WUESD staff receive supportive letter from superintendent
September 10, 2020 | View PDF
Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune
Kelly Richers, superintendent of the Wasco Union Elementary School District, sent a statement to all staff at the district expressing his gratitude and support for everything that staff has done to make school work during the covid-19 pandemic.
Richers said that at first he wanted to wait until things stabilized; however, he realized that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, so he decided to pen a memo to all in order to connect with everyone involved in the education of the district's students.
Richers said that in May, after Governor Newsom announced the revised budget, the district spent several weeks reviewing how it could save $4 million in anticipated funding shortages paid to the district. He said this shortfall could have involved significant layoffs.
"We spent the time identifying seniority lists, identifying the personnel required in both teaching and classified positions and determining exactly where personnel cuts would have to be made in the workforce, instructional materials and facilities," Richers said. "Then in a flash, all this doomsday planning changed."
A bill was passed in July by legislators that saved thousands in California school systems. This prevented massive layoffs that could have taken place after the governor's earlier announcement that districts would be facing the originally announced shortfalls. "This bill protected your job," Richers saidd. "The bill's specific provisions allowed districts to repurpose any employee within the district as needed, as declared in emergency covid-19 regulations."
The district was at a point where it thought it was going to be able to begin making long-distance plans after the summer for the fall; however, once Kern County was again placed on the governor's watch list and in the purple category, it was clear that there would be no in-person school at all during the fall quarter. The county was ordered to shut its doors to all students. This was announced after the district had made plans to open the schools for a limited in-person return to school. The district had made plans for a limited number of students to return to school on a staggered schedule.
Attendance continues to be an important issue with the California Department of Education's attendance mandate.
The Los Angeles Unified School District lost a lawsuit in which special education students and students in special groups such as homeless and English learning students were not being given the education needed to fulfill their IEP plans.
"The district intends to have a board-approved plan to offer face-to-face special services," Richers said. "We will meet with affected teachers and limit face-to-face interactions as much as possible for our staff and students' safety."
Richers also hopes that by spring a vaccine will become available to allow face-to-face instruction or some expanded form. He expects things won't be able to return to normal until the 2021-2022 school year.
He also wanted to reach out to staff at the WUESD that the district office is aware of the expectations expected of everyone in the district during this unusual time. He recognizes how much has been placed upon educators and staff. He also wants everyone to know that the district recognizes that things are changing rapidly and the district recognizes the differing home situations, distance learning situation, technology knowledge level, morale and sanity. "The district is reacting to factors outside our control," Richers said.
Richers confirmed to all staff that they are appreciated and they are appreciated by the students for their efforts. He ended by thanking everyone for their continued efforts during this pandemic.