REGIONAL — Livermore’s school superintendent last week announced an effort to help vaccinate not only teachers, but vulnerable families as well.

In preparation for her district’s March 22 return, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) Superintendent Kelly Bowers offered the news during a March 1 appearance at the Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Alliance meeting.

Bowers said she used data from the county to determine that Livermore has more COVID-19 cases than other cities in the Tri-Valley area, with many uninsured families working in the agriculture or service industries who are unable to protect themselves.

“That’s where our pitch came for a community effort to make (vaccines) very accessible,” she said. “No transportation barriers, no language barriers, no barriers, just get something here.”

Bowers drafted a letter and sent it to local politicians and representatives, and immediately began to hear back with positive support from many area stakeholders.

Livermore has now been approved for a mobile vaccination pod capable of administering 1,000 doses each day. The pod will be placed in areas most in need of vaccines.

During the meeting, Bowers also shared the district’s reopening checklist.

The reopening checklist contained many components, and Bowers noted the list was not completed overnight. LVJUSD has been working on its plan since last year. This final product covers cleaning and disinfection; health and safety measures; planning and implementation; on-campus logistics; communication and information; testing, contact tracing and vaccines; agency approvals; and ventilation.

“Ventilation is a real concern for a lot of districts,” Bowers said. “We have great HVAC systems; we have MERV 13 filters installed; we have two schools that, due to a grant, actually have MERV 16 air filters installed. And that was pre-COVID when we were having those horrible air quality days, so we have been focusing on air quality since before COVID.”

Plastic barriers will be used in offices, but no barriers are being placed around student desks. Bowers noted this was a conscious decision based on evidence that masks are the most effective tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and plastic barriers can actually limit air flow.

Masks are a requirement for all students and staff. Campuses will feature other tools, like touchless hydration and touchless hand-sanitizing stations, along with screening and contact tracing measures.

“There will be some adjustments for families,” Bowers noted. “Many parents are used to walking their kids right to class, and we do have to limit the numbers and the amount of people coming on campus. But we will welcome the students, and they will be able to go about their business.”

Bowers also said that she and the district have pushed to get their employees vaccinated. Currently 90% of teachers and 80% of staff have received their first dose of the vaccine, and booster shots are being scheduled. Bowers stated the vaccination was not required, but made available to staff prior to full scale opening.

Welcoming Back Pleasanton Students

Pleasanton Unified School District is the first of the three Tri-Valley districts to open in a hybrid learning schedule for elementary grades. The district’s spokesperson, Patrick Gannon, said things are going well since the district reopened March 4.

“Reopening for our elementary schools has been going smoothly in getting all of our hybrid prekindergarten through fifth-grade students back into the classroom,” said Gannon. “This is thanks to a lot of hard work and preparation by our school site teams. As of Monday, all nine of our elementary schools and Harvest Park Preschool have reopened fully for hybrid learners. We look forward to Thursday, when we will welcome our middle and high school hybrid learners back to the classroom.”

Dublin Prepares for March 18 Return

In Dublin, plans are underway to welcome back elementary students beginning March 18. Currently, the district has no specific schedule for secondary grades. Transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students will return on March 18; first – third grades will return on March 22; and fourth and fifth grades will return on March 25.

Students can choose to stay in distance learning, go into the district’s am/pm hybrid learning model, or stay with their teacher, regardless of which program the teacher chooses.

“A lot of the feedback we got from the community was that they just want to be with their teacher; they don’t want disruption in that regard,” said Chip Dehnert, Dublin’s public information officer.

For more information on LVJUSD’s reopening plans, visit https://www.livermoreschools.org/reopening.

For more information on Pleasanton Unified School District, visit https://www.pleasantonusd.net/.

For more information on Dublin Unified School District, visit https://www.dublinusd.org/.