On the evening of Dec. 1, the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) held an informational Zoom meeting for the purpose of briefing parents and students on the planned return to in-person school on Jan. 6, 2021. The meeting was specifically for Redwood and was the first of the district’s meetings for each school. It was run by Principal David Sondheim, who was accompanied by Vice Principals LaSandra White and Saum Zargar, as well as Superintendent Tara Taupier. Sondheim prefaced the meeting by disclaiming that the TUHSD’s plan is not flawless.
“I wish I could tell you there were perfect models out there, but there aren’t. None of us would choose to operate the way we’re operating. We’re responding to what we all know as unprecedented circumstances,” Sondheim said.
Sondheim then presented the district’s three main goals for in-person learning—high-quality learning, equity, and safety—and then stressed the need for students to follow COVID-19 guidelines.
“When we make our holiday plans, we need to do what we’re being asked. Students are not used to wearing masks in public. They need to start now. Students should not be attending sleepovers. They should not be riding in cars with multiple other students and socializing outside their bubble,” Sondheim said.
The meeting progressed to cover a variety of topics, including the three options for the spring semester: in-person, synchronous and asynchronous, the class schedule, preparations made, exposure protocols, mask rules, safety regulations on campus and testing.
A survey sent out to every Redwood family indicated that as of now, about 88 percent of students are expected to be on campus, grouped into three cohorts organized alphabetically.
“I would mention, Mr. Sondheim, that if people did not respond to the survey that they are assumed to be returning in person,” White said.
The daily class schedule will not be affected by the move to the hybrid plan, but the administration provided a detailed schedule for each cohort, created to fit the needs of students.
“[The schedule] was created like this so that two things could happen. Number one, all students who wanted to would be on campus at least one day a week. And secondly, so that when possible, we could also have students be on campus during the semester, sometimes two days in a row,” Sondheim said, referring to a schedule he shared on Zoom.
As for safety protocols, the administration plans on having a six feet distancing regulation at all times possible, plexiglass when students must be close, arrows in the hallways, monitoring classrooms and bathrooms and regular morning check-ins. However, Sondheim explained they have chosen to not take part in the routine temperature checks that sports teams have been doing before each practice, because they have been proved to be more problematic than effective.
Following the presentation, a long period of questioning commenced made up of questions submitted to a form prior to the meeting. The questions remained anonymous, and somebody remarked they believed it to be “ridiculous” that the district is not leaving a two-week quarantine period following winter break, caused by the concern that individuals would be traveling. At this point in the meeting, Taupier, who participated in the meeting by mostly assisting Sondheim with answers, stepped in with a firm response.
“Public health does not recommend postponing,” Taupier said.
Sondheim closed the meeting with an affirmative message, once again urging students to follow guidelines for the safety of everyone on campus.
“[The] best gift that students and parents can give at this point is the one of health and safety. It is what teachers want more than anything, and I think each of us wants that for every student as well, and for your families. So, thank you in advance,” Sondheim said.