EL MONTE – El Monte Union High School District will continue its distance learning program for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester, but is exploring the possibility of developing learning groups (pods) for students most in need, including those in special education programs and English learners. Students in these learning pods will continue distance learning while they are on campus.

The District, which began the 2020-21 school year on a 100% distance learning schedule on Aug. 18, was considering transitioning to a hybrid instructional model for Fall 2 term (Oct. 19 to Dec. 17) if health conditions improved.

While there has been some progress within Los Angeles County, state and county guidelines mandate the continued physical closure of campuses until at least November to ensure the safety of students and staff.

However, the county is permitting on-campus learning pods, which allow districts to provide in-person academic support and targeted specialized or intervention services to small groups of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and English learners.

“We can’t return to schools just yet, but we know that it is critical to provide additional support to our vulnerable student populations that would benefit the most from in-person services,” Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said. “The program will not only gauge how our parents feel about returning to campus, but also provide a valuable blueprint for how we operate instructional services in the future.”

Under the learning pod program – which could begin as early as October – El Monte Union plans to establish small cohorts of no more than 12 students with two supervising adults per group. The number of students on-site may not to exceed 10% of the total student body at any one time.

Cohorts will not be interchangeable; they must remain together for the duration of the program and students cannot be added if the cohort reduces in size due to absence.

The District, which must comply with all provisions for the safe reopening of schools plan provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, has already established a safety plan through its Reopening of Schools Task Force that includes classroom and sanitizing procedures and a safe environment for meal distribution to students. The District continues to work on establishing schedules for the learning pods and providing ongoing parent communication.

The District is also working on providing day care and academic support via it’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) program, LEARN.

The District plans to discuss its instructional schedule for spring semester during a board meeting on Dec. 9.