PLEASANTON, CA — School officials in Pleasanton and across Tri-Valley have reassured families that they continue to work on reopening plans in the wake of Alameda County's return to the most-restrictive tier.
Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund said in a letter to parents Tuesday that the return to the purple tier was disheartening, but served "as a vital call to action for us to adhere to current health guidance as the holiday season approaches."
The purple "widespread risk" tier is the most restrictive tier of the state's four-tiered, color-coded COVID-19 risk system. A county must remain in the second-most restrictive red "substantial risk" tier for 14 days before schools can reopen to students. If a school opens while a county is in the red tier or better, it may remain open when the county returns to the purple tier.
Mountain House Elementary School District, which has 16 students, is the only public school district that remains open in Alameda County, said county Office of Education spokesperson Michelle Smith McDonald.
Though PUSD is unsure of when schools will reopen, Haglund said officials will shift current plans for January and work to expand cohort student support programs, which are still allowed for schools in purple tier counties. Cohorts are stable groups of up to 14 students in kindergarten through 12th grades who may meet to receive targeted instructional support or intervention services, according to the state.
Cohorts could help schools address academic and mental health needs of struggling students, Haglund said. He encouraged students and family members in need of mental health support to participate in its Care Solace program.
Cohorts are not intended for general education students, but school districts have some leeway in determining who its highest-need students are, said Smith McDonald. It could be students who are learning English or enrolled in special education programs.
PUSD said it will continue to plan for the eventual reopening of elementary schools and preschools. Alameda County announced Monday that it is not currently offering waivers for elementary schools that wish to reopen, but Haglund said PUSD wants to be prepared if the opportunity arises.
PUSD was one of four unified school districts in Alameda County — including Livermore's school district — to submit a reopening plan, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District officials said Monday.
"Please know that we care deeply for the physical and mental well being of each of our students and employees," Haglund wrote. "We understand that this news will not be received well by many, given that the related needs are significant and the consequences impactful. We are doing our very best to navigate this health pandemic with respect and thoughtfulness."
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe said in a statement Monday that the Office of Education will put all of its resources toward supporting schools in their efforts to plan for reopening in the future.
"As a county, state and nation, we clearly have some challenging days ahead, but there are signs of progress in fighting this virus and I am hopeful that the new year will bring with it an opportunity to be together, to learn and spend time with one another in person again," she said. "In the meantime, our collective commitment to our children and communities will sustain us."
See which Alameda County schools have reopened to serve students in person here.