Home Antioch Antioch Unified to Continue in Distance Learning While Launching Learning Centers

Antioch Unified to Continue in Distance Learning While Launching Learning Centers

by ECT
Antioch Unified School District

On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District voted 5-0 to remain in Distance Learning for the remainder of the school year. However, the Board also voted to open 50 Learning Centers to help students who may benefit in a classroom environment.

According to Superintendent Stephanie Anello, the learning centers were an attempt at a compromise between those wanting in-person learning and those who wanted to stay in distance learning.

Learning Centers are designed for parents and students who want an in-classroom environment with the help of staff member (administrator, certificated teacher and/or professional.  The goal with these centers it to provide more instructional time than a hybrid would offer. Its also aimed not to disrupt students schedules so late in the year by having to change teachers and in some cases schools that would accommodate a hybrid model.

The centers would open as early as April 19, 2021 which would a safe place close to home, adult supervision, access to Wi-Fi, support in connecting to Distance Learning, connect with peers and receive assistance with academics.

The move comes after the District put out a survey which showed 60% wanted to stay in the Distance Learning Model.

  • District Attendance: 92.53% between September through February
  • Middle School Grade Data:  69% of courses taken in Semester 1 resulted in a passing grade of D or better.
  • High School Grade Data: 73% of courses taken in Semester 1 resulted in a passing grade of D or better.

Here is the Letter released Thursday to parents:

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Good afternoon,

I once again hope that you and your loved ones are well. I write today with an update on Antioch Unified School District’s (AUSD’s) plan for the final quarter of the 2020-2021 school year.  

Throughout the pandemic, our core values have remained the same:

To open schools for in-person learning in a manner that is safe, is the least disruptive to families, and provides the most instructional time as possible.

At this time, the majority of parents surveyed (60%) would like to continue in distance learning through the end of the school year. However, we also recognize that some families would like their children to be in a school environment. To meet as many of our families’ needs as possible while staying true to the core values stated above, the Board of Education took the following action at its March 24, 2021 Board of Education Meeting:

    • Remain in distance learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year (students will continue with their same teachers and schedules).
    • Open 50+ learning centers across the District for students who may benefit from a classroom environment.  Learning centers will be staffed with either an administrator, teacher, or paraprofessional who can assist students with logging on, classwork, etc.
    • Provide an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in grades K-5 who attend Special Day Classrooms (SDC).
    • Provide an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in the Community Based Instruction (CBI) program.

Schools will be contacting their families in the next two weeks to ascertain who would like to participate in a learning center. Also included in this correspondence are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) regarding learning centers.

This summer we will also be providing several learning and enrichment opportunities that we will share with families in the coming weeks.

Thank you again for your support and understanding, we look forward to a successful end to the 2020-2021 school year.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Anello, Superintendent

School Board Discussion:

Trustee Gary Hack stated highlighted he trusted the District leadership.

“I trust the current leadership in the District. I trust the employees of this District… who make their best efforts to educate and keep safe those 17,000 students. I trust the surveys and the feedback. Most of the surveys showed 60% to 70%. Tonight its 85% who support distance learning.” Stated Hack. “I don’t believe COVID-19 is history, yet.”

Trustee Antonio Hernandez called the decision challenging.

“By the nature of it we are not going to make everybody happy and so I think its important to know when I am making this decision, I am thinking about all the students and what we can do to best support them by using the data and tools available to support them,” stated Hernandez.

Hernandez did reference a Stanford Study on reading loss but later there were gains back in the fall after the initial learning loss happened—could have been disruption in the abrupt switch from in person to distance learning.

“I’ve been trying to think about a lot when it comes to this. It by no means is an easy decision,” said Hernandez. “Everyone is going to be a little upset no matter what the decision is.”

Board President Ellie Householder stated to say she had been thinking about this decision would be to put it mildly.

“I want to echo the comment by Trustee Hernandez just said, no matter what we do, there are going to be some people who are unhappy,” stated Householder. “What I have tried to do the last several weeks is to try and allow my mind to wonder and allow myself to have a radical imagination to where if I could do anything tonight, what would it be. The answer is to go back in time and not have a pandemic. I just ay that to say there is no ideal outcome.”

Householder said its hard to fathom what the long-term effects of this will be and see what it would do to learning with deficits in some areas but strengths in other areas.

“This is probably the most consequential vote I will ever make,” stated Householder. “I’ve made myself sick worrying about this… I think this plan is the absolute best plan.”

She continued calling the hybrid model as something that is not working for people and Antioch being a commuter city, the plan they have is unique and a great plan in a difficult landscape.

“It’s truly tailored to the community and unique to districts,” said Householder who asked the Superintendent to explain how they came up with the idea.

Superintendent Stephanie Anello stated it came from trying to figure out how to best serve the students with learning centers and a group effort who credited Jessica Romero with coming up with it.

Romero highlighted that they took what was “in person” and what they would want to duplicate.

“When we put those needs on the board, we came up with the plan that would meet the 60%, but get to those other positives that would have been in hybrid mode,” explained Romero.

Householder stated “the playbook was out the window and in education its easy to default to the curriculum what the state tells us. Everything is regimented in aw ay and we have a district staff who decided not to do that.”

She called this model something in between Distance Learning and Hybrid while admitting nothing they voted on tonight would be satisfactory to everyone due to the unsatisfactory situation.

“If you’re going to get mad at somebody don’t get mad at the teachers,” Householder said. “But it’s the board’s decision, tonight. I’ve really felt like part of a team, even though I’m board president, I really feel part of a team.”

Trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis confirmed that parents who ant to stay in Distance Learning, they could and there is no mandatory thing where they have to go back. Lewis also confirmed the learning centers would be available to students, which would be a supervised setting where they login to work with their teachers while being supervised.

“Whatever decision made tonight is not going to be easy, I know there is going to be some blowback regardless of whatever side we sit on, but again, this is what leadership is,” stated Lewis who was willing to have conversations with the public on how the decisions were being made.

Trustee Mary Rocha asked about the learning centers and age groups joined together.

Anello stated they would not put high school with elementary schools so it would combine a few grades like first and second would be in a learning center.

For example, she highlighted the goal was 50 learning centers, but Dozier-Libbey Medical High School said 80% want to stay in Distance Learning so they may only need 1 or 2 learning centers.

“Bottom line, we are giving the parents the opportunity to decide which way they want to go,” stated Rocha. “At least we are giving that child an opportunity to get some help at the school to help them through the process. Distance learning has been a hardship and now we can see what else we can do to help out.”

Rocha stated she was thankful for the District for coming up with a plan to serve both those who want to continue Distance Learning or in-person through learning centers.

Householder reiterated the comment don’t get mad at the teachers; the decision untimely is with the Board of Trustees.

“It’s the board’s decision, tonight. I’ve really felt like part of a team, even though I’m board president, I really feel part of a team,” said Householder.

According to the staff report:

Approve remaining in distance learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, opening 50+ learning centers across the District for students who would benefit from a classroom environment, providing an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in grades K-5 who attend Special Day Classrooms, and providing an in-person learning option for students with disabilities in the Community Based Instruction program.

Throughout the pandemic, our core values have remained the same:

To open schools for in-person learning in a manner that is safe, is the least disruptive to families, and provides the most instructional time as possible.

At this time, the majority of parents surveyed would like to continue in distance learning through the end of the school year. However, we also recognize that some families would like their children to be in a school environment. To meet as many of our families’ needs as possible while staying true to the core values stated above, staff is recommending the following:

  • Remain in distance learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Open 50+ learning centers across the District for students who may benefit from a classroom environment.
  • Provide an in-person learning option for students with special needs in grades K-5 who attend Special Day Classrooms (SDC).
  • Provide an in-person learning option for students with special needs in the Community Based Instruction (CBI) program.

The Board passed the motion in a 5-0 vote.


Parents’ FAQs for Learning Centers

Q:  How do parents/guardians enroll their students in the learning centers?
A:  School sites will be reaching out to families who requested hybrid learning to enroll students into the centers.

 

Q:  Are parents required to enroll their students in the learning centers?
A:  No, this program is entirely voluntary. Families can continue to remain in distance learning.

 

Q:  What are the opening dates for the learning centers?
A: TK-6th grade Learning Centers will open the week of April 19th and 7th-12th grade Learning Centers will open the week of April 26th.

 

Q:  What will the learning centers hours be?
A:  Learning center hours of operation may vary slightly from site to site and could be impacted by the number of students requesting the learning center. Parents can expect that students would be present for a 3-hour block of time.

 

Q:  Will breakfast and/or lunch be served in the learning centers?
AStudents will be provided with a grab-n-go style package that will contain lunch, supper, and the next day’s breakfast upon dismissal. Water fountains will not be accessible as a measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Students should bring water each day.  It is recommended that families send students to school with a full, and reusable water bottle.

 

Q:  What are students allowed to bring with them to the learning center?
AStudents should bring their district-provided laptop and charger to the learning center each day.  If a student needs a device, they can check out a laptop at the district office.  Students are also allowed to bring headphones/earbuds, pens/pencils, notebook, water and a face mask. Schools will provide hand sanitizer, reusable water bottles, headphones and face masks for students who do not have these items.

 

Q:  Will I be notified if another student or staff member in my child’s learning center is diagnosed with COVID-19?
A:  Schools will follow contact tracing guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.  Families of students exposed to other students or staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified.

 

Q:  What safety protocols and procedures are in place in the learning centers?
A:  Students and staff will undergo daily health screening to include temperature checks. Students and staff shall wear masks at all times and masks will be provided for any student who needs one. Hand sanitizer is available in each classroom and other areas around campus. Appropriate social physical distancing will be maintained at all times.

 

Q:  Will students in the learning centers have recess or breaks and if so, where will they take place?
A:  Yes, students will have breaks during the day. Breaks will be staggered within the individual classrooms to minimize student contact. Students are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines at all times while on campus. The wearing of masks is required during recess. Playground structures will be closed. Staff will instruct students on appropriate non-contact activities.

You may also like

4 comments

Troy McClure Mar 25, 2021 - 6:08 pm

Perfect! Why inconvenience parents and teachers, because after all, it’s all about them!

Reply
Logically Reasonable Mar 25, 2021 - 10:18 pm

Who would have thought…. AUSD has more sense than the other Districts in the area. I’m surprised that train wreck of a District actually got something right. Congratulations, Oakley Union Elementary Schood Distict…. you are the new local dumpster fire!!!

Reply
Robert C. Mar 26, 2021 - 4:00 pm

“The hybrid model is not working for people”? How can Householder say that when it’s never been implemented?

Reply
Happy Parent Mar 27, 2021 - 7:52 pm

I appreciate the thoughtful approach the Superintendent and staff came up with. It’s been an awful year living with COVID, but my child is doing well with distance learning and I’m grateful she will not have a new teacher mid semester. THAT would have been devastating to her. Thank you AUSD for your continued support of our community.

Reply

Leave a Comment