For all of us, these last few months have been an emotional roller coaster with information changing almost daily. This unprecedented health crisis makes things difficult to cope with and then there are so many uncertainties about caring for ourselves and our families. Shifting information, new data and research, and shifting health orders all makes things very overwhelming.
Today, I want to let you know that although we had sincerely hoped to bring our students back to school on September 3rd, we have come to the decision that with our current public health situation, it is just not possible at this time. Based on discussions with the Sacramento County Office of Education and the Sacramento County Department of Public Health, we determined that we will start our academic year on September 3 with students participating in school remotely through distance learning.
We can’t wait to see our students in person again. Unfortunately, It is clear that COVID-19 cases are spiking in California, the lag time between testing and receiving test results is too long, and widespread contact tracing has not been achieved. These are objective standards that we will monitor closely as we determine when we will transition from distance learning to returning physically back to school.
Five months ago, we made the difficult decision to close our schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It was a heartbreaking decision, because our schools are the only safe haven for many of our students. We know so many of our students depend on the support they receive from our schools and can’t continue to suffer the loss of learning. This is why – whether it is distance learning or in person – we are committed to doing all we can to meet our students academic, social and emotional needs. We are committed to providing a distance learning plan that will include high-quality structures to measure student progress, instruction, and accountability to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students. We are focused squarely on closing the variation in quality of distance learning we saw – and that you expressed loudly – across Sac City Unified.
Our proposal provides: That every student can have access to direct live instruction every day with the option of:
- Participating in recorded instruction
- Additional instruction for smaller groups who need additional support
- That every student receive high quality instruction aligned to essential standards, the building blocks of learning
- Assessments for each and every student, both through thoughtful and understanding instruction, and through common assessments to identify student strengths and needs
- Professional learning for all staff on high-quality instruction, the district’s learning platform, Google Classroom, and Universal Design for Learning which assures that all students can access lessons and be successful.
- Accountability to meet the needs of our English Learners and students receiving special education supports.
- Weekly teacher communication; and Monitoring and report of student progress.
In the coming days, we will:
- Continue to conduct outreach with our families, including negotiations with labor partners.
- Continue the development of blended learning models for high-quality teaching and learning and although we may not be returning together in person on September 3, we will develop plans over the next few months for when it is safe once again.
My children attend Sac City Schools, and my family too is feeling the anxiety over how to navigate these uncertain times. And like you, I am deeply disappointed that we will not be returning to school in-person this September. We owe it to our students and families to continue planning for the safe reopening of our schools. Our students cannot afford any additional learning loss.
As we implement a robust distance learning program, we call on everyone to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and urge federal and state policymakers to increase funding for and availability of expanded testing and contact tracing. Thank you for your support! Let’s continue to work together while we navigate these difficult times.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.scusd.edu/return-together