The Los Alamos Public School Board met virtually for a work session on Thursday. All board members were in attendance.
The Board started the meeting by recognizing members of the Safe Start Task Force who spent numerous hours over the past few months putting together the Safe Start Task Force Report. Many staff participated while off contract, along with several student representatives and community members. President Ellen Ben-Naim appreciated their efforts, saying that the members spent “many, many hours and lent their expertise on this plan that we adopted at the last meeting.”
The School Board next approved the red, green, yellow criteria which will guide the transition from fully remote to hybrid to in person learning this school year. Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus noted that LAPS looked at what criteria other school districts are using not only across the state but across the country and other countries in developing criteria for LAPS. Dr. Steinhaus also presented a safety checklist which will also be used in the decision making process.
“This is valuable for the School Board, parents and teachers,” said board member Stephen Boerigter, adding that it is important that the district has this transparency in regards to how we are going to make our decisions.
Dr. Steinhaus also shared a comparison checklist with board members which outlined educational approaches during March, April and May and the approach to online learning moving forward. For instance, while the spring was filled with uncertainty, the focus with the start of the new school year will include high quality instruction for all students, integrated technology, scheduled school days, grades, attendance and assessments.
“This will reassure our community that we’ve got this,” said President Ben-Naim.
Vice-President Christine Bernstein said: “We are pointing out what happened in the spring and that we’ve had the summer to plan.” She added: “It points out how it will be different in the fall, and not a repeat of the spring.”
Dr. Steinhaus also informed the board that the district has coordinated with the Department of Health to provide COVID testing for all school employees next week. Testing will take place in the lobby of Duane Smith Auditorium. “Staff were clear that they wanted to get tested even if we are starting remotely,” said Dr. Steinhaus.
LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Guy, and Student Services Director Karla Crane, presented to the board about early childhood education. Dr. Steinhaus set the context by summarizing a body of research showing the importance of developmentally appropriate learning for students in PreK through 3rd grade and beyond. Steinhaus said: “the first 7 years have so much to do with how the next 70 turn out for every individual student.”
The district’s PreK Reentry plan which is being submitted to the new Early Childhood Learning and Care Department. The plan outlines how the PreK program will be implemented with the fully remote start of school. The plan does call for in-person visits the first two days of school which will be scheduled individually with each student and parents to meet the teacher, see the classroom and pick up materials for learning remotely.
The group also said that each elementary school is developing plans for kindergarten through 3rd grade students. Mrs. Guy noted that while there is overall alignment between the schools, there is still some individual school personality in each plan. She pointed out that the schools and daycares in the community are working together to meet the needs of students and families. “Going into this school year, our five elementary schools are better aligned than we have been in 10 years,” said Ms. Guy.
Here is a small sample of the many plans for LAPS early childhood education:
- Meet the teacher and “home visits” with masks and safety precautions
- Welcome kits sent home with hands on minds on activities
- Pick-up & Play
- Interactive learning with the teacher and fellow students
- Small-groups activities with physical distancing
Schoolwide information will be sent out early next week. Classroom information will be shared with families after teachers return to work later in the week.
President Ben-Naim announced that there will be a vacancy on the school board. Julia Baker, who joined the school board in January, will be moving out of state and submitted her resignation effective September 1. The process for filling this vacancy will start immediately with the request for interested persons to submit letters of interest and resumes. Mrs. Baker represents district 4.
The board then approved lease agreements with Triad National Security for the Canyon Complex, Mesa Complex and Pajarito Complex. Each lease is for an initial term of five years with the option to extend for an additional year.
The next regular School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The next School Board Work Session is slated for Thursday, August 27, 2020. Both will be held virtually.