SFUSD Begins Teacher-Led Interactive Distance Learning
San Francisco (April 13, 2020) - The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is officially launching teacher-led interactive distance learning for all PreK-12 students today. Teaching will include both digital and non-digital options for students to engage in learning at home as their circumstances allow. SFUSD continues to emphasize to families that it supports parents and guardians in prioritizing wellness and wellbeing for themselves and their children.
With distance learning, instruction is a strategic combination of educational, enrichment, and social-emotional activities that teaches students content related to essential grade level and course standards, reviews previously-taught content, engages students in independent and collaborative projects, and provides opportunities for independent skills practice. While SFUSD students have had access to online resources over the past several weeks, a critical shift this week is that teachers, who know their classes and students best, interact and lead the learning. In this phase, students reconnect with the adults and peers who make up the community that they’ve known for the past several months and beyond.
“Even though our school buildings are closed, the school year continues,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “Everyone in SFUSD has been working incredibly hard to ensure that as a district we are able to serve all of our students as we transition to this next phase of education from home. We want students to know that their teachers and other adults care about them and will be engaging with them to provide a well-rounded home learning experience to the greatest extent possible over the course of school closures.”
Since closing schools on March 16, SFUSD began implementing a phased-in plan to provide equitable learning opportunities for each and every student for as long as schools remain closed. The teacher-led distance learning that begins today represents the third phase.
“It is important to us that students continue to make progress in their learning,” SF Board of Education President Mark Sanchez said. “At the same time, we know this pandemic is impacting families in different ways. Students should engage in work as their circumstances and resources allow.”
For the first few weeks of closures, the district shared home learning resources that included PK-12 grade level materials across a variety of subjects with added support for English learners, students with disabilities, and diverse populations. Students have also been provided with instructions for accessing Google Classroom and other district-approved digital learning resources, along with guidance on engaging with peers and teachers to create meaningful learning experiences.
Reaching each and every student
With this third phase of learning, teachers of students in 3rd grade through 12th grade will be teaching lessons mostly online. SFUSD is working to expand access to the internet to the greatest extent possible for the SFUSD community in order to make distance learning possible and to stay connected.
SFUSD estimates that up to 10,000 students need devices and 5,000 need WiFi access. To address this digital divide, SFUSD has distributed more than 9,100 Chromebooks to students so far and will continue to deploy devices this week. SFUSD has also distributed hotspots to families, which are able to support multiple students in the same household and shared information with families about ways they can sign-up for free or low-cost internet service. Schools will communicate with students in 3rd through 12th grades who still don’t have a way to access online instruction, or for whom online learning is not appropriate for their learning, about receiving printed learning materials to do at home.
For students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or are an English learner, their teacher will work with Special Education teachers and other resource teachers and modify the lessons according to their specific needs. Special Education teachers are connecting with each family to develop a Distance Learning Plan.
For PreK-2 families, learning kits are available for pick-up at designated school sites this week. Each family should expect communication from their teacher to check in, provide feedback, and support lessons and activities for students to do using their learning kit. Some PreK-2nd grade classrooms may also do some lessons and activities on computers or tablets or phones.
While SFUSD serves about a quarter of the PreK student population in San Francisco, as part of supporting all preschool children with learning, the district is making learning packets available to PreK students who are served by other organizations that are closed during the shelter in place. SFUSD is also posting learning materials online so they can be distributed to early education partners more easily and reach more families.
Combination of districtwide and teacher-led
Each school is developing its version of a distance learning plan and schedule while the Curriculum and Instruction teams at SFUSD’s Central Office have created options for teachers to use including schedules, lesson plans, learning activities, and resources, which are available to teachers and other site-based educators.
Whether a student is in kindergarten or high school, they should receive about 4 hours of activities and assignments to do each day. This includes lessons from the teacher and also independent activities that the teacher provides to students. For any work that a teacher wants their student to turn in, students working with an electronic device can turn that work in using Google Classroom or SeeSaw. For students working with a learning kit at home, parents will be asked to take a picture of their child’s work and text or email it to the teacher.
The safety and security of students is a top priority for SFUSD as the district transitions to learning in a more virtual environment. SFUSD has selected a suite of tools and platforms that support communication and collaboration needs while ensuring student data and information privacy, and is providing recommendations, training, and support for teachers and staff in order to prepare them to safely facilitate digital learning experiences.
Go to sfusd.edu/continuouslearning for more information about SFUSD’s Distance Learning Plan.