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DISTANCE LEARNING NEWSLETTER

Read this special edition of our newsletter regarding Distance Learning. 

 

DISTANCE LEARNING NEWSLETTER

SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATE

March 18, 2020

 

Dear Simi Valley Schools Community:

 

I appreciate your ongoing patience and support as we continue to work through a crisis never-before-seen by any of us. We are now into our third day of the closure of our schools because of the coronavirus and we know that our families are struggling with many concerns and needs during this time. I hope that the contents of this long message will help to answer some of the questions you may have and to outline the weeks to come for all of us. There is a lot of information contained here and I urge you to carefully read through to the end of this message.

NEW SCHOOL REOPEN TARGET DATE
The Simi Valley Unified School District has carefully coordinated our plans with all of the Ventura County school districts and the Ventura County Office of Education and we are in line with our neighboring districts. We have decided that as of now, our schools will remain closed at least through Friday, May 1. Our new target date to reopen is Monday, May 4. As you know, things are changing hourly and there is the potential that the closures could extend beyond May 1. Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom advised families to prepare for the possibility that schools may be closed through the summer break. While that could happen, we remain hopeful that the current conditions will improve enough to allow us to reopen before the end of this school year.

DISTANCE LEARNING FOR OUR STUDENTS
For several weeks, we have worked on plans for distance learning for our students. This has never been an issue of our willingness or ability to conduct distance learning, but there are many regulatory concerns that we need state and federal guidance on. As of today, we still have not received clear guidance on many of these hurdles, but we are moving forward with this plan with our best intentions to facilitate student achievement. We are hopeful that the needed direction from the California Department of Education (CDE) and the federal government will be provided soon.

I will provide the overall plan for distance learning here, but please know that your schools and teachers will create more detailed plans and arrangements for how and what this will look like in the weeks to come. Any questions about distance learning should be addressed to your school sites after Spring Break. Here are the basics:

  • After Spring Break, teachers will reach out to their students’ families to get information on technology access.
  • All educational materials will be offered online and in printed packets to accommodate any limitations a family may have to technology at home.
  • Printed packets will be provided once each week at the school sites for pick-up only. They will also be made available online, and each teacher will provide access through the platform they are most comfortable using.
  • Initially, the weekly work will be considered “enrichment activities” but will transition into curriculum-based work in order to ease our students back into learning. (More specific information about if the work is graded, if it needs to be returned and other related details will be developed by the school sites in the coming weeks.)
  • Students will be allowed to come to school to pick up personal belongings and learning materials BUT EACH SCHOOL WILL CREATE ITS OWN PLAN FOR HOW AND WHEN THIS WILL HAPPEN. When students do come to the schools, they will not be allowed to gather and socialize. They will be asked to pick up their things and leave.
  • Once we begin the distance learning process (after Spring Break) all students are expected to participate. The California compulsory education laws (attendance) are still in effect. Each teacher will determine what constitutes attendance for each of their courses/classes individually.
  • All of these distance learning plans will begin the week AFTER Spring Break. Spring Break is next week (March 23 to 27). The first communications from teachers to families will be by Friday, April 3. (This gives our teachers time to create their materials and delivery methods.)


BREAKFAST AND LUNCH FOR STUDENTS
Due to a surge in demand, we’ve expanded our current nutrition services for our families.

As of next week, we will offer breakfast as well as lunch for our community’s children, and we continue this service during Spring Break and after. Breakfast/lunch will be provided from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Berylwood Elementary School (2300 Heywood Street) and Santa Susanna High School (3570 E. Cochran Street). Any child age 18 and under may participate and receive a meal free of charge, regardless of enrollment in the Simi Valley Unified School District. In the interest of maintaining the current requirements for social distancing, we are continuing to use the drive-through system for meal distribution to prevent large groups from forming. (But no children will be turned away.) In order to receive a breakfast/lunch, the child/children must be present at the time of pick-up. Unfortunately, having children present to pick up the free meals is federal law, and as of today, these requirements remain in place. BREAKFAST WILL BE GIVEN AT THE SAME TIME AS LUNCH, SO THIS WILL BE BREAKFAST FOR THE NEXT MORNING. Please know that children will not be allowed to eat at the schools after picking up their lunches.

GRADUATION AND PROMOTION CEREMONIES
Like all of you, we want nothing more than to honor our students for their achievements. The thought of graduation ceremonies being cancelled is heartbreaking for all of us and we will do everything we can to ensure that they continue. In the event that in-person ceremonies are not possible due to public health concerns, we will explore alternative ways to recognize our amazing students for their accomplishments.

TESTING
The College Board, which administers the SAT, has canceled the March 28 makeup and the May 2 SAT test dates. The next SAT date is June 6, with a registration deadline of May 27. The College Board is also working on remote learning for Advanced Placement (AP) students and a testing plan to come. The situation is changing frequently, so please see their latest updates at https://pages.collegeboard.org/collegeboard-covid-19-updates.

 

The April 4 ACT test date has been rescheduled to June 13. This link will provide the latest information: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html.


Information about the impacts of coronavirus on International Baccalaureate (IB) testing is available at https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/covid-19-coronavirus-updates.

 

The state CAASPP testing in math and English/Language Arts has been canceled for the current school year and will not take place.

I want to assure all of our families that we are providing information to you as soon as possible after we receive and verify it. There is no delay in informing you beyond creating the message. We need to be as transparent as possible with everyone in order for this situation to resolve as smoothly as possible.

 

Since the reason for closing our schools is to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, we urge families to continue practicing social distancing during this time. The effort to slow the spread of the virus will be impeded if students gather in malls, movie theaters and other public places while schools are closed. Students, please stay home.

 

Finally, I wish to make a personal appeal to our families. I pride myself on being as accessible as possible for our 16,500 students’ families and their needs. Between the constant dissemination of ever-changing information and the planning involved to keep the learning process happening over the coming weeks, I cannot possibly respond to all of the emails, texts and messages I’m receiving from our community. The good news is that in most cases, you children’s principals are available and willing to address your concerns. Email is the best way to communicate with them, though most are at their campuses each day (except for next week with Spring Break). If you don’t know how to reach out to them, please go to https://www.simivalleyusd.org/pf4/cms2/view_page?d=x&group_id=1537515200656&vdid=v2im28b1zlkqm402 and you will find a complete list of every school, its contact information and the principal with a link to their email address.

 

Thank you again for your support, patience and flexibility during this time. We will get through this successfully because we are a community of people who care about each other and about our children.

 

Dr. Jason Peplinski
Superintendent
Simi Valley Unified School District

PERFORMING ARTS AUDITION

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