Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
School Opening Update
In the effort to provide a high-quality education to the community’s children, Canyons District has hired 199 benefit-eligible employees for the school year that starts on Monday, Aug. 24. This information was presented as part of an update for the Board of Education on the District’s Back-to-School Action Plan, which was developed with guidance from the Utah Governor’s Office and the Utah Board of Education. Canyons administrators in recent days have been making teaching-assignment decisions, either for classroom or online instruction, based on enrollment data obtained through Online Registration, which started on July 27. So far, 24,603 CSD students have registered for in-person learning. Some 7,104 are taking advantage of the online learning option. However, even week before school starts, nearly 2,000 students have not registered for a learning option. Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board on the plans to provide online learning at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. Dr. Roderick-Landward said student work in the online courses will be graded using pre-COVID-19 grading scales. She also said attendance will not be recorded in Skyward, but a lack of activity will trigger CSD attendance processes. The teachers who were selected for the online teaching assignments are being provided professional development, Roderick-Landward said, and parents this week will receive an Online Learning Start-up Packet. An orientation will be held for parents on the first two days of school. Parents who have selected to guide their child’s learning at home with support from the District will be able to go to parentconnections.com, a website developed by Canyons’ curriculum specialists, for information and assistance. An instruction guide, as well as how-to videos and a suggested schedule for instruction, will be provided to these families. Special Education Director Misty Suarez also discussed how services will be provided in all learning formats. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board that hand sanitizer and masks will be available on the buses, which will be cleaned in between routes. A cleaning crew also will disinfect each bus midday and evening with hypochlorous acid. The thorough cleaning of schools and buses is to help further the downward or relatively stagnant trend of COVID-19 cases in most neighborhoods in Canyons District. As part of the return-to-school plan, and with guidance from health authorities, CSD’s Responsive Services Department has continued to update the processes for reporting and responding to COVID-19 cases. Responsive Services Director BJ Weller also provided information on the requirement of students and teachers to wear snug face coverings, unless medically exempted, while on CSD property, including buses.
Region 17 PTA presented a “big check” to the Board of Education for $1,004,251. The dollar amount represents what the District would have had to pay employees to do the work undertaken by PTA volunteers in the previous year. At last count, 4,804 men and women have registered to be volunteers in Canyons schools this year. Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards said this year’s number of volunteers has dropped significantly, likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, volunteers have stepped up in recent days to help put together kits for the students in the online learning option and the Tools for Schools donation drive. Edwards also reported on the Region 17 PTA fall training and a recent lunch with elected officials who represent Canyons neighborhoods.
Early Literacy Plan
Canyons will put into place strategies to address any literacy-skill achievement slides that came as a result of last spring’s COVID-19-related “soft closure” of Utah schools. In a presentation about the District’s Early Literacy Plan, Dr. Roderick-Landward said CSD is setting the goal to increase the percentage of kindergarten students who are proficient in word fluency and correct letter sounds from middle of the year to end of the year by 4 percent and the percentage of first-grade students who are proficient in word fluency and the ability to read whole words by 22 percent. In 2018-2019, CSD kindergarten students achieved a 2 percent increase, and first-graders saw a 20 percent increase in those measures.
Proposal for Communication, Translation Platform
User-friendly technological tools to facilitate communication between classrooms teachers and parents who do not speak English as their primary language are being studied and evaluated for possible use in CSD schools. Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling presented options to the Board of Education. The Board asked for more information.
The Board of Education approved the minutes of the Aug. 4, 2020 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; and July financial reports.
The Board of Education approved policy updates governing sexual harassment, student attendance, employee conduct and professionalism, and School Community Councils.
Superintendent, Business Administrators Reports
Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins remarked on the hard work, dedication and courage of the teachers, faculty and staff who are preparing to begin teaching in the “new normal.” He also noted the importance of keeping the needs students, who have not been in classes since March, foremost in mind as CSD returns to school. He thanked the Board for its support and staff members for working so hard to safely launch a school year during a pandemic.
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the receipt of the state-provided Personal Protective Equipment. Schools should receive them before the end of this week, he said. Schools also should receive additional hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. He noted that skylights have been installed in seven schools this summer. Work also continues on the parking lot project at Draper Elementary, he said, and the fire marshal has granted CSD occupancy at the new Midvalley Elementary, the completion of which was celebrated last week at a virtual ribbon-cutting party. Wilcox said 25 portable air-conditioning units have been given to Union Middle, which is slated for reconstruction in coming years. Construction also continues at Brighton, Hillcrest and Alta high schools.
Board of Education Reports
Mrs. Clareen Arnold remarked on the start of school and what could have been done if we would “have had a crystal ball.” She also remarked on academic challenges of students who miss a significant amount of school while also acknowledging the wellness concerns of teachers. She said the community is “doing this together” and urged patrons and employees to listen and empathize with others’ positions regarding the return to school. She thanked the entire community for the preparations for the coming school year.
Mr. Steve Wrigley said he misses the traditions surrounding the first year of school. He said he’s never seen employees work harder in the 10 years that he’s been on the Board. He urged the community, including CSD employees, to encourage and lift up each other during this uncertain time. He asked parents to do temperature and symptom checks before sending their children to school.
Mr. Chad Iverson said he is grateful for the work that has been done to start school. He thanked the administration, teachers, nd support staff for their efforts.
Mrs. Amber Shill asked the community to show grace, extend kindness, and assume each others’ positive intent as Canyons returns to school. She thanked all employees for their hard work to launch the school year.
Mrs. Amanda Oaks said the brain’s fight-or-flight response is being trigged by the upheaval in the world around us. She urged community members to be sources of calm and kindness to help ease any tensions. She thanked Canyons employees for their contributions in building a plan that provides several learning options for students.
Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked Mr. Tolman for his remarks during Patron Comment. He expressed appreciation for his fellow Board members for the vigorous debate and discussion about the Back-to-School Plan, which he said changed and improved after every discussion. He noted the virtual ribbon-cutting at Midvalley Elementary, and said the school is a “great addition” to his community.
President Tingey expressed appreciation to Board members for recognizing the tremendous amount of work to plan for the school year. She noted that no job position hasn’t been affected by the new reality. President Tingey said she’s inspired by CSD employees and patrons who have been so engaged and invested in a safe return to school. She hopes the first day represents the beginning of a bright, new future, even in an unprecedented time. She also remarked the ribbon-cutting at Midvalley Elementary and an inspiring mask-up video created by Brighton High students.
Canyons Education Association President Erika Bradshaw asked the Board to consider revising the school schedule. The CEA requests a Monday-through-Thursday class schedule as students return this fall. The association also asks for shortened days at the outset of the year. In addition, Bradshaw reported that teachers leading online classes are concerned about expectations and supports in that format.
Parent Ron Tolman encouraged the Board to continue forward with the reopening plan that includes in-person learning Monday through Friday. He noted the vast majority of parents in Canyons have opted for the in-person learning option.