintendent Tiffany Morse wrote an email and text to "OUSD Families and Community" that stated OUSD is 7 24 20 WAIVER2"not currently seeking a waiver, which was made clear by our presentation to the School Board at our meeting on Wednesday night. ... At the 

meeting we discussed the possibility of a waiver, and indicated we would not be seeking one at this time."

The school board's July 22 discussion on instruction for transitional kindergarten, kindergarten can be viewed starting at the 1:50 time stamp at: 


To read the latest OVN articles on Ojai Unified School District Aug. 3-7 virtual town halls about the start of school scheduled for a "soft opening" on Aug. 19, click on: OUSD town halls.

To read about OUSD proposed on-campus childcare options for OUSD students up to eighth-grade, click on: OUSD childcare options.)


Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

Ojai Unified School District unveiled its latest plan for the 2020-21 school year at its July 22 board meeting.

This plan will begin with distance learning through at least Oct. 1, since Gov. Gavin Newsom announced July 17 that schools will not be able to resume in-person learning until their respective counties are off the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list for 14 consecutive days.

A district superintendent may seek a waiver for an elementary school to return for in-person learning before this time, but another district in Ventura County — Oxnard’s Rio School District — was already told by Ventura County Public Health that there is no consideration in the county for waivers, according to OUSD Superintendent Tiffany Morse.

For transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, staff determined distance learning is not a viable option based on developmental needs,  Morse told the school board.


“We have a two-pronged plan for TK and kindergarten,” Morse said. “The first is to submit a waiver to the Ventura County Public Health to allow on-campus instruction for TK/K, potentially first grade. We would not be doing so for all elementary, because we don’t believe that all elementary staff will return to campus. … But we do know and believe that our TK and kindergarten teachers are, with all of the safety precautions, willing to come and serve their students because they have and they understand all those considerations that are specific to that age group.

"If the cases are declining, we would seek to submit a waiver in August, if possible. But at some point we also have to decide how we're going to open school if that's not possible."

Trustee Kevin Ruf said: "Well, I'm glad we are seeking it; it's interesting ... the idea that we're not going to seek it for the broader group" because of the perception there would not be sufficient teachers. "But I am certainly happy, and I would just add that I was so impressed .... We had a tour of all the safety precautions being taken at the summer school and all of our dedicated teachers that were working in all sorts of capacities and classes all over the place, really keeping that whole campus humming, and it was super impressive and it seemed very safe and so I'm certainly happy that we’re at least seeking to do that in TK/K."

Morse said, "So, if there is no possibility of a waiver remaining and, as has been brought up several times, we are lumped in with the entire county and so even though I believe, you know, our geographic situation is a little bit different, at this time, I think that we are being looked at countywide," plan B would be to operate a daycare and extended learning option called the ABC Club that would be available for TK, kindergarten and potentially first-grade students.

Morse said: “We would follow all daycare safety protocols … . While they are at school in daycare, we are providing them with their distance learning, although I’m trying to move away from saying ‘distance learning’ for TK and K. I can really talk about homeschool.”

The district will provide this opportunity for these young students who need live, interpersonal interactions with either a parent or a teacher in order to learn, Morse said.

Ruf asked what it would take for the district to include first-graders with the plans for students in TK and K.

Morse said: "We would like first grade to be involved. We just need to spend some time working with the teachers. We just came up with this plan today. Our first plan was to submit a waiver and then I got an email at, I don't know, 6:30 a.m. this morning saying there are no waivers being granted, and so in light of that news, then we came up with the second plan to be able to serve our students."

For the other grades, Morse said, “In relooking at our plan, our new vision is to start in phase one, which is distance learning, through Oct. 1,” she told the school board. “Again, we don’t have a choice in this; this is required; extended as needed on a month-by-month basis.”

Because of the small size of the district, Morse said it will be easier to transition from distance learning to the previously planned combination of in-person and remote-learning hybrid model when Ventura County is off the state’s monitoring list for COVID-19.



The district has chosen Canvas as its learning management system for distance learning, which allows parent observer accounts for parents to see grades and assignments.

Grading will also be very different from distance learning that took place this last spring. Morse said: “In the spring we had modified grades … we had pass/fail. In the fall, we will have traditional grades. In the spring, there was no attendance required; in the fall, there is daily attendance required that is monitored and checked through Canvas.”

Morse said: “Child care is critical to many of our families who are working, so we’d like to offer a child-care and extended learning program, which we’re tentatively calling Campus Club, for grades 2-8, which would operate on campus 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days per week.”

The reason why a district can have kids on campus for childcare but not for school is that there is a completely different set of regulations from the California Department of Public Health for childcare and for school, Morse said. 

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