At the July 16, 2020 special Board of Education meeting, the board voted unanimously to start the school year using only distance learning.
After months of evaluating options, exploring hybrid plans that would include both distance and in-person learning models, and constantly monitoring outbreak numbers from the Department of Public Health, the board agreed with Superintendent Leslie Lockhart’s recommendation to keep students off-campus to open the school year.
“I know this is a disappointment to some parents and students, but our goal continues to focus on bringing our students and staff safely back to school campuses, and we don’t believe that is possible given the recent and continuing spike in COVID-19 cases,” Lockhart said. “But I want to assure parents and students that distance learning in the fall will not be the same as distance learning at the outset of the pandemic in March.”
Ms.Lockhart and the school board made it clear that the summer has, and continues to be, spent on creating a robust learning experience for students with increased teacher and peer interaction and more virtual face-to-face time to improve the learning experience. In fact, the district is bound by the recently passed bill AB77, which provides that all California school districts must:
Provide 180 days of instruction (the same as a traditional school year).
Confirm that all students have access to a computer and internet in order to participate in distance learning.
Provide daily live interaction with teachers and classmates “for the purposes of instruction, progress monitoring and maintaining school connectedness.”
Provide standards-aligned content that is substantially equivalent to in-person instruction.
Document daily student participation and communicate with parents for students not participating a minimum of three days per week.
Establish procedures to re-engage students who are absent for more than 60% of instruction per week.
Maintain regular communication with parents on student progress.
Provide professional development for parents to support their children in distance learning.
Provide additional academic support for English learners, students with disabilities, foster youth, homeless students and students who have fallen behind in their academic progress.
Continue special education services.
Provide professional development for staff to support distance learning.
With consultation from all stakeholders, develop a Learning Continuity and Attendance plan describing how they will respond to the impact of the coronavirus on in-school and distance learning, learning loss and students’ mental health.
“We are committed to providing the best learning environment possible given these unprecedented times,” Lockhart said. “We are looking especially at providing targeted intervention services for our most vulnerable students and families who need extra help and additional services during this time. We want to make sure all of Culver City’s children continue to learn to the best of their ability even though we will be starting the year online and not in the classroom.”
Lockhart added that she and her team are working closely with teachers and staff to make sure they are safe and supported throughout the process as the board looks to ultimately return students to the classroom.
“This ‘return-to-school process’ changes daily,” she said. “Truly, agility and our ability to be nimble in the face of constantly changing circumstances will be the key as we move forward. I want to thank everyone – our CCUSD teachers, staff, parents, students, and the community – for your patience and care. We know these are difficult times, but together, we will get through them.”