A plan to reopen and begin the new school year at San Benito High School is in the works but the Board of Trustees must first give the approval. 

The board and school administration met July 14 in a special meeting to discuss the potential safety protocols that lie ahead of the scheduled Aug. 13 start. 

Shawn Tennenbaum, superintendent at San Benito High School District, said in a newsletter issued July 14 that they are preparing for every contingency, including which of the two instructional models will be presented to the board on July 28. 

Tennenbaum said the first model is a hybrid approach, which is a blend of in-person and remote learning.

Students show up to campus each morning or afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The other model is to return 100 percent to full remote instruction, also known as distance learning. 

“Our goal has been and is to remain flexible and adaptable during this ever-evolving situation as we note that 75 percent of California counties are now on the governor’s watch list in response to a surge in Covid-19 cases in San Benito County and across the state,” Tennenbaum said. 

Tennenbaum said if and when they move forward with the hybrid model, safety protocols will include a requirement that everyone on campus—students, staff, visitors and parents—wear masks.

“We are all in this together and we don’t want to be punitive, but we must educate and be role models to provide a safer and healthier environment on campus,” he said.

The hybrid model would have San Benito High School divided into seven “mini campuses,” each with its own entrance and exit. Each campus would have its own set of restrooms, staff lounges, parking lots, supervision, fencing and handwashing stations. 

Each cohort will have approximately 15 or 16 students and classrooms will be set up with a minimum of six feet of social distancing between student desks and workstations. Grab-and-go meals will be provided with social distancing protocols implemented at all pick-up locations such as existing snack bars and the cafeteria.

Trips to the restroom will require students to sign in on a Google Sheet, which will alert custodial staff to disinfect the area after each use. 

Custodial staff will clean and disinfect classrooms after the morning cohort of students meets, then again after school. Wednesdays will be used to deep clean the campus.

Buses will be marked to indicate where students can sit and they will be provided hand sanitizers.

Tennenbaum said that assistant principal Laurie Chavez told the board that they are committed to providing a safe, clean learning and working environment. He said they will follow recommendations made by county public health officials, the California Department of Education and federal CDC guidelines.

Tennenbaum said they encourage parents or guardians to do a temperature check on students prior to sending them to school. Students need to wear a face covering and they will have their temperature taken in designated areas prior to entering campus. 

Students with a temperature below 100.4 degrees are allowed to enter campus, while those with a reading above the maximum temperature will be held in a monitoring area until they can be picked up.

“Whether we implement the hybrid model or return to 100 percent remote learning, we will always maintain the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our top priority,” Tennenbaum said. “Over these next few weeks, we will continue to work with our campus and community constituents to do what’s best for our students and staff, always utilizing the latest information and recommendations from local and state health officials throughout the decision making process.”

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