FUSD Reopening Plans


On Feb. 1, FUSD posted their COVID-19 Safety Plan & Cal/OSHA Prevention Program on their webpage publicizing their plans of reopening in-person schools in accordance with Alameda County guidelines. According to the Cal/OSHA Prevention Program, current public health orders allow FUSD to reopen schools for in-person instruction once Alameda County is in a red, orange, or yellow tier for five consecutive days as per the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. As of right now, the county is in the purple tier where many non-essential indoor businesses are closed and COVID-19 cases are deemed “Widespread.” 

Although state guidelines do not encourage schools to reopen if they’re in the purple tier, local mandates allow for reopening on a smaller level if deemed necessary. FUSD schools may not reopen for grades 7-12, but K-6 may open so long as it meets certain standards: the county must  have below 25 cases per 100,000 population per day, and the school must post  a completed Covid-19 Safety Plan (CSP) to their website, which will then be submitted for review and approval to the local health officer and State Safe Schools for All Team. 

As schools consider reopening younger grades and commence drafting the accompanying paperwork, FUSD ensures that it will prioritize the safety of the community and make changes to minimize transmission risks of COVID-19. Such modifications include having a small cohort system where “learning hubs” or “pods” of a maximum of 16 individiauls convene in-person in a small group environment. Such instruction is permitted under the California Department of Public Health Guidance on Small Groups in the Purple Tier or Red Tier, if the individuals are deemed to receive effective in-person targeted support and intervention services. 

In addition, FUSD will mandate that all students and staff use Personal Protective Equipment upon reopening, practice proper physical distancing, follow hand-washing protocols, and use a face covering at all times with the exception of eating. The district will also establish sanitization stations throughout eating areas, develop guidelines for staff training and employee testing, designate points of entry and exit in places like cafeterias, employ plexiglass shields at pay stations on campus, limit aerosol-generating activities like band and choir, and continually monitor whether extracurricular and after-school activities can be conducted outdoors or virtually. As of right now, events like Open House, Back-to-School Night, and counselor presentations are to be held virtually. 

FUSD has also announced its Four Phase Reopening Plan which outlines the steps that it plans to take to reopen schools effectively and safely, although the timeline for it remains unclear. In the first phase, which is currently in place, preschool-12th grade will allow for in-person 1-on-1 assessments if necessary. In the second phase, Small Group Cohorts are encouraged to take place for students who need regular, stable access to technology, wifi access, and other supports identified by FUSD. In the third phase, elementary schools will operate under a hybrid system where students will return to classroom instruction but continuously rotate between in-person and asynchronous distance learning. This phase may also incorporate a phased grade-level timeline, with younger grades like kindergarten to second grade coming back to school first. In the final phase, middle schools and secondary schools will return to classroom instruction and, similar to the previous phase, will allow for rotations between groups of students and types of learning. 

 COVID-19 Safety Plan & Cal/OSHA Prevention Program was announced just as Governor Gavin Newsom is said to be reaching a much-awaited deal for his $2 billion “Safe Schools for All Plan,” which outlines the in-person reopening of schools across California, in the next few weeks with lawmakers and ending the stalling of this legislature that was proposed on Dec. 30, 2020. 

As mayors across California advocate for imminent reopenings with cautious safety ordinances, pressure is put on Governor Newsom to prioritize the vaccination of teachers and school staff amidst hopefully reopening kindergarten through second grade. However, local counties like Alameda are designing and constantly updating their own reopening agendas and health guidelines in the meantime.

Along with considering a multitude of safety measures and regularly monitoring transmission trends, FUSD aims to draft any further plans or protocols in compliance with the continuously-updated Alameda County Office of Education Checklist. By adhering to county measures, the district is actively ensuring that both students’ and staff’s wellbeing is seen as the cardinal priority prior to making any formal decisions.