Jessica Cejnar / Monday, Sept. 21 @ 5:42 p.m. / COVID-19, Education

Del Norte Unified Unveils COVID-19 Alternative to LCAP; Plan Addresses School Reopening, Distance Learning, Student Mental Health Needs

A few days before students set foot in a classroom for the first time since March, Del Norte Unified School District unveiled a formal plan for how it would serve those students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-year Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan replaces the Local Control Accountability Plan, said Tom Kissinger, DNUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services.

Kissinger presented the multi-faceted plan to the DNUSD Board of Trustees and the public on Thursday. The Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan will then go before trustees again this Thursday for final adoption and submitted to the state, according to Kissinger.

“It’s a more formal way of showing what our reopening plan has been,” Kissinger told trustees Thursday. “What we’re supposed to do is look at the things we’ve done to prepare to reopen school and (say), ‘This is our plan for the year.’ And as we go through the fall, we can look at, how did we do? And is there anything we can do differently?”

Kissinger also unveiled a Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan for the Del Norte County Office of Education on Thursday. Both the DNCOE and school district will be able to update their plans in January and submit them to the state Department of Education.

The following year, the district will go back to developing and submitting an LCAP to show how it’s meeting the needs of its low-income, foster students, homeless students and English language learners, Assistant Superintendent of Business Jeff Napier said.

In addition to including information about increased for its low-income, foster students, homeless students and English language learners, the Learning and Continuity Plan addresses a variety of other issues.

This includes information about how the district reached out to students, parents and staff to gather input. This included parent surveys on reopening schools and technology needs; discussions with the Del Norte Teachers Association and CSEA Great Northern Chapter, which represents teachers and classified staff; virtual town hall meetings and weekly webinars and Zoom meetings, Kissinger said.

The plan touches on learning both in the classroom and online. DNUSD included information about its four-phase “Continuum of Education,” which outlines reopening schools and was developed with state public health and safety protocols in mind.

According to Kissinger, it also addressed how students connect with online learning — including whether they have access to devices and WiFi and how to remedy the situation if they don’t.

The Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan also discusses staff’s ability to use programs like Google Classroom, SeeSaw and Zoom to conduct lessons, Kissinger said.

“In any cases, before March, many of our staff weren’t even doing these things at all. It wasn’t even on the horizon,” Kissinger said. “They rose to the occasion and participated in this professional development.”

The other aspects of the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan addresses intervention and tutoring programs to ensure students are successful academically; supports for their social and emotional wellbeing; reaching out to families who haven’t been successful or aren’t showing up for school; and ensuring students have enough to eat.

Though she said she appreciated such a comprehensive plan, Sarah Mitchell, vice president of CSEA Great Northern 278, which represents the district’s classified staff, urged DNUSD trustees to take a closer look at the details.

Earlier in Thursday’s meeting, Mitchell said union representatives tried to find out if plans for individual campuses had been finalized and reviewed with staff. This includes meal and recess procedures and who would staff them. Classified staff had also asked what transitioning into Phase 2 would mean for after school and preschool programs, Mitchell told trustees Thursday.

When addressing the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan, Mitchell said she hopes plans she and her colleagues were hoping to obtain for each school would have as much detail.

“It would be nice if as much (detail) was put into that as has been put here,” she said. “Maybe it’s not a bunch of fluff.”

Mary Peacock teacher Judy Smith asked about training protocol for substitute teachers and how that would work for distance learning.

“As a certificated employee, we still haven’t been informed about how subs would be trained to cover classes for synchronous and asynchronous time,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything about any of these trainings. As a teacher I’m liable for any contact a class has with a sub and preparations about that.”

Kissinger said Smith’s comment was “good feedback on a plan that’s still in draft format.”

Janelle Sweet, a special education instructional assistant at Crescent Elk Middle School, asked about masking protocols.

“I had a couple of experiences of having to go into the district office in order to turn in paperwork,” she said. “While I was in there, people weren’t wearing masks. I would like to know if you’re going to enforce that and how you’re going to enforce that.”

DNUSD began bringing small groups of its highest needs students back into the classroom on Monday. It’s set to begin Phase 3, its “50-50” blended learning model on Oct. 5. The Board is expected to discuss the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan at its Thursday meeting.


DNUSD Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan

DNCOE Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan


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