ESCONDIDO — Students from Escondido Union School District and Escondido Union High School District officially began distance learning on Tuesday, April 14, a few weeks after schools across the county canceled in-person classes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools in both districts have been closed since March 16, a few days before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Since then, the city’s schools have been preparing to teach their students virtually.
“Principals held video meetings with their teachers and staff and reached out to their parents and students,” said Laura Philyaw, assistant superintendent of educational services at EUSD. “At the same time, our school social workers, family liaisons, and counselors also were contacting families, checking on their access to the internet and whether they were in need of any other resources during this public health crisis.”
EUSD is an elementary district serving more than 15,800 children from preschool through 8th grade. They are offering a blended-learning approach of online instruction and distributing packets of instruction to any students who cannot access digital resources.
For students in 3rd through 8th grade, EUSD is also providing iPads that were already in use as part of the district’s one-to-one iPad program, for the duration of the shelter-at-home order.
Similarly, EUHSD, which serves more than 7,500 high school students, has provided laptops and Wi-Fi connection devices and resources to students who need it, according to the EUHSD Superintendent Dr. Anne Staffieri.
“Our school campuses are closed, but our classrooms are open,” Staffieri said. “It is difficult for us to determine how long we will be in a distance learning mode, but we will continue as long as needed and until it is safe to resume student learning on campus.”
In terms of grading, both districts have committed to a “hold harmless” model, meaning that each student can work to raise their grades, but no student will receive a lower grade than they were earning as of March 13.
“We know this cannot replicate learning in a traditional classroom setting,” Philyaw said. “Success during this time means maintaining a connection to our students and families to support them through all of the circumstances surrounding them. That includes learning, social-emotional well-being, safety, and nutrition.
EUHSD shares a similar sentiment, adding that, as a high school district serving thousands of students, they have never done anything like this before.
“It is critical that students continue to engage in their learning and communicate with their teachers and fellow students as they move forward academically,” Staffieri said. “Our goal through distance learning is to provide all of our students an opportunity to continue their education during this pandemic.”