Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 20, 2020

Going the distance (learning)

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

I don’t really focus that much on the School Board too much but it looks like the District will need to reconsider the flexible in-person instruction for the fall given the directions given by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday.  The funny thing is that while the special meeting was going on Friday morning through 12:00 the Governor was laying out criteria for schools reopening in the fall.  From SFGate:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Friday press briefing that schools in counties on the  watch list for more than 14 days open with distance learning. Counties would need to meet strict criteria for schools to offer in-class instruction.

Alameda County is on the watch list.

I think the school district is doing the best they can in a truly untenable situation but, at this point, there needs to be recognition that families with the funds will create child care pods and hire private teachers.  The district needs to find a way to ensure that the opportunity gap doesn’t further widen for students who received much needed resources at a physical school.  There was already discussion at that meeting that some students don’t have access to internet and even the hot spots provided by the District is not enough either because those are limited by cell coverage.

It sounds like AUSD might need to fully pivot to a distance learning model starting in the fall.  But if that’s the case, for students that may be constrained by the district limitations on accelerated studies, it might be more attractive to move to the fully remote option.  It would be good for AUSD to open up the ability to sign up for the fully remote option again given the new direction from the state government.  They might find that the interest for the fully remote option is now greater than before the state announcement and given the trajectory we’ve been headed in with regard to COVID-19 in general.

I mean, personally, I’ve given up on 2020 being a salvageable year.  We’re just chugging along hoping for vaccines and therapeutics to bring some sense of normality back to the United States.

14 Comments »

  1. I have no evidence for this, strictly my perception, but I believe the number of private teacher pods will be very small. I’d be shocked if it’s higher than single digits. Worries about this are overstated and it’s not a sufficient reason to alter policy.

    Internet access is a concern, though the district has taken some real steps to improve that. WiFi hot spots on campus are a good start, as are chrome books being freely distributed to those who ask.

    But goddamn, this is an awful year…

    Comment by dave — July 20, 2020 @ 8:14 am

  2. Even with full internet access, all the necessary equipment, and perfectly well designed online coursework and strategy, the factors that have always been mostly out of the control of the district, i.e. student motivation, the home environment, and parent involvement, will be more important than ever and will unfortunately likely lead to greater disparities than ever. For all sorts of reasons, those factors will be severely lacking with some percentage of students. What is the District’s plan to deal with that – outside of the IEP context – in what (at least for the immediate future) will be a distance learning scenario?

    Comment by MP — July 20, 2020 @ 8:38 am

    • I’ll add that I am glad Measure A passed in March as AUSD personnel may be asked to do more than ever. AUSD has some extremely dedicated people. Figuring out how to keep some kids from getting left behind during this period could be the most important work they have ever done.

      Comment by MP — July 20, 2020 @ 8:52 am

  3. Experts, students and parents have stated that online instruction has been a big failure at every level, with college students demanding refunds and parents of school age children desperately seeking effective alternatives, including hiring teachers to teach outside of school. Students of color, those in lower socio-economic groups, English language learners, and specially abled students suffer the most negative effects from online instruction. As an example, 15,000 students in LA never responded when the school district went to online learning and 40,000 checked in infrequently. That is 1/3 of total enrollment. Few of those students will ever “catch up.”

    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-30/coronavirus-los-angeles-schools-15000-high-school-students-absent

    With a community focused on systemic racism it would seem that an example is being missed right in front of our faces. There is a huge digital divide. So why are we doing it? The “science” says that kids have minimal risk. Why not let the younger teachers go back with appropriate safeguards, shift older teachers to online instruction, and allow doubtful parents to find better teachers and better online alternatives with classes outside the district? And, if you don’t think your child’s teacher is effective, find a better one online in Colorado, Pleasanton, or NYC. Time to reimagine education.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — July 20, 2020 @ 8:52 am

    • thank you Betsy De Vos.

      Comment by trumpisaracist — July 20, 2020 @ 9:44 am

    • Dude, you don’t get the science do you? Sure- kids are less at risk. But then if they get the virus they then spread it back home and potentially among older relatives and older people in the community. Get it?

      Comment by john doe — July 20, 2020 @ 11:24 am

      • Narrator (in Ron Howard’s voice): “Nowyouknow doesn’t get it.”

        Comment by JRB — July 20, 2020 @ 11:44 am

        • Here you go…

          This week, the director of the Centers for Disease Control said that “having the schools actually closed is a greater health threat to the children than having them open.” Last month, a New York Times survey of more than 500 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists found that more than 70 percent of them would send their children to school, day care, or camp immediately or later in the summer.

          The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. Infectious diseases specialists Dr. William V. Raszka and Dr. Benjamin Lee just co-authored a review of all the most recent studies and data worldwide for the AAP’s official journal, Pediatrics, and it’s worth sharing their conclusion in full:

          Almost 6 months into the pandemic, accumulating evidence and collective experience argue that children, particularly school-aged children, are far less important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than adults. Therefore, serious consideration should be paid toward strategies that allow schools to remain open, even during periods of COVID-19 spread. In doing so, we could minimize the potentially profound adverse social, developmental, and health costs that our children will continue to suffer until an effective treatment or vaccine can be developed and distributed or, failing that, until we reach herd immunity.

          Comment by Nowyouknow — July 20, 2020 @ 11:59 am

    • Again- we can agree that children are less likely to get ill with the virus. That’s not the point. The point is that children can become carriers and vectors for the disease which in turn means they can bring it home after school.

      Lastly- children can and have become very ill with the virus, some of whom have also died.

      https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405

      So there you go.

      Comment by john doe — July 20, 2020 @ 1:15 pm

      • Our foster son has been doing on line college work and I have access to his portal, as I tutor him. I can assure you that he is getting challenging, college level instruction in a variety of subjects. I have a Masters Degree, and studied in the state college/university system here in California, during the 60’s. The instruction is by video lecture, power point presentation, Ted Talk type video lectures, assigned reading, many quizzes, tests, and essays, plus research papers. Every professor has responded to his requests for help or clarification promptly. They are available via email and have phone appointments, too.
        I see no reason that our district can’t organize itself to pool resources for the videos and power points and do remote instruction at least until the threat of infection passes.
        Yes, it is far better for the kids to interact, but chilren are resilent. A few months of remote learning will not harm them for life and may allowbwe at risk seniors to live longer.

        Comment by Kate Quick — July 20, 2020 @ 3:18 pm

  4. Thank you, Lauren, for focusing on the latest news about California schools and COVID-19.

    We did want to clarify for your readers that at the beginning of Friday’s Monday meeting, Superintendent Scuderi recommended to the Board that AUSD open in the distance phase of the Flexible Learning Program. This was a very difficult decision, given the impacts distance learning can have both working families and our most vulnerable students. But we also know that public health officials are saying schools should not open until community transmission is well controlled, and currently it is not.

    This decision will be formalized at another special Board of Education meeting this Wednesday.

    As the Flexible Learning Program was designed to convert from in-person instruction to distance learning if there was a spike in COVID-19 cases, we were prepared for this. Superintendent Scuderi also emphasized repeatedly, however, that the district is committed to getting students back on campus as soon as possible. We will follow the state and county public health guidelines in developing criteria for that.

    We know that AUSD families will have a lot of questions about the logistics of distance learning in the fall. We are working to develop answers to those questions as quickly as possible – including how we might support childcare, our most vulnerable students, and the social connections that children need as they are growing.

    Community members who would like to read the letter that the superintendent sent to all families Friday evening can find it in the link below. A similar letter was sent to all staff Friday afternoon.

    https://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/pf4/cms2/news_themed_display?id=1594980156563

    We also have a lot of background on our Planning for 2020-21 web page (www.alamedaunified.org/redesignplan).

    Comment by Susan Davis (AUSD community affairs) — July 20, 2020 @ 9:21 am

  5. We have had so long to plan and prepare for this and all we got was a threat to take funding away from them. A little money and some creative thinking could result in some really workable solutions, but here we are. F*&$&#^!!

    Comment by bjsvec — July 20, 2020 @ 10:33 am

    • If I were in charge, I would have paid teachers to work over the summer and figure this thing out as best as possible. They know what went right and wrong in the spring. The countries with successful education systems listen to their teachers and empower them.

      Comment by Djs — July 23, 2020 @ 1:09 pm


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