By Wendy Sinnette, Special to The Outlook
I hope everyone is managing during these unprecedented times as we engage with Gov. Newsom’s “Safer at Home” order and work together to flatten the curve of infection with the COVID-19 virus. I am grateful to The Outlook and Charlie Plowman for giving me the opportunity to update the larger community regarding the status of our schools in the La Cañada Unifed School District.
I have been regularly emailing district families, students in grades 7-12 and staff, but given the support that the community of La Cañada Flintridge continually demonstrates for its schools, it is important to keep everyone informed regarding district updates. Our schools closed on Friday, March 13, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were provided two days to prepare for distance learning, which officially commenced on Tuesday, March 17. Our teachers and students have access to Google Classroom, and student textbooks and learning apps are stored in Classlink, an online centralized platform. Other resources available for distance learning opportunities are Screencastify, Google Hangouts, Zoom, YouTube and EdPuzzle. Teachers are designing lessons according to their instructional style and working hard to ensure a continuation of learning throughout the school closure period.
Initially, our school closure period extended to March 27. However, once the “Safer at Home” order was issued through April 19, the LCUSD Governing Board voted to sync our closure period to match the order. Last Friday, March 20, the Los Angeles County Office of Education recommended to its 80 schools that the closure remain in effect until May 5. For its meeting on March 31, the Governing Board has directed staff to prepare an agenda item which will review all of LCUSD’s actions in response to COVID-19 and the new reality of distance learning within our district. At that time, the Governing Board will assess the need to possibly lengthen our school closure time frame.
My heartfelt thanks go to our Governing Board for its leadership in this crisis. They have made a point to make incremental decisions. Immediately, when it is safe to do so, LCUSD schools will be ready to reopen and welcome our students and staff back to our campuses. I have assured our seniors, our class of 2020, that no current plans exist for not returning to school in the fourth quarter to engage in all of the culminating activities that celebrate them. We will always prioritize the health of our community, but we will plan in segments — and right now that planning takes us through April 19.
Finally, I am so proud of our LCUSD and La Cañada Flintridge community. These are exceptionally challenging times. In essence, we have all become first responders in the coronavirus emergency. I know that parents have been instrumental in providing instructional support to their children, teachers have worked tirelessly to transition to distance learning and maintain commensurate rigorous standards, students have kept focused on studies, and the community has engaged in the health practices required to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. As we move forward, please stay connected to friends and family via the telephone and internet, find ways to relieve stress and exercise, build routines toward normalcy, and remember that as a community, we will make a difference with social distancing — but remain united and support each other through these tumultuous times.
Wendy Sinnette is La Cañada Unified School District’s superintendent.