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One School District’s Comprehensive Plan to Safely Open and Support Students

By German Freiwald September 15, 2020

How Madera Unified School District is Protecting its Community

To say back to school looks different this year would be an understatement. School and district leaders have been working tirelessly over the past few months to prepare for a safe school year. And Madera Unified School District — a California school district with over 20,000 students and 2,200 staff — is leading the way to protect and support its community while keeping learning front and center.

Guided by a powerful vision of setting the standard for hard work, creativity, and resiliency with a fearless drive to continuously improve, Madera Unified’s leadership team collaborated closely with local health officials to develop comprehensive back-to-school plans. Once they knew students would start the year with distance learning, they worked to bring teachers and staff back in person safely to conduct live, virtual lessons from their classrooms.

“A big sticking point for our leadership team was that if we can’t have staff physically return to school safely, how can we even begin to talk about students returning to school safely?” says Babatunde Ilori, Executive Director of Accountability and Communications at Madera Unified.

The district put various protocols in place to bring staff back to school, but found it challenging to ensure adherence without the proper technology in place.

Using Technology to Bring Staff Back to School Safely

Temperature check at Madera Unified School District school

Photo: Courtesy of Madera Unified School District

Madera Unified quickly needed a solution to track employee wellness and gain a comprehensive view of data to manage the complexities associated with bringing staff back in person. With Education Cloud for K-12 already in place to manage communications and family engagement, the district turned to Salesforce. In just two weeks, Madera Unified worked with Servio, a certified Salesforce implementation partner, to launch Salesforce’s solutions — Wellness Check and Command Center — to easily track health data for over 2,200 school employees.

“The safety of our students, families, and staff is our top priority. We chose Salesforce’s solutions to ensure that we would be able to track self-reported COVID-19 symptoms and exposure on a daily basis,” says Ilori.

Each staff member completes a daily wellness check with Salesforce technology to self-assess and record whether they show or have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, based on the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Madera Unified then uses Salesforce to execute a series of protocols depending on the wellness check results, which are only available to members of their pandemic planning committee to ensure data security, safety, and privacy.

An educator for Madera Unified School District teaches students remotely.

An educator for Madera Unified School District teaches students remotely.

“We’re now able to leverage reports and dashboards that help us make data-driven decisions to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread and make learning as safe as possible for our community,” says Ilori. “Staff feel more supported and safe at work, and they are able to focus on providing an excellent learning experience for our students,” he adds.

Madera Unified’s team is prepared to continuously evolve and adapt as the school year progresses, with the potential of hybrid learning starting in the near future. The district is looking to use Salesforce’s Contact Tracing solution to help with continued management of the pandemic and to communicate quickly with anyone who is impacted.

Providing Students and Families with Equitable Support

While Madera Unified has taken every possible precaution to ensure the safety of its staff, it’s equally focused on supporting students and families. Over the past four weeks, their team conducted listening sessions with families to see how they can best provide support. With over 90% of the district’s students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch and COVID-19 disproportionately impacting lower-income communities in a myriad of ways, the need for coordinated wraparound services is greater than ever before.

“Now more than ever, we need to be there for our students. They need additional support — social-emotional, academic, and more. The range is wide. Bullying doesn’t stop because of shelter in place, it just happens in a different form. And we’re hearing from families that students need more resources to learn effectively from home,” says Ilori. “We need to leverage technology to ensure we’re deploying the right support to the right students based on their individual needs,” he adds.

To ensure students receive all of the support services they need in a timely fashion, whether virtually or in person, Madera Unified is partnering with Salesforce to deploy an early release of Student Success Hub for K-12 — an exciting new product that will help schools deliver equitable and holistic student support from anywhere.

“We’re taking a powerful, secure platform we’re comfortable with and using it to provide safe and equitable support for our school community,” says Ilori. “It’s important that we continue to innovate and come out on the other side of the pandemic stronger than we were before.”

To learn more about how schools and districts can provide equitable and safe support for students and staff, visit Student Success Hub for K-12 and for Schools.

About the Author

Germán Freiwald, K-12 Industry Solutions Director at

Germán Freiwald, K-12 Industry Solutions Director

As the K-12 Industry Solutions Director at, Germán Freiwald works to find and understand unmet needs in schools and districts. He then guides his team through a process of developing human-centered solutions that build upon Salesforce’s world-class technology in a way that is specialized to best serve schools.

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