SFUSD Confirms it Will Begin School Year with Distance Learning

SFUSD Confirms it Will Begin School Year with Distance Learning

Press Release

San Francisco (July 15, 2020) - The San Francisco Board of Education received an update on plans for fall learning at its regular meeting Tuesday. After reviewing the best available evidence-based sources of guidance from health officials, and gathering input from staff, students, and families since last spring, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews recommended that the fall semester begin with distance learning and gradually phase in a staggered return once science and data suggest it’s safe to do so. The San Francisco Health Officer has not yet allowed schools to reopen. 

While a more detailed recommendation will go before the Board on July 28, Tuesday’s meeting offered a chance for District leadership to provide a summary update of the fall planning process. This spring and summer, SFUSD has engaged in a robust process to receive feedback and input from staff, students and families. 

Three workgroups are actively convening to discuss Teaching & Learning, Logistics, and Personnel considerations for the fall. Thousands of family members, students and staff joined SFUSD’s seven multilingual online town halls. Staff and family surveys have been shared widely to ensure the entire SFUSD community is offered a chance to weigh in on what their experience was with spring distance learning and what their thoughts and concerns are with fall learning.

“I know this pandemic has been incredibly challenging in so many ways, and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has taken the time to ask a question, share their thoughts, and participate in this process of planning for the fall,” Superintendent Matthews said. “There is a range of viewpoints regarding the best course of action. Hearing from our community is assisting us in creating the most effective plan possible.” 

This fall the district will continue to prioritize three main goals: attending to the wellness and wellbeing of students and families; providing free meals to all students who need them; and engaging each and every student in remote learning opportunities, both digital and non-digital. 

“We had some bright spots but mostly teachers and families suffered. We have to do better, we will do better. We have to use this time leading up to and beyond the opening of schools to make sure we prepare. We have to prioritize the students that we know through distance learning got the least,” Board of Education President Mark Sanchez said. 

After school buildings closed last March, the district set out to provide every student in grades 3-12 who needed it with access to technology at home, including internet access. SFUSD is planning to distribute additional technology to students who did not receive it last spring, including new students to SFUSD, exchanges and replacements, and rising 3rd graders. SFUSD is also exploring how technology access could be provided to PK-2 students in the fall pending available funding. 

District leadership is developing a detailed plan of how distance learning will be improved this fall, and how the district will support families and students next school year. In its plans for the fall, SFUSD will incorporate feedback it has received regarding distance learning. This plan will be shared with the SF Board of Education at their next regular meeting on July 28 at 3:00 p.m.

After closing school buildings in March, SFUSD officially launched teacher-led interactive distance learning on April 13 along with many opportunities for educators to learn and practice skills related to distance learning. Last spring, SFUSD created a distance learning guide for teachers and administrators that is intended, in part, to offer support and resources as teachers and school administrators work with students and families to provide meaningful distance learning opportunities. In the spring, thousands of teachers attended professional development sessions in support of implementing distance learning. 

This summer SFUSD staff have spent time revising professional learning offerings, developing curriculum and resources, and expanding upon principles to guide teaching and learning in the fall to ensure the district is engaging in deeper learning toward SFUSD’s Graduate Profile. These princples include: anti-racist eduction for each and every student, flexibility and fluidity, parntership, humanization, and health and safety.

View the full presentation to the Board of Education here.

###