In a classroom, educators call it a “teachable moment.” California Governor Gavin Newsom has encouraged people to “meet the moment” with his “Safer at Home” statewide directive. It requires residents to self-quarantine, permitting only essential jobs and companies to continue to operate.
San Diego Unified School District joined Los Angeles Unified in closing all schools as of Monday, March 16. Between the two districts, the move designed to slow down the spread of COVID-19, has left 750,000 students and their families scrambling for guidance and resources. This teachable moment has created its own pandemic of concern for the state’s education system.
This week, SDUSD announced plans to save the remainder of the academic year, while continuing efforts to protect staff, students and their families. San Diego Unified will return to instruction in April to guarantee students an opportunity to successfully complete the current academic year, even as physical school buildings and facilities remain closed until public health officials determine it is safe for students to return to classrooms.
“Even as our nation faces a health crisis, we can see the size of the education challenge ahead of us,” said SDUSD Board President John Lee Evans. “Students are missing out on valuable learning opportunities. The current situation is unsustainable and demands a solution. The solution we are announcing allows our students to continue their academic journey without the fear of spreading the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jennifer Sieber and her 17-year-old daughter, Jay, are among the families coping with the SDUSD shutdown. Jennifer works for the County of San Diego in the Human Resources department, which remains open for now. She is splitting her job with a couple of days in the office and the rest of the week at their home in Hillcrest. “My biggest concern is that Jay is a junior and in her most important year for grades to apply to colleges with,” Sieber says. “How will she be prepared for next year? Will they be starting as if a normal junior year occurred or will there be some catch up? I have so much anxiety thinking about how her teacher and classes are going to be the next two months.” The mother and daughter have created a daily schedule with several hours of academic work balanced with chores and recreational time.
Jay Sieber is a student at San Diego High School in International Studies. She also takes a class at San Diego City College, where she was about to have a midterm exam in her Black Studies class when the shutdown happened. She says, “I’m kind of indifferent to the shutdown because as a junior, we don’t have a lot of big school things happening. But I know a lot of my peers are upset about their college trips being canceled.” Her college class has already been changed to online learning, while she’s working on enrichment assignments at home. “I am staying connected to my friends through social media for sure, like Snapchat and Instagram. We miss each other but know that we must follow what the government says.”
Los Angles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner has announced that his district will now remain closed until at least May 1. That’s an additional five weeks to what was initially expected but still significantly less than what Governor Newsom predicted last week when he said he expected California schools would not reopen before summer break in June.
While schools are not in session, SDUSD has partnered with local KPBS-TV to provide on-air resources as well as online learning content. The partnership is called “At-Home Learning: Where Children Matter,” comprised of a broadcast component with programming that is aligned to mandated California standards. All resources are public and can be accessed at www.sandi.net
The district is also providing food services for as long as schools are closed, with meals available to families with children who need assistance. Both Los Angeles and San Diego leaders continue to advocate for more state funding to continue support as the pandemic proceeds.
“From the moment that our two districts announced plans to close to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic, our legislative leaders have been there to support our students,” said Beutner and Marten in a joint statement. “They took bold action to save thousands of jobs by ensuring status quo funding for school systems across the state. Without that action, our economy would be in more trouble than we already face, and thanks to that action, we are able to focus on serving our children.”
Meanwhile, Sieber and her daughter are hanging in there like everyone else. “I know there just aren’t answers to most of my questions right now, so there’s nothing we can do. Jay is great at reminding me to breathe.”
MEAL PICK-UP LOCATIONS FOR CHILDREN
San Diego Unified Food and Nutrition Services will be conducting drive thru/ walk-up distribution of daily prepared meals, free of charge. Children will need to be present to receive meals, and each child 18 years and younger may take one lunch and one breakfast for the next day.
There will be no congregate feeding; all food is to be taken and consumed off site. Social distancing guidelines apply.
Meal distribution times for all locations will be from Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Serving locations (as of Monday, March 16):
- Clark Middle – 4388 Thorn St., San Diego, CA 92105
- Cherokee Point Elementary – 3735 38th St., San Diego, CA 92105
- Sherman Elementary School – 301 22nd St., San Diego, CA 92102
- Zamorano Fine Arts Academy – 2655 Casey St., San Diego, CA 92139
- Kearny High School – 1954 Komet Way, San Diego, CA 92111
- Walker Elementary School – 9225 Hillery Drive, San Diego, CA 92126
- Farb Middle – 4880 La Cuenta Drive, San Diego, CA 92124
- O’ Farrell Charter School – 6130 Skyline Drive, San Diego, CA 92114
- Porter Elementary North – 445 S. 47th St., San Diego, CA 92113
- Chollas Mead Elementary, 4525 Market St., San Diego, CA 92102
- Perkins K-8, 1770 Main St., San Diego, CA 92113
- Ibarra Elementary School, 4877 Orange Ave., San Diego, CA 92115
- Horton Elementary School, 5050 Guymon St., San Diego CA 92102