Intro To Sports Medicine Class To Be Cut, AHS Moving To 7 Daily Classes Schedule

On Tuesday morning, the Atascadero Unified School District held it’s board meeting via Zoom, simultaneously live streaming to YouTube.com to adhere to all standards social distancing standards set forth by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The meeting opened up with no news to report from the closed session that preceded the meeting. While many of the discussions recently have been surrounded by news of cuts, distance learning, and general gloom, Tuesday’s meeting opened with some good news as Atascadero Middle School Principal Jessica Lloyd addressed the board.

Last fall, Principal Lloyd came before the board and gave a presentation explaining how the middle school was in the application process for an award from the California League Of Middle Schools as a “School to Watch.”

“Our application was well-received, which prompted a site visit to Atascadero Middle School,” Lloyd said in the session. “This was an exciting day for us; we had educators from across the state come and visit us and talk to our staff and talk to our kids.”

The middle school set up an artifact room, made a video for the representatives from CLMS and brought in the community to showcase the Atascadero charm. In January, the middle school was officially recognized as a California middle school to watch.

“We were selected as one of nine middle schools in California,” Lloyd explained. “So Atascadero Middle School is officially on the map, and I could not be more proud of our staff and our kids and the partnerships we have created.”

Atascadero Middle School was selected and will be used as an example for other schools across the state for three primary reasons, the school’s sixth-grade model, culture and the intervention program called “Saints Block.”

Sixth-grade teacher Denise Moore was also nominated and recognized by the California League of Middle Schools as one of the top teachers not only in San Luis Obispo Coastal District but also in California for her work with the sixth-grade model.

Following the presentation, the session switched to public comments on items not listed on the agenda, and the public took this time to express their displeasure and explain their reasons for keeping the recently cut “Intro to Sports Medicine” course at Atascadero High School.

The calls came from students, employees in the District, and head athletic trainers from other schools in the county such as Templeton and Arroyo Grande urging the board to bring back the program as soon as possible.

The “Introduction to Sports Medicine” class has been at the high school for more than 20 years and has helped turn many Greyhound students to the medical field but will not return in 2021 due to the current effects of the coronavirus on AUSD’s budget.

“The program wasn’t cut because the program wasn’t beneficial or because it wasn’t running well,” Atascadero Principal Bill Neely said Wednesday. “Cierra Boots did a great job and is great to the students and is a fantastic trainer, but it was ultimately a fiscal decision that had to be made.”

Following the public comments, Atascadero Superintendent Tom Butler addressed the board and wanted to thank the classified staff in the District for their work serving 2,500 meals a week and cleaning classrooms in preparation for the return of students.

Butler went on to address graduation and stated that a newsletter would be going out to everyone in the coming days to outline the proceedings for the high school graduation on June 3, 2020.

Following a round of voting on agenda items, Butler then addressed the board regarding COVID-19 updates for this year and the plans for the upcoming fall.

The District has received 120 internet hot spots to help with distance learning and 470 additional chrome books through some state funding that was recently made available. Unfortunately, the devices will be arriving at the end of the school year. Still, they can be used to help students in special education who have expanded curriculum throughout the summer and can be implemented next year for everyone.

The District also claimed to have made over 50 home visits from principals, administrators and resource officers in the last week to help parents and monitor students.

“These were students we were concerned about because they were not checking in with us regularly,” Butler said. “We were going out to primarily help parents, and what we found was most of the support they needed was just in utilizing the technology effectively.”

Lastly, Butler reiterated that the District will be ready to start school in the Fall on August 12, if permitted by California and Governor Newsom. The District has organized three separate plans for the fall due to the uncertainty that looms in the future.

AUSD has a plan in place for school to return in a traditional way of learning, and one built entirely on distance learning and a third that blends the two together with a combination of in-person and online education for the students.

“We are committed to our August 12 start of school date,” Butler said. “We will be ready to start school on August 12.”

In closing, new Atascadero High School Principal Dan Andrus joined the session with current Principal Neely stating that Atascadero High School would be moving away from the eight-period alternating block schedule that has been in place at the high school for decades and will be moving to a seven-period daily schedule.

The main criteria for the change was the flexibility it provides next year, especially surrounding all the uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A majority of our departments agreed that it was prudent to move to a seven-period per day schedule,” Neely said to the board. “Now, that provides lots of opportunities, there are pro’s and con’s of any schedule, but at this point, it seems most prudent to move to the seven-period schedule because it provides us with the flexibility to respond to whatever our situation may be on August 12.”

The main difference between an alternating eight-period block schedule and a seven-period daily is that every student will attend every class each day, meaning the class times will be shorter, and no study hall is offered.

“We are very conscientious in supporting our students,” Andrus said. “With the absence of study hall, there are some support classes we want to work in, and we want to be flexible to give support during the school day and after the school day.”

Minimal details were provided as the District is still in the logistical process of setting up the schedules and is working with department heads, administrators, and teachers to find the best solution possible.

The next AUSD board meeting is scheduled for June 2, 2020, at 11 a.m.

Getting through this together, Atascadero