District Updates and School Closure Information
April 3, 2020
Dear Parents, Staff, and Community:
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well. Please know it was with a heavy heart that I delivered the news to you earlier this week that our facilities will not reopen and our students will not return to their classrooms before the end of this school year due to the COVID-19 crisis. This was a grave decision that was not taken lightly, and I empathize with the hardship and disappointment it has caused. But, I do hope you understand that the safety of our students, staff, and families must always come first. Our public health authorities and government officials have made it clear, the peak of this pandemic is yet to come, and adhering to physical distancing measures is crucial to saving lives. Do be assured that while our buildings may be closed, the 2019-2020 year is not finished. Our district will continue as we have to provide Grab-n-Go meals, deliver essential services, and school for our students remains in session through remote learning until the last day of this academic year on May 28, 2020.
Today marks the end of Phase 1 of our Distance Learning Plan. I want to thank our students, educators, and caretakers for the remarkable way you have taken on the challenges of this new approach to teaching and learning. I believe this experience has given us all a chance to appreciate each other more than ever before, and realize how vital it is for us to work together and support one another. While we may need to remain physically apart, continuing to create virtual ways to help our students and each other feel connected academically and emotionally is essential. Resources to address the social-emotional well-being of our students and families can be found here.
We move into Phase 2 of distance learning from April 6 through April 17, 2020. I am pleased that our leadership team and union partners have collaborated on the development of this plan. Our students will engage in high-quality learning opportunities that blend new concepts and enrichment to move learning forward using digital delivery as well as packet options. Please look for communications from your child’s Principal and teachers for details about the specifics of your child’s Phase 2 plan as well as directions for the next Packet Pick-Up Day that is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Please only come if absolutely necessary and follow all “social distancing” directives.
Because there are many questions about next steps, our Board of Education will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, April 7, at 10:00 a.m. to provide an opportunity to share with our community the specifics of Phase 2 and an update on all aspects of our district’s essential services delivery during this time. In compliance with Governor Newsom’s “Safer-at-Home” order, all meetings of our Board will be conducted virtually until further notice. However, public participation continues to be welcomed and encouraged. Information on how to listen and/or participate will be on our website once the agenda is posted.
I also am aware that many of our students, especially our seniors, have many questions too regarding how grades will be assigned, graduation requirements, transcripts, and college admissions procedures. Please know that our district leadership team is working in collaboration with the California Department of Education and Los Angeles County Office of Education to address each of these concerns based on the guidance they issued yesterday, and we will provide answers in the days to come.
At this time, I can share that all state testing has been suspended for this year including SBAC and ELPAC assessments. The College Board announced AP exams will still be administered using a modified online version for students to access at home, and our AP teachers will be preparing our students for this new format. Early College classes will continue according to the Citrus College Distance Learning Plan, and our high schools are working closely with seniors to make sure they graduate appropriately prepared for their post-secondary plans. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 instruction, I am relieved that our higher education partners announced more flexible admissions criteria that will be applicable for our current juniors and seniors. Find the joint statement issued by the CSU/UC, California Community Colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities here. Also, as I mentioned before, I have made it a priority to ensure, whether it be using a different format and/or at a later date, we will find a way to host our graduation ceremonies and celebrate our students’ momentous achievements.
As we move into Phase 2, please continue to regularly check our dedicated Distance Learning and COVID-19 Resources website hub and @duarteused on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube carefully for updates and information about our district’s operations and how best to contact our staff. We know that nothing is more important than the health and safety of our families and loved ones. My heart goes out to those of you who may know someone who is ill or has lost someone to COVID-19. Please continue to take all possible precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others and protecting yourself. I can’t express enough the deep gratitude I have for each of you and our Duarte community for the way in which we have risen to meet this moment together.
Be well, everyone.Superintendent of SchoolsDuarte Unified School District