OUSD Expands In-Person Learning; Plans Intervention Summer School

(Courtesy of OUSD)
These students are happy to have increased in-person learning.

    With vaccinations increasing and COVID cases declining, the Orinda Union School District (OUSD) expanded in-person learning to its elementary schools and Orinda Intermediate School (OIS).
    In-person instruction for grades K-5 increased to five days a week with lunch on campus beginning April 20. Instruction features a staggered cohort model (early bird/late bird) for grades K-5 allowing teachers to target instruction to small groups of students.
    “Getting off their screens and into classrooms with teachers and peers has made a world of difference for my children’s’ overall well-being. This has been especially true for my kindergartner with special needs, who was really unable to access her curriculum via Zoom,” said parent Emily Waterbury. The transition to more in-person time is an extremely welcome development. Now, I will get smiles every morning when my youngest asks, ‘Is today real school or Zoom school.’”
    OIS began its new schedule April 20, which included combining Cohort A and Cohort B into one, full cohort with in-person learning five days a week. Unlike the elementary schools, OIS does not offer lunch on campus and afternoons focus on teacher office hours, asynchronous work from home and P.E. classes.
    “I will never forget picking up my sixth grade daughter at OIS one day and she was just gushing about science. ‘Mom we got to look through microscopes today,’ she said. She went on and on about what they looked at, what a friend saw, things they were doing outside, etc. This has been so emotional for parents and to see my daughter so excited about school, meant everything,” said parent Laura McDowell. 
    At the April 12 OUSD Board of Trustees meeting, Director of Curriculum David Schrag did a PowerPoint presentation on OUSD’s expanded learning and intervention programs. He noted many programs were reduced or eliminated due to distance learning and outlined which programs should return as soon as funding allows.
    On top of his list is Intervention Summer School, which would help struggling students as well as ensure the brightest students were adequately challenged. Schrag hopes to have 12 students per grade level in the summer school. Other priorities are increasing students’ access to literacy/math intervention, increasing teacher training opportunities, deepening ELA/math assessment and increasing resources for teachers. He also proposed adding a full-time literacy and intervention teacher.
    “I completely support the intervention program,” said Glorietta first grade teacher Charles Shannon. “In my own classroom, I’ve seen remarkable progress in a student who was struggling.”
    Schrag noted the school district could benefit from AB 86, signed by Governor Newsom March 5. The COVID-19 relief package includes $2 billion for In-Person Instruction (IPI) grants and $4.6 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) grants.
    “We have to be mindful of what we fund and how,” said Schrag. “We need to see where kids are after distance learning and how we can support them. But you don’t want to start a program and then have funding run out.”
    The OUSD Board of Trustees will look at possible funding sources and consider Schrag’s proposal at its meeting in late April, after press deadline.

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