The Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District held an emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees on March 23 for the sole purpose of passing Resolution 1920-17. This short fifteen-minute meeting started just after 5:30 p.m. and was conducted by teleconference because of the social distancing and shelter in-place guidelines currently in effect. The resolution passed on a vote of 5-0.
This resolution is based on input from the Sonoma County Office of Education. This was provided to Superintendent Michael Watenpaugh by Superintendent of Sonoma County Schools, Dr. Steve Herrington. The purpose of the resolution was to have the school board declare that emergency conditions exist at the schools and offices within the district. Doing so then allowed them to grant authorization to Watenpaugh to take all necessary actions to prepare and respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic for the school district.
Watenpaugh used as an example the purchase of Chrome Books. These are required to facilitate planned distance learning efforts and ensure that students can continue their learning from home while they are sheltering in place. Currently the district has about 2,000 of these laptops available for check out by students that do not have access to computers in their homes. The district believes that number will be insufficient and more may need to be purchased during this emergency. By passing the resolution, it allows Watenpaugh to make that decision. He can obtain additional Chrome Books quickly without having to advertise and invite bids from vendors which is usually required during more normal times. It also means he doesn’t have to get school board approval for such a purchase. However, Watenpaugh stated he would consult with Board President Leffler Brown before exercising this newly granted emergency authority.
The authority also allows Watenpaugh to take any necessary action to ensure continuation of public education, protect the health and safety of the students at district sites to include relocation of district resources, make provisions for alternative educational programs and direct staff as disaster service workers as needed. Examples of essential staff currently includes the IT staff, custodians and food service personnel.
Another example of the district’s response involves providing two free meals a day to all students up to age 18. That started March 23, at the following locations: Technology Middle School at 7165 Burton Avenue; Lawrence Jones Middle School at 5154 Snyder Lane and,Rancho Cotate High School at 5450 Snyder Lane. Families can report to those sites with their students between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m to pick up these “Grab-N-Go” meals. The food service teams are practicing social distancing for the protection of themselves and the community. Remaining six feet apart, they place the meals on a table and stand back while the families pick up their meals.
Today only 265 meals were picked up although the team was prepared for many more to be passed out. The board expressed a concern that the word wasn’t getting out about this meal program. So, please consider sharing this information on your social media networks such as Facebook or Next-Door Neighborhood. If you have any questions, please contact the school district my email or phone.
The teachers, district staff and other support staff are working hard to try and minimize the impacts of school closures during this pandemic. A good source of additional information is the school district’s website at: crpusd.org/news. Check the “What’s New” tab for updated information. As stated in Watenpaugh’s letter to parents “This is an evolving situation and our ability to transition to distance learning is also a work-in-progress, changing day-by-day. It is critical that you check your email daily for updates from the district as well as site leadership.”