The San Diego Unified School District begins its hard launch of distance learning on Monday. Grades will now count but students can't do worse than the grades they had when schools were closed, they can only do better.
When the soft launch started three weeks ago, the district estimated it would distribute 40,000 laptops to students who needed them. As of Thursday, the district had delivered 47,000 laptops. The district also trained teachers using distance learning. So far, there have been 15,000 hours of professional development for teachers and nearly 90% of students are connecting online.
“The year needs to count for our students,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten during a news conference on ZOOM. “This can’t mean a lost year for our students.”
"The fact that they’re being graded again is good I think its gonna make it count more. We’re really interested to see next week how that changes things," said Johner Riehl, who has two sons in elementary school.
Marten also said teachers have been reaching out to their students during the soft launch.
"The district is doing a good job of putting out information, putting out opportunities for the kids to learn," said Christina Riehl, who has two sons in elementary school.
President of the teachers union Kisha Borden said teachers know face-to-face instruction is the best for students, but that is not an option.
“This is an emergency. This is a crisis in teaching. So while this has disrupted connections between educators and students, this cannot, and will not end our relationship with students," she said.
The three-week soft launch was not easy, given that San Diego Unified is the second-largest district in the state and the largest in the county.
“Make no doubt about it, this was a heavy lift,” said Board President John Lee Evans.
President of the Administrators Association Doris Coronel said this has been a difficult time for principals and vice-principals who have been reaching out to students who did not get online.
Board trustee Richard Barrera said the community needs to rally around families, as well as rally the federal government to fund education.
“Our families are in crisis right now, more than they’ve been in the past,” he said. "We are going to see potentially the greatest hit ever to the public school in the history of this district.”
Barrera encouraged the community to call Congress to let their representatives know public education is the largest employer in the country. Barrera said the San Diego Unified School District received less than one half of one percent of the money allocated to schools nationwide in the first stimulus package.