April 1, 2020 8:30 PM
Dear WVUSD Families,
On Wednesday, April 1, 2020, California State Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond directed all school districts to close campuses for the remainder of the school year due to the safety concerns surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Walnut Valley Unified School District (WVUSD) is working closely with the California Department of Education (CDE) and Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to navigate the closure of our school campuses for the remainder of the year.
Let me start by sharing how much sadness I feel for our students, families, and staff throughout our entire School District community. We strive to make “school” the most positive and memorable experience in our students’ lives … and to have that experience shortened has, and will continue to have, an enormous impact on each of them. As a parent and educator, I empathize with the kids who miss “hanging out” with their friends at school, not being able to sit in their favorite teachers’ classrooms, missing the stage or the ballfield … and a multitude of other lost experiences that impact each student in a unique way. During my 26 years in education, I have never experienced such a significant disruption to how we do “school.” I do, however, understand the need and I hope this mandatory closure of all schools in California will provide a healthier and safer environment for everyone.
Perhaps the most impacted group of students, and those that many of us have been thinking about with a heavy heart since I first announced Phase 1 of our school closures, are our high school seniors … the Class of 2020. I am immensely thankful to this amazing group of young people and I am confident of their bright futures and great things ahead for them! I am also truly sorry that, due to this mandated closure of schools and understandably so, their graduation ceremony and related activities will not be held in the traditional manner on May 28 (with a stadium full of family and friends). However, their high school principals and leadership teams are working diligently to create non-traditional experiences that we hope will also be forever memorable and honor them and you (their families) for the many, tremendous accomplishments. Your high schools will provide information soon. In the meantime, thank you for your patience as the planning continues.
Although students will not return to their campuses for the 2019/2020 school year, the District will continue to provide Distance Learning for all grade levels. We are finalizing our Expanded Distance Learning Plan, which will ensure that all teachers will facilitate the education of their assigned students. This means that your child’s teacher and/or teacher(s) will formally begin the process of educating your student in a non-traditional classroom setting. Beginning April 20, each teacher will communicate with students and/or families to present learning in an online format. Just as in a traditional setting, students will be held accountable for participating in online classes, completing assignments, and communicating with his/her teacher. More information will be provided by the District, the school, and the teacher(s). We are also in the process of providing computers to students as needed (based on our previous survey of parents).
As you are aware, next Friday begins our regularly scheduled Spring Break here in WVUSD. Over the next five (5) business days, please continue to have your students receive enrichment lessons, activities, and projects … these can be found on our LEARN website. Teachers and staff continue to prepare digital curriculum, lesson plans, and participate in various professional development opportunities so that our Expanded Distance Learning Program is rigorous, relevant, and appropriate to the level of education expected in Walnut Valley.
I appreciate the commitment of our employees and the support of our families during this unprecedented time. Our PHASE 1 Distance Learning Plan was meant to minimize the learning gaps during the initial school closures and maintain, to the best of our ability, the students’ prior knowledge. Our staff worked diligently over three (3) days to develop the resources intended for 16 instructional days leading up to our Spring Break.
Once the school closures were extended, educators across the District worked collaboratively (and continue to do so) to develop PHASE 2 of our Expanded Distance Learning Program, which will be implemented through the remainder of the school year. I encourage parents (and students) to prepare for a home environment conducive to extended day learning as we prepare for an April 20 start date for Phase 2. Online professional development will be provided over the next couple of weeks for students and families to better prepare for this significant shift in education.
We will continue to share new developments surrounding school and office closures in WVUSD through our regular communication channels, including emails, text messages, and/or phone calls, as well as social media.
In closing, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank you and our entire educational community for your ongoing support of our schools, our staff, and our students. During this challenging time, I am especially appreciative of the District’s long-standing focus on “KIDS FIRST – EVERY STUDENT, EVERY DAY!”
Please be safe and stay healthy.
Robert P. Taylor, Ed.D.
Walnut Valley Unified School District