In this time of unprecedented school closures and swift changes, Carpinteria Unified School District is challenged to continue the education and support for our students and families. On March 13, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order ensuring California public school districts retain state funding even in the event of physical closure.
The order also provides that school districts must: continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students through remote (online) learning and independent study; safely provide school meals; to the extent practicable, arrange for supervision for students during ordinary school hours; and continue to pay employees.
“Closing schools has a massive, cascading effect for our kids and their families—especially those least equipped financially to deal with them. The needs of California kids must be met regardless of whether their school is open or closed. School districts that choose to close must use state educational dollars to quickly meet the needs of children and families. The state of California is working around the clock to help those districts and provide best practices to ensure no kid is left behind.”
CUSD administrators, teachers and staff are working together to rapidly transition from classroom to online instruction at home during the extended school closures.
Clearly, remote learning cannot replace daily classroom/school experiences, however, students and families will benefit from ongoing learning and connections with teachers and classmates. Not all teachers are experienced with online instructional tools and resources, and they will need time to develop their proficiency with remote learning.
One of our biggest challenges though is that 56 percent of our families are socioeconomically disadvantaged and lack computers and internet access at home. At Carpinteria High School, each student was issued a district laptop for school/home use. At the SEALS Special Education Program, Carpinteria Middle School, and the elementary schools, we will be distributing classroom laptops to families who need them. We purchased 500 additional laptops as well as WiFi hotspots for families without access to the internet. These are “extraordinary costs” associated with the pandemic and school closures, and we are spending reserves to provide remote learning. We are grateful for our partners, Carpinteria Education Foundation and Chevron, who are donating funds towards these costs.
To ensure equitable remote learning opportunities for all students, including Special Education and English Language Learners, CUSD administrators and teachers are using a variety of online platforms including Google Applications for Education, video conferencing, E-Books, virtual bulletin boards, virtual field trips, chrome extensions, animal live cams, Khan Academy and district software. A list of resources may be found at the California Department of Education cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/coronavirus.asp.
Virtual counseling and speech therapy are also provided for those students with special needs. In addition to remote learning, CUSD administrators and cafeteria leaders are providing daily “grab ‘n’ go” curbside sack lunches at Aliso and Canalino, 12-1 p.m., during the school closures.
We will continue to support students and families during this stressful and challenging time while ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and employees. CUSD stands ready to serve our educational community.