Closed Schools, Yet Open Minds - A Message from the Superintendent as Featured in the Thousand Oaks Acorn
When I became Superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District almost three years ago, I shared my vision for doing things “the Conejo Way,” with teamwork, relationship building, trust, and accountability to help ensure ideal academic outcomes for the students we serve. We are now at an unprecedented time in our school district’s history, and over the last two weeks, we as a district, and community, have tested our trust, and our ability to work together, while physically being apart, like never before. As we formally embark in distance learning for our 18,365 students I am beyond proud of the teamwork I have witnessed, and been a part of, and of the growth mindset we, as a community, have embraced in the best interest, and for the safety of our community’s youngest members.
It has not been an easy path to navigate, and we are on the precipice of a health crisis that may be unlike any our community has faced before. My thoughts, and prayers continue to be with all of you as we face the unknown, and bravely do our best to support one another.
Our goal, as a school district, even in this time of districtwide school closure, remains the same: to continue to offer students a safe place to learn, a place where they can challenge themselves academically, and a place where they can be part of a community that truly makes them feel supported and loved. We recognize that our students have different needs, talents, and abilities. As we navigate this new model of distance learning education, what remains most important to us is that the student is at the center of our discussions and planning.
Connection will be key. Our school site administrators, teachers, and staff have truly blown me away with their innovation, and fearlessness in embracing new digital platforms to meet the learning needs of our students. They continue to problem-solve, create, design, read, research, and most importantly, connect. We believe this human connection is foundational not only for learning, but for moving through the current challenges we face. As we move forward CVUSD’s approach to distance learning will include:
School site administrators finding unique ways to forge community via “Spirit Day While Your Away,” schedules, and periodic video morning announcements posted to social media, websites, and more
- Teachers delivering standards-based instruction through one of many online platforms, including Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, Zoom, Seesaw, Weebly, or other web-based communication mediums.
- Teachers providing instruction through various modes available to them, including: asking students to view a video, having collaborative discussion through Zoom, working on project-based assignments, sharing a blog, or one of many other innovative methods.
- Teachers continuing to work to create their digital classes, lessons, and assignments. Part of that work will be inviting students to join their digital class. For many of you, this communication has already started.
- Teachers providing distance learning assignments and student work products that will be entirely digital and not require students to print any handout or assignment.
- Counselors will provide check-ins, as we recognize the importance of our students’ mental health
It is important to note that distance learning is not a minute-for-minute replacement of the school day. Rather, it is an altered and abbreviated schedule that reflects the realities of school closures, social-distancing, shelter in place, stay at home and other orders intended for everyone’s safety and well-being.
We recognize distance learning delivery methods pose tremendous challenges for some of our students, and we look forward to working with families to minimize the impact of these challenges while schools are closed.
Specifically, for our students who qualify for an Individual Education Plan (IEP)
, in accordance with federal law, IDEA, we must continue to offer a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all eligible students should we avail general education distance learning opportunities during the closures. At this time, district staff are working through the complex layers of how to provide an individualized distance learning opportunity for the approximately 2000 students eligible for an IEP, amongst other students who received specialized services at their CVUSD school site.
As an essential service to the community, our dedicated Child Nutrition team has been, and will continue to provide free meals to children ages 2 to 18. These meals are distributed at eight different sites throughout the Conejo Valley, and starting this week meals include not only a nutritious sack lunch, but also a breakfast for children to enjoy the next morning. Complete information regarding meal pick-up locations, and times of distribution may be found at: www.conejousd.org/FreeMealInformaiton.
Additionally, our Technology Services department has been working around the clock to prepare, and provide technology devices to students who need access to technology to participate in distance learning. More than 1,000 requests for technology devices from families have been received as part of the District’s free chromebook loaner program. We are committed to assisting families with the tools they need for their student to seamlessly participate in distance learning.
Our partnership with families, and the community is more important than ever and we are committed to responding to feedback as we continue to develop and refine our plan. Creating schedules and protocols that will support our parents and families in their work with their students at home is an important part of our distance learning plan.
We recognize that the challenges we face are imminent, but our dedicated team of teachers, educators, counselors and administrators are here to provide help and guidance. CVUSD is committed to developing and implementing an instructional program and student support program through distance learning that supports the needs of all of our students - #TheConejoWay.