Dear Santa Barbara Unified Students, Employees, Families, and Community Partners,
Welcome to the month of August! We are pleased to announce our planning for implementing distance learning is completed and many school-based employees are immersed in back to school preparation. Staff have expressed excitement and readiness to welcome students back to school. Teachers will begin professional learning in the coming days and will be investing in opportunities to improve in ways to deliver great teaching via distance learning. We recognize that we are doing this while making the best of a difficult situation and acknowledging our strong wish to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.
This week we finalized our contract negotiations with the Santa Barbara Teachers Association. This was an important step and I am pleased with how quickly we were able to reach an agreement. The Governor announced his order for distance learning on July 17, and less than two weeks later, we wrapped up negotiations with the teacher’s union. That is rare, especially under these extraordinary circumstances. Teachers agreeing to do required professional learning prior to their return date reaffirms to our community how incredibly dedicated they are.
In the coming days, the Educational Technology Services team will be sending information on how to get devices for new students, hotspots, and free internet access and will provide personalized service to ensure parents and students have all the necessary tools for school.
Beginning on Monday, August 10th, we will be expanding technology help desk hours of service 7 am – 7 pm from Monday through Friday at (805) 696-2700.
Lastly, our dedicated school principals will be hosting webinars for families this coming week to provide school specific information on what to expect during distance learning.
We will continue to monitor public health data and receive guidance from state leaders on the status of our county, as well as neighboring counties in which our employees live, so that we have accurate information to gauge the feasibility of a return to school for students.
Our focus will continue to be on student achievement, social emotional support and closing the opportunity gaps for students who are furthest from educational justice.
I urge all of us to ask our family members, neighbors, friends and loved ones to wear a mask, practice social distancing and follow health & safety guidelines. .
We all share in the excitement of reconnecting with our students, families and staff following the summer break, and look forward to embarking on this new journey together. I’d like to also thank those people on my team who have worked throughout the summer to keep Santa Barbara Unified a productive, operational, and most of all, safe community.