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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    Conejo Valley United School District graduations set; board hears 2020 Reopen & Redesign plans

    By Michael Hernandez

    THOUSAND OAKS–Board members of the Conejo Valley Unified School District received a graduation update with the following dates and times for virtual graduation ceremonies with Principal and senior leadership participating as follows:

    • Conejo Valley High School:  June 8 (3 p.m.)
    • Century Academy:  June 9 (5 p.m.)
    • Thousand Oaks High School:  June 10 (9 a.m.)
    • Post-Secondary:  June 10 (10 a.m.)
    • Westlake High School:  June 11 (9 a.m.)
    • Newbury Park High School:  June 12 (9 a.m.)

    The above ceremonies are drive-up diploma ceremonies. The Thousand Oaks Acorn reported May 28 that each student will have their name called and be presented with a diploma by a school staff member. Seniors will wear face masks with their school’s logo.

    At Tuesday’s board meeting, it was announced that Virtual Ceremony Videos will be released June 10-12; school websites will scroll senior pictures on their webpages; senior tributes will be placed on multiple social media platforms; and school sites are planning for potential senior gatherings in summer based on public health orders.

    Meanwhile, CVUSD parents led by Jeff Moyer, whose daughter, Tate, is graduating from Westlake High School, spoke during public comments (along with comments from many other Thousand Oaks parents) at the May 22 Ventura County Board of Supervisors requesting in-person graduation ceremonies. Moyer presented a plan designed by a Newbury Park High School parent for in-person graduations but was told by Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin that such ceremonies would not be possible according to state guidelines issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

    Board Member Sandee Everett requested Tuesday that the district not be quick to dismiss future in-person graduation ceremonies later in the summer. Everett said she had received more than 75 emails requesting in-person graduation ceremonies.

    The CVUSD board adopted a board resolution stating the district’s desire to hold a senior closing celebration once permitted by Ventura County Public Health Orders. The resolution acknowledges that Ventura County Public Health is allowing car line celebrations for graduations, birthdays, and other special days.

    Also shared at the Tuesday board meeting:  CVUSD 8th graders being promoted and 5th graders culminating were able to pick-up lawn signs on Friday, May 29th (with both groups being able to access slide shows honoring them).

    The board presentation given by several district staff members then turned toward 2020 Reopen and Redesign plans (still in draft from):

    The results of a survey completed (from May 15-20) by 12,183 families, 4,845 students (grades 5-11, and post-secondary), 766 certificated staff and 670 classified staff were presented to board members. The survey findings showed:

    • 53.5 percent of families highly preferred a return to a traditional model of school in fall;
    • 50.1 percent of families strongly opposed a school schedule that was only one day at school and four days remote learning;
    • 50.2 percent of students strongly preferred a traditional model of school in fall;
    • 39.8 percent of students strongly opposed remote teaching and learning;
    • 49.2 percent of certificated staff (teachers) highly preferred a traditional school day;
    • 35.7 percent of teachers opposed remote teaching and learning.

    The safety measures most important to classified staff (non-teachers) were:

    1. Wearing masks;
    2. Maintaining cleaning protocols;
    3. Social distancing;
    4. Frequent hand washing.

    The Conejo Valley Unified School District 2020 Reopen and Redesign Plan incorporates feedback from 27 School Site Committees; an Educator Committee; Site Leadership Committee; Classified Staff Committee; and Student Support Committee.

    The 2020 fall report recommends a space assessment by the CVUSD Planning and Facilities Department. The goal is to identify capacity based on square footage and social distancing guidelines.

    CVUSD board members heard about on-campus Teaching and Learning models; Hybrid Teaching and Learning models; Existing Teaching and Learning Programs; and Remote Teaching and Learning.

    The district’s Next Steps include:

    1. Receiving input from Board members to questions on pros and cons of the COVID-19 Response Instructional Model Options;
    2. Reconvene Committees as needed to receive updated Teaching and Learning Models;
    3. Communication with all stakeholders;
    4. Work closely with Union leadership; and
    5. Monitor local and state health guidelines and update plans accordingly.

    Public comments taken by phone as the board meeting began:

    • A request for flexibility that six feet of spacing for children and adults and that the wearing of masks by students was unrealistic;
    • Another parent who requested the district open playgrounds and not require masks;
    • A comment to post board agendas more than 72 hours prior to meetings due to the requirement that public comments needed to be made the day before public meetings;
    • A public comment requesting in-person graduation ceremonies at some point in the summer;
    • A comment requesting to find additional options for families with students with disabilities.

    The CVUSD will have weekly board meetings during the month of June.

    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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