California schools will not reopen this school year, as announced yesterday by California Governor Gavin Newsom during a COVID-19 update.
“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” said Newsom.
Along with this news, the Santa Clara County superintendents, along with other Bay Area school districts, jointly announced an extension of the school campus closures through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“Our county superintendents are taking a safety first approach and immediate action to extend the school facility closures through the end of the school year,” said Santa Clara Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp in a letter to the community.
On March 31, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released a statement that announced that schools will not reopen to students this school year.
“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year. In order to allow schools to plan accordingly, and to ensure that learning still occurs until the end of the school year, we are suggesting that schools plan and prepare to have their curriculum carried out through a distance learning model. This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.”
Thurmond continued to say that, “we are in unprecedented times, and it’s hard to tell what the future holds as we are all doing our best to flatten the curve. From what we know right now, our schools will be closed longer than we originally thought, and it will be best if our schools are prepared for that extension, by having their distance learning models prepared to go until the end of the school year.”
Dr. Kemp clarified that the 2019-2020 school year is not over. However, she emphasized that this new guidance means that SCUSD will continue to strengthen their distance learning program.
Dr. Kemp said the District is extremely concerned about the social and emotional well-being of all of SCUSD students and staff. She said they are working on ways to stay connected even at a distance.
“We also know that many students, especially our seniors who we know were looking forward to celebrating promotion and graduation ceremonies, are very concerned about missing out on momentous celebrations and milestones,” said Dr. Kemp in her letter. “Please know that district leaders are planning how we might offer these experiences in different formats. In the coming days and weeks, we will provide you with information regarding grades, graduation, transcripts, scholarships, summer school, and important calendar events such as spring break.”
For SCUSD students that are feeling additional stress and anxiety during, they can speak with wellness counselors by filling out a request form on the Wellness Check In Appointments webpage.
Thurmond’s statement said that they are planning webinars that will focus on topics like serving students with disabilities in a distance learning model.
Yesterday, the state Superintendent office already released guidance on grading and graduation for seniors. The guidance addresses A-G requirements and provides admissions updates for higher education for both current seniors and juniors.
“All seniors who are on track for graduation should be able to graduate,” said State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond. “This new guidance further illustrates how students can and should be held harmless in grading, and how their work can be acknowledged.”
In light of the extended closures, California has developed an agreement between teachers, classified employees, school boards, superintendents and principals to provide distance learning to students.
Additionally, Governor Newsom announced a partnership with Google to provide mobile hotspots and Chromebooks to students in rural areas to facilitate distance learning. Google will be donating Chromebooks and will fund the use of 100,000 donated mobile hotspots to provide free and unlimited high-speed Internet connectivity for the remainder of the school year. The California Department of Education will be distributing these resources, prioritizing rural communities.
Superintendent Thurmond also announced yesterday that $100,000,000 in funding will be distributed to local educational agencies throughout the state. The funding was included in Senate Bill 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the California Legislature on March 17.
When it comes to meals, Darling-Hammond confirmed that the federal government approved a waiver to support and expand the grab-and-go meal programs that many districts, like SCUSD, already have.
As of March 31, there are 8,155 positive cases and 171 deaths in the State of California. Approximately 90,100 tests had been conducted. At least 31,038 results have been received and another 59,100 are pending.
UPDATE: On April 3, Kemp confirmed that the SCUSD school year calendar is not changing. Spring break will go on, as planned, April 13 – April 17. Meal services will continue during the break. The last day of school will be June 3.
“Other important updates are coming soon regarding grading and how we will handle graduation ceremonies,” said Kemp.