Dear Santa Barbara Unified Students, Employees, Families, and Community Partners,
I’m writing in hopes that you and your loved ones are safe and in good health. By now you are aware that we will need to start the 2020-2021 school year in a distance learning model. The infection rates in Santa Barbara County have continued to climb and Governor Newsom has directed counties like ours to keep campuses closed until we can meet safety guidelines.
I have received letters expressing either relief or disappointment about this decision. I can understand both perspectives and appreciate that there are many circumstances that we each are living that lead to these feelings. As your superintendent, I would like nothing more than to assure you that all will be well, however in many ways our lives are being guided by how the virus spreads and mutates and there is not enough scientific information on the effects on children both short and long term.
Our decisions will continue to be guided by science and facts, concerns for health and safety, and the objective of providing a quality education for all students.
There are a variety of factors that impact the success of distance learning education and most importantly there are students who thrive and some who struggle. We need to attend to both and will continue to do so.
We make a commitment to continue to work on the following:
- Deliver resources and training for teachers to successfully implement a rigorous distance learning education to all students especially those in greatest need
- Increase teacher time with students and allow time for building classroom community and social emotional learning
- Ensure 100% of students have a working device and access to quality, uninterrupted internet service
- Engage all staff – not just teachers – in supporting classroom teaching and learning
- Continuously analyze and improve on students’ literacy, language and math skills and achievement
- Provide continued mental health services for students who need additional support
- Limit the number of platforms to communicate with parents on their students’ progress
- Provide webinars for parents by each school principal to inform and guide school reopening and distance learning plans
- Continue to remain flexible as we adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
- Continue to explore and plan for alternatives such as outdoor learning spaces and hybrid models
To achieve our commitments, we will continue to work with community organizations who are reaching out and offering their support and we will trust that our service providers continue to support our families and students’ needs.
It will take all of us working together and following safety protocols like social distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing to reach the day when we can all go back to classrooms. Our principals, teachers and staff are looking forward to this day and will continue to work towards plans for a safe school reopening.
I ask that you continue to let us know how we can help you and your family and most of all, stay safe.