One month before the start of the new school year, San Diego Unified school leaders and educators have released details of a plan to continue student growth and learning online. For students, the learning experience will feel similar, in many ways, to a traditional school year. San Diego Unified’s plans were created over weeks of discussions among parents, students, educators, and administrators, culminating in a formal agreement announced today by San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association.
San Diego Unified will open the school year Aug. 31 with the new online education initiative for students that is as close as possible to pre-COVID classroom experience, including:
* A six-hour school day with customized learning experiences for each K-12 student
* All students will have daily, live interaction with their teachers via video conferencing
* Custom learning experiences will be based on student needs and will include daily live, online instruction (up to three hours), independent learning (at least two hours), working with other students in small groups or participating in educator office hours (at least one hour)
* All Elementary students will receive instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, and the arts
* Students will receive grades to measure their progress.
“We continue working to bring all students back to campus as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so. In the meantime, we must ensure our students continue to learn and make academic progress,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten.
Superintendent Marten said the district will continue working on access and providing free computers and Wi-Fi service to families that need them. In the spring, San Diego Unified provided more than 50,000 Chromebook computers to allow students the ability to work from home. More than 97 percent of students logged into their classes during that time.
The changes to online learning were designed after hundreds of hours of conversations with parents via online Zoom calls. Students, educators, school administrators and community stakeholders also participated in the summer-long engagement and planning process. The result of these conversations contributed to an agreement signed today by the school district and SDEA. Highlights of the agreement with educators include:
* Teachers and non-classroom educators will continue to work a full, standard workday
* Educators will hold office hours, organize small-group instruction and provide students with feedback on their learning
* Educators will have added flexibility to account for the challenges of online instruction
* Educator growth and progress will be supported.
“All San Diego educators long for the day they can be back in class with their students, but the COVID-19 crisis has made that impossible for now,” said Kisha Borden, SDEA president. “I am proud of the work we’ve done to make improvements to online learning that puts the emphasis on the quality of instruction, and creates space for meaningful parent and family engagement during this time of crisis.”
The president of the San Diego Unified Parent Teacher Association, Mahogany Taylor, believes parents will also be pleased with the details of the new online learning plan. This spring, many parents expressed frustration with the challenges of learning multiple software platforms to maintain contact with the school. San Diego Unified announced plans to limit the number of platforms parents will need to use.
“Online learning is going to be better because parents helped design it,” Taylor said. “There will be many challenges to overcome this school year, both those that are currently known and those that are yet to come. But students, families, and district personnel have repeatedly shown the courage, flexibility, and teamwork necessary to make this year successful.”
To support student, parent, and educator success in the new online environment for the new academic year, San Diego Unified has planned a boot camp to help everyone adapt. Both educators and students will spend the first week of the new school year receiving differentiated learning opportunities to become stronger teachers and learners in the online world.
San Diego Unified leaders will release additional details of the online learning plan for the fall on Aug. 10, the same day on which the district plans to provide the next public assessment of when it will be safe to physically reopen. The school system is working with health experts from the University of California, San Diego to plan, refine and implement on-campus safety protocols for the eventual return of students and teachers to the classroom.