SFUSD Families Weigh in on Distance Learning

SFUSD Families Weigh in on Distance Learning

Press Release

San Francisco (August 7, 2020) - San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is sharing the results of the District’s Family Distance Learning & Back-to-School Survey and top thoughts shared at its family town halls this summer. 

Three family town halls were hosted online by SFUSD in the first week of July, one in English with multilingual interpretation, one in Spanish and one in Cantonese. Nearly 5,000 tuned in through Facebook Live or SFGovTV and shared on a platform called ThoughtExchange. Families could share answers to questions and rate each other's responses based on how much they agreed, or in the case of questions posed, how much they wanted to discuss a particular question during the town hall.

Many families indicated that health and safety are their top priority when it comes to fall learning. When asked about their biggest concerns from distance learning last spring, one theme was the lack of social interaction their children experienced. Questions and concerns arose regarding how staff would enforce physical distancing, handwashing and other health protocols when schools return in-person to instruction. 

SFUSD also sent out an online family survey, the Family Distance Learning & Back-to-School Survey, in 7 languages. The District shared the survey in emails and texts to families and enlisted the help of parent groups and community agencies working with families. There were nearly 15,000 respondents to the survey, representing 100% of SFUSD’s schools. 

Families were divided in their preferences regarding whether or not they would send their child to in-person learning during the pandemic even if all public health guidelines were followed. The majority of families (59%) said they would send their child to a hybrid (part in-person, part online) while 38% said they would prefer online only for the fall. 

When asked about their child’s experience with distance learning in the spring, 56% of respondents said they were “somewhat,” “quite,” or “extremely” satisfied with distance learning in the spring, and 86% of respondents said their children were “somewhat,” “quite,” or "extremely" confident using a device for learning. Approximately half of all families who responded reported that their child spent no more than two hours a day on school work (17% said less than an hour) and the other half reported their children spent more than two hours a day doing school work. Forty-four percent of families said their child learned much less than they would have in the regular in-person school day. 

“Learning from a distance is challenging and I am so appreciative of the feedback we’ve received from families regarding what they would like to see improved in the fall,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “As we prepare for students’ return, we are prioritizing connections and more live interactions, along with continued support for the wellbeing of each and every student and staff member.”

SFUSD is planning to begin the school year on August 17 with distance learning for all, and hopes to provide a hybrid model (a combination of in-person and distance learning) for some students when science and data suggest it is safe to do so. 

“Schools are places where students get so much –– peer and adult connection, emotional support and hands-on learning. It is challenging to have to provide anything less. I am confident SFUSD staff are working hard to make this fall’s learning experience better than the spring and preparing for when we are able to move into offering some more in-person options,” said Board President Mark Sanchez. 

Throughout the summer SFUSD staff updated and expanded professional learning offerings for educators, developing more 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 education for each and every student, flexibility and fluidity, partnership, humanization, and health and safety.

The family survey results are preliminary as the district is keeping the survey open for more families to participate. Final reports are expected at the end of August.

Links to top rated thoughts from the Family Town Hall Thought Exchanges in English, Spanish, and Chinese and the preliminary family survey results are available online

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