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Superintendent's Corner

  • Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

    Posted by Sandra Lyon, Ed.D. on 4/8/2020 11:00:00 AM

    Sandra Lyon

    I hope as you are reading this blog that you and yours are all healthy and coping as best you can through this unprecedented and historical time. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a little more than a month since our radars were alerted to the initial spread of the Coronavirus and the potential implications for public health and only a few weeks since we were forced to physically close our schools for what we hoped would be a short time.. Since then our situation has evolved weekly, if not daily, ultimately resulting in the mandate to stay at home except for essential functions such as grocery shopping, banking and picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy; social distancing of at least six feet apart; and covering our faces when out in public. We now know that our schools will be physically closed through the end of our school year.

    All of us here at PSUSD -- including our Board of Education, administrators, educators and all of our support staff -- are heartbroken over the devastating loss for our students: the events that can’t be held, the performances that have been canceled, and just the inability to have our school families physically together for the rest of the school year. 

    At the same time, I cannot begin to express how heartwarming it is for our Board and Cabinet to be a part of the incredible team we have here in this District and witness the dedication and determination of our staff members to make the best of an unfathomable situation and to continue to do what’s best for our students. To that end, our incredible Nutrition Services Department, in collaboration with our First Student bus drivers and site administrators and support staff, are working to ensure that any of our PSUSD students, as well as any children 18 years old and younger, have access to five breakfasts and five lunches each week. The next distribution will be on April 15 with the current plan being distribution each Wednesday at each bus stop and at 12 school sites. 

    Our Educational Services Department immediately jumped onboard after our schools physically closed on March 13 to establish supplemental learning (as well as social and emotional) resources and a full website devoted to these resources -- which are added to daily. The website is https://sites.google.com/psusd.us/supplemental-learning/, and students and their families can even find sample daily schedules which includes times for physical and enrichment activities in addition to core education. Our Educational Technology Information Services team immediately stepped up to work with our site principals to make sure we had enough Chromebooks or iPads for students in grades three through 12 who didn’t already have district-issued devices in preparation for distance learning, which officially begins on May 4. Following spring break, our Department will be providing tech repair “depots” so students or parents can bring devices over for repair or exchange during published schedules. Seems odd to say that we are in the first week of our two-week spring break considering our school sites have been closed for a few weeks now and most of our staff members have been busier than ever -- albeit most not from their designated work space -- putting plans in place. Last week, the bulk of our teachers were trained in Zoom and/or Google Classroom technologies. The week of April 20, they will receive further training prior to delivering daily lessons and interacting with their students via phone, email and or virtual classrooms. 

    No doubt you still have many questions. We are working through the answers and will publish Frequently Asked Questions and answers on our website within the next week or so and will continue to update as information changes. In the meantime, I can share with you that our intent is to provide equitable educational opportunities for all of our students. Grading during this time will not be penalizing at all to our students. Rather, third trimester grades for elementary students will not be issued. For secondary students, final grades will be built on the grades issued at the end of Trimester 2 for middle grades and third quarter for high school. Work completed during school closure during distance learning can be used to improve grades, and opportunities will be provided to do so in a variety of options. Final grades will not be lowered during the last grading period.

    We also know that our seniors and their families have questions regarding senior activities such as prom, senior trips and graduation. Unfortunately none of these events can be held before the end of the school year. Our high schools will contact seniors soon to arrange for payment refunds for these activities, and we will be determining alternate ways to celebrate our seniors and be in touch on that as soon as we make those determinations. 

    Please watch for our FAQs right here on the homepage of our website next week. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and each other. We are grateful for your continued support and know that together we will get through this stronger than ever. Remember, stay in place, maintain your space (at least six feet) and cover your face! And wash your hands!!

    See you next month!

    Sandra Lyon, Ed.D.

    Superintendent of Schools

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