2020 03.24 Letter to Principals. Online Learning

Dear Principals,

On behalf of the San Diego Unified School District team, we acknowledge the continued pressure the COVID-19 crisis has placed on our students, parents, and teaching community and thank you for your continued commitment to your students and innovative ways of staying connected with students and families in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In preparation for potential long-term closures, SDUSD is developing an implementation plan and has reached out to SDEA to ensure that the needs of students and educators are being addressed as we work to deliver continuity of instruction. The district has been providing enrichment opportunities for students during school closure and many of our professional educators have been providing students with inspirational learning at the same time. We have now launched Distance Learning training for our educators. Between now and April 24th, we want our educators to grow in their knowledge, skills and comfort level with distance learning and practice with their students, so both educators and students are comfortable with our official transition from the current enrichment model to a Distance Learning model on April 27, 2020, when grading will resume. IEP timelines and services will resume at that time. More information and guidance will be forthcoming.

Our Distance Learning Plan is founded on the following principles: (1) supporting our educators as they transition to distance learning, (2) providing access for all students, and (3) maintaining teaching and learning. We will provide continuity of learning experiences for our students by providing access to standards based instruction in an innovative approach through self-paced and differentiated learning experiences while creating rich opportunities for families to engage in their child's learning. We will be implementing three models for Distance Learning:

  • District-Provided Instructional Materials with Educator Support - Recommended for schools and educators at the emerging stage of delivering instruction through Distance Learning.
  • Educator-Led Hybrid Instruction - Recommended for schools and educators at the developing stage of delivering instruction through Distance Learning.
  • Educator-Led Blended Instruction - Recommended for schools and educators at the accomplishing stage of delivering instruction through Distance Learning.

We recognize that this transition to Distance Learning may be difficult for our educators and students. As a leader, you may also experience challenges as we transition to this new model of teaching and learning. Now is the time to build our collective capacity in a highly supportive environment where you encourage and support your educators to learn, practice and grow. Your role is to collaborate with each educator to determine the Distance Learning Option that best suits his or her level of proficiency. Additionally, you will collaborate with the district office to ensure that each educator has the tools, curriculum, professional development and support necessary to provide distance learning to all students. Most importantly, you are creating a risk-free, highly supportive environment where all teachers feel safe to acknowledge their proficiency, express their needs and feel comfortable practicing new methods of teaching.

Based on educator survey results and in consultation with SDEA, our district team is developing a robust professional development series that includes time for educators to collaborate and experiment with these teaching tools. As educators gain skills in using these tools they can begin to try them out with students in preparation for engaging in distance learning with all students starting on April 27th (traditional) and May 11 (yearround).

Professional development sessions have been offered since March 17th and will be offered on a continuing basis through April 24th (traditional) and May 8th (year-round). Educators will have a 3-course series of professional development opportunities that include the following:

Course 1: Communication Tools for Collaboration Learn how to use Zoom or Google Meet to collaborate with your peers or connect with students.

Course 2: Hosting Your Class/Session Learn how to use a digital platform to host a class/session.

  • TK-1 Seesaw
  • 2-12 Google Classroom (Basic Level and Next Steps Level)
  • 9-12 Canvas (Basic Level and Next Steps Level)

Course 3: Curriculum Resources Learn more about curriculum resources that you can include in your classroom.

In addition to professional development educators will have access, via virtual office hours, to other educators who have expertise in each of the on-line instructional tools used in our district. Here is the current schedule of professional development opportunities. Additional sessions and topics will be added.

We understand you may have many questions as we navigate through this new chapter of our educational journey. We have included some frequently asked questions with this communication and we invite you to ask us other questions using this link. Although we cannot answer each question personally, we will look for patterns and trends in the questions to develop on-going communication.

We will continue to communicate with you in the coming days, and encourage you to visit our district website daily for more information and updates on this transition. We will also be providing more guidance to non-classroom staff.

With Gratitude,

The San Diego Unified Team