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Most OUSD elementary students to start school remotely on Jan. 4 for at least one week

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Marianne Ratcliff, Ojai Valley News editor

Most Ojai Unified School District elementary students will start back to school remotely for at least one week when school resumes after winter break on Jan. 4.

However, students in OUSD special day classes and Chaparral High School are able to return to their campuses for in-person instruction on Jan. 4.

ABC Clubs will also be open in person beginning Jan. 4 and there are plans for adding more hours to that program, with details to come, according to Superintendent Tiffany Morse.

In a Dec. 29 email to OUSD families, Morse wrote that distance learning will be an option for families not comfortable with their children being on campus for in-person instruction.

Nordhoff High School and Matilija Middle School will continue with distance learning, until at least the second semester begins Jan. 25.

Morse wrote in her email: “Nordhoff and Matilija families will be receiving a survey in early January about your in-person attendance preferences so that we can build our schedules for the second semester accordingly. We are planning for an in-person return of these programs as soon as we are able to do so in accordances with public health guidance.”

At a special Dec. 28 meeting, the school board voted unanimously for a “safety week,” in which OUSD elementary students will be taught remotely until at least Jan. 11.

The board voted for the elementary school students to return to a hybrid model of learning on Jan. 11, depending on the COVID-19 case numbers at that time, and the superintendent’s recommendation of whether or not distance learning for those grades should be extended.

Since OUSD opened its elementary schools for in-person learning in early November before Ventura County went into the purple tier, those schools are allowed to reopen for in-person classes, under state and county Public Health guidelines. 

Schools that were not opened for in-person classes before the county went into the purple tier are not allowed to reopen for in-person instruction until certain health metrics have been met, according to Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin.

During the hourlong Dec. 28 school board meeting, Morse reported that the district was aware of seven OUSD staff members and 11 students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Also, 19 staff members and 39 students have been quarantined.

As the COVID-19 numbers increased in Ventura County, the OUSD board called an emergency meeting Dec. 3 and decided to suspend in-person classes for most elementary students up to winter break and reassess before the end of 2020.

The Dec. 28 school board meeting, held via videoconference, was livestreamed and recorded and may be viewed online at:

https://www.youtube.com/user/adminojaiusdorg

and on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/ojaiusd.org

On Dec. 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $2 billion in incentives to return elementary students to in-person classes as early as mid-February. His Safe Schools For All Plan can be viewed at: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/12/30/governor-newsom-unveils-californias-safe-schools-for-all-plan/

At a Dec. 18 school board meeting, the OUSD board unanimously approved a total of $294,000 to be spent on additional pay for Ojai Unified School District employees. Morse showed a PowerPoint slide at that meeting explaining that “the funding comes from the COVID Learning Loss Mitigation Funds, which must be spent by Dec. 31 or returned.”

Morse said the one-time compensation was calculated by taking the cost of 1.5% for each group of employees and then dividing by that number of employees. As a result of that calculation, certificated staff will receive $1,400 in additional pay; classified staff will receive $550; management will receive $1,500; and unrepresented employees, which include hourly employees such as coaches, will receive about $250 in additional pay.

 

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