Local school districts transition to ‘distance learning’

The San Dieguito Union School District board live-streamed its board meeting on March 19.

San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) is venturing into new territory with “distance learning” for students and virtual meetings for staff.

The district held a unique board meeting on March 19: While staff and San Dieguito President Beth Hergesheimer were in the board room at the Encinitas office building, board members Joyce Dalessandro, Kristin Gibson, Melisse Mossy and Mo Muir all phoned in to participate electronically.

The meeting was live-streamed and there were a handful of people in the audience, with their seats spaced out. According to Hergesheimer, the room was set up following the San Diego County order for social distancing and, if needed, other areas were available for the public to be seated. One member of the public submitted public comments electronically to be read into the record.

At the meeting, SDUHSD Superintendent Robert Haley and all associate superintendents gave updates about how things are progressing during this unprecedented time. As of now, all schools remain closed through April 13, based on the order issued by San Diego County on March 18.

Haley said the district is continuing to communicate with students and families as they are set to roll out a new distance learning platform on March 24. Teachers have been exploring using Google classrooms and posting student resources to their staff webpages, understanding that the transition to online learning might be challenging for some students. The San Diego County Office of Education continues to work with all local school districts on how to keep student learning going— Haley said all area superintendents will look to the county for guidance regarding graduation for seniors.

“At this point we are not planning for summer learning, although in this fluid environment that may change,” Haley said. “Our hope is that we’re able to provide enough of an online learning environment that (summer learning) would not be necessary.”

During “trying times,” San Dieguito staff continued to work hard on the operations side. Custodians have been working to deep clean and disinfect campuses and the nutrition services department is continuing to ensure that all students have access to meals. Nutrition services has been providing an opportunity for families to pick up grab and go meals between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday at Earl Warren Middle School and San Dieguito Academy campuses. SDUHSD Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas said the first day of service on March 16 was a little slow, possibly due to the rain, but the meals served doubled the following day. They are serving about 50 meals to students between both sites.

As of last week, construction continued on Requeza Educational Center, home to Sunset High School and COAST Academy, as well as on various modernization projects across campus.

Haley said in this time of certainty, the district and school site staff continue to reach out to engage with students and families.

“We miss you and look forward to reconnecting in a different way,” said Canyon Crest Academy Principal Brett Killeen in a video message to his students posted to Twitter. “I’m confident when we get to the other side of this, we’re going to be even better.”