Distance Learning Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Fall 2020 Distance Learning Guidance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Last updated February 9, 2021

What will Distance Learning look like?

Distance Learning will have two approaches - a digital (device required) and a non-digital (print based and not device dependent) approach.

There are 2 forms of learning in which students may engage during the fall: 

  • Synchronous Instruction/Learning* - A learning event in which students are engaging in learning with an educator at the same time, usually on the computer or telephone. 
    • *Teachers will provide no less than hundred and twenty (120) minutes of synchronous instruction, daily in grades TK-12. 
  • Asynchronous Instruction/Learning - Learning occurring when the teacher and the students interact in different places and during different times. This may be through a prerecorded video, web based lessons, or a series of self paced assignments & projects.

How will my child(ren) get materials for school?

Instructional materials (including devices, texts and other instructional materials) are being distributed directly from the school site. School sites are communicating their distribution dates to their school communities directly.  

What’s my child’s schedule? What if I have multiple students in SFUSD?

We have worked to create consistent schedules across SFUSD schools Tk-12. The majority of our schools will begin at 9 am each day. Sample schedules are in the Family Distance Learning Guide. School sites are sharing their specific schedule with families this week.

Our Instructional Minutes have been informed by SB98. California state law requires all students to have a minimum amount of instructional minutes per day. These minutes may include a combination of live instruction, and other in person interactions, independent work, homework assignments, and/or assessments.

  • Grades TK - K:  3 hours (180 minutes)
  • Grades 1 - 3: 3 hours 50 minutes (230 minutes)
  • Grades 4 - 5: 4 hours (240 minutes)
  • Grades 6 - 8:   4 hours (240 minutes)
  • Grades 9 - 12:  4 hours (240 minutes)

What can I expect on the first day?

As with any school year, the start of the year is focused on connection, building community & relationships, and getting oriented to school schedules, expectations and norms. This year will not be any different - except that it will all be done remotely.

Students and families should expect to be contacted by their teacher(s) and school staff, get an overview of what ‘school’ will look like during distance learning and otherwise kick off the start of a new school year. We expect, though, that every SFUSD student and family experience a focus on Connection and Community and Clarity (of expectations) across all of our schools.  We honor school traditions and respect the rich diversity of each school’s culture and climate. We anticipate that how schools lift these themes in their opening might look slightly different. 

Technology and other instructional materials: Within the first 30 days (starting on day 1) all schools will assess and check in around access (confirming that students have the materials needed to engage in distance learning). Sites will host distribution days to distribute devices and other instructional materials (including books, packets etc). School sites will communicate information around these days with families, directly. We are working to create a master calendar of distribution information and school schedules to post on our website. 

Health, Wellness & Community: Within the first 30 days of school, each site will engage in wellness checks and host community engagement sessions. Many sites have already hosted orientations for incoming students as well as other Back to School events.This will continue over the weeks to come.


How will attendance be taken?

Teachers take and submit official attendance daily. Attendance data is viewable in ParentVUE

Students are expected to actively participate in instruction, daily, as informed by their teachers. Participation will take many forms and may include:

  • Attending a Zoom class, with or without camera on.

  • Joining a Google hangout, with or without speaking.

  • Participating in a group chat(s).

  • Direct email, call, or text with their teacher.

  • Evidence of completion and submission of assignments.

    • Assignments may be submitted via district-designated platforms, or via emails, photos, phone conferences, or other forms of documentation (as appropriate).

How does grading work?

Emergency grading guidance from Spring 2020 has sunsetted and SFUSD is returning to existing policies on grading outlined in Board Policy 5121 on Grading, which includes the general guidance:

A teacher shall base a student's grades solely on the quality of the student's academic work and their mastery of course content based on approved district standards. Students shall have the opportunity to demonstrate this mastery through a variety of methods, including, but not limited to, tests, projects, portfolios, and/or class discussion as appropriate. Other elements that are not a direct measure of knowledge and understanding of course content, such as attendance, effort, student conduct, and work habits, shall not be factored into the academic grade but may be reported separately.

We encourage all educators to give feedback to students on their work to support their academic and social-emotional development and to engage in reflection and collegial conversation about how distance learning may create multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate learning.