Letter from Superintendent regarding AB/SB 130: Independent Study Program Options at AUSD

 

Dear Albany School Community,


I hope you are enjoying a restful, happy, and healthy summer break. As we finalize preparations for the start of school next month, I have some important information about the two instructional options that are available to you.


Albany schools are ready to enthusiastically welcome back all students for full, in-person instruction five-days a week when the school year begins on August 17. We will also be providing an independent study option for those students who are medically fragile and need to remain in remote learning. The State of California has recently announced specific guidance for independent study in the 2021-2022 school year detailed below. If you are not interested in the remote independent study program and are planning to have your child(ren) return for in-person instruction, you may disregard the rest of this communication and there is no action that you need to take. However, those interested in the independent study will need to take action quickly and should continue to read this entire message. 


AB/SB 130 Independent Study Program Details

Earlier this month, Assembly and Senate Bill (AB/SB) 130 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, defining changes to independent study requirements for all school districts for the upcoming school year. The purpose of the Independent Studies Program is to provide an option for medically fragile students who may be adversely affected by attending in-person school. Under AB/SB 130, all families will have (1) the option to choose an independent study option for their child(ren), and (2) the right to request a pupil/parent/educator conference meeting prior to enrollment in the independent study program. Students with IEPs must have Independent Study included in their IEP to be enrolled in the remote independent study program. 


This letter explains:

  • Your right to request a parent-educator conference prior to enrollment to inform your decision.
  • The process and your students’ rights regarding procedures for enrolling, disenrolling, and re-enrolling in independent study. 
  • The asynchronous and synchronous instructional modes that your student will have access to as part of independent study.

Requesting a Parent-Educator Conference

It is your right to request a parent-educator conference prior to enrolling your student in Independent Study in order to inform your decision and ensure that it is appropriate for your student. Request a conference by emailing the Principal at your student’s school. 

Albany High School/MacGregor High School: Darren McNally: dmcnally@ausdk12.org

Albany Middle School: Deborah Bril: dbrill@ausdk12.org

Cornell Elementary School: Liz Reimuller: ereimuller@ausdk12.org

Marin Elementary School: Melisa Pfohl: mpfohl@ausdk12.org

Ocean View Elementary School: Michelle Sinclair: msinclair@ausdk12.org


Enrolling, Disenrolling & Re-Enrolling


Students enrolled in the AUSD remote independent study program will: 

  • have access to courses that ensure progress towards graduation;
  • attend at least one weekly synchronous session with a AUSD teacher;
  • not have access to the same range of courses as they would in-person for grades 6–12;
  • not receive instruction from teachers currently teaching in the in-person program; and
  • be able to return to in-person instruction given five days’ notice to the District. 

Instructional Modes for Different Grades 

The goal of our independent study program is to provide an alternative to in-person instruction to students whose health may be adversely affected by attending class face-to-face.  There are specific requirements that may include both synchronous and asynchronous work.

"Synchronous instruction" means classroom-style instruction or designated small group or one-on-one instruction delivered in person, or in the form of internet (Zoom) or telephonic communications and involving live, two-way communication between the teacher and student. Synchronous instruction will be provided by the teacher of record for that student.

"Live interaction" means interaction between the student and school staff, and may include peers. It is provided for the purpose of maintaining school connectedness, including but not limited to: wellness checks, progress monitoring, provision of services and instruction. This interaction may take place in person or in the form of internet (Zoom) or telephonic communication. 
“Asynchronous instruction" means work that the student does on their own, either on paper, or using other physical items, or on electronic devices. 

Independent Study in the 2021-2022 School Year will consist of:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3 — daily synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year.
  • Grades 4 to 8 — both daily live interaction and at least weekly synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year. 
  • Grades 9 to 12 — at least weekly synchronous instruction for all students throughout the school year. 
These expectations will also be outlined in the students’ written Learning Agreement, which must be signed prior to enrollment. The exact amount of time spent in these modes for the different grade ranges is not available at this time. AUSD expects to announce this in early August.

For those families who are interested in the remote independent study program, we will be holding an informational Town Hall Zoom webinar on August 12, 2021 at 6pm: https://ausdk12-org.zoom.us/j/95654323388. We ask that you please attend this webinar for more information on the independent study program if you are interested in this option. The webinar will also be recorded for those that cannot attend. 


As we are assigning our limited teaching staff to their classes for next year, we need to know who will be in independent study as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for understanding that the District was forced to wait until the legislation regarding independent study was passed so that we could present you with factual information regarding the structure and content of the program. We realize that having to make a decision such as this in a short period of time is stressful, and we would have greatly preferred a much longer lead time. We ask for your patience as we continue to navigate these new state requirements.


To enroll your child(ren) in independent study you must submit this form: Independent Study Enrollment Form. AUSD will only be able to ensure that your child will start the school year as a registered Independent Study student if the form is submitted by August 5, 2021. For those students in need of an independent study option, we look forward to educating them online this year!


Stay hopeful and encouraged,

 

Frank Wells, Ed.D.

Frank Wells, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Albany Unified School District