Dear GUSD Parents, Staff and Students,
The reopening of K-12 public schools has received much attention this month at all levels of our society including comments by President Trump, Governor Newsom, California State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond, and Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. It has also been discussed at many school board meetings across the state and country.
At the July 14, 2020 Gilroy Unified School District’s Board meeting, our school board unanimously approved the plan to start the school year in distance learning. The following day, Governor Newsom ordered public schools in the counties on the State’s watch list (currently 32) to start the year in distance learning. Therefore, on August 12, 2020, all Gilroy Unified Schools will start the school year in distance learning. Governor Newsom’s order requires counties to be off the State’s watch list for 14 consecutive days in order for districts to fully reopen with in-school learning. We are hopeful that direct services can be offered at some point in the fall to at least small groups of students.
GUSD Distance Learning Plan
Distance learning will occur online for all students in the Gilroy Unified School District. In our distance learning model, students and teachers will participate in daily live lessons. Distance learning will be conducted on a set schedule. Students will log-on to class meetings every day for a specific period of time, and will participate in a virtual classroom that includes classmates and teachers from their school sites. We have received many emails and questions about the GUSD distance learning plan. The recently approved State budget and trailer bills included numerous new provisions related to distance learning that the district must follow. Based on these provisions, GUSD’s distance learning plan includes the following elements.
- Just like when students are attending school in person, daily attendance in distance learning will be required and teachers will take attendance each day and/or period.
- School staff will follow up with students and parents about absences.
- Daily live interactions with certificated employees and peers will be provided for the purposes of instruction, progress monitoring and maintaining school connectedness.
- At the elementary level, the daily live instruction from school teachers will be a combination of group instruction, small group instruction, opportunities for interventions and ELD support.
- At the secondary level (middle and high) the five days of live interaction with teachers will be provided in rotating blocks.
- Teachers will use State-approved and Board-adopted curriculum.
- Students at all grade levels will follow a daily schedule and all secondary courses will be offered with a few exceptions.
- Students in grades 6-12 will receive A-F grades and progress reports.
- Elementary students (grades TK-5th) will receive grades pursuant to GUSD's regular grading policy.
- Aeries and Parent Square will be available for teachers, parents and students to communicate, update progress and provide feedback.
- Professional development will be provided to teachers and staff leading into and throughout the school year to assist with the implementation of the distance learning plan.
- Administrators will work closely with teachers and will regularly visit classes to offer support and to reinforce acceptable student behaviors in the virtual classroom.
- District office staff and instructional specialists at school sites will provide support to teachers.
GUSD will continue to offer all specialized programs, including: the Biomedical Science Academy at Gilroy High School, the Computer Science Academy at Christopher High School, Career Technical Ed (CTE) courses at both Gilroy and Christopher High Schools, the Dual Immersion program at Las Animas Elementary, Rod Kelley Elementary, South Valley Middle and Gilroy High Schools, and the GATE program at Rucker Elementary and Brownell Middle Schools.
Visit the following links to find additional details about distance learning:
- 2020-21 school year information: https://www.gilroyunified.org/enroll-in-gusd/2020-21-school-year-information
- Elementary school students (TK-5th grades): https://www.gilroyunified.org/enroll-in-gusd/distance-learning-tk-to-5th-grades
- Secondary students (grades 6-12): https://www.gilroyunified.org/enroll-in-gusd/distance-learning-6th-to-12th-grades
We have also received emails and questions about other aspects of the Fall 2020/distancing learning plan. Here are answers to questions you may have:
Computers and Internet Connections
Every student who does not have an available computer at home will be provided with a Chromebook by the District and families without an internet connection will receive a hotspot connection. The schedule for the distribution of Chromebooks, which begins on August 4, will be sent to families directly. Staff members will call families to gauge their need for technology prior to the start of distribution. Parents and students will attend a short training on the use of the Chromebook on the same day of pick-up.
Child Care for Essential Workers
The Santa Clara County Office of Education is offering information for essential worker childcare. For more information, please visit: https://www.covidchildcarescc.org/child-care-application
High School Athletics
On Monday, July 20, 2020, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Coast Section (CCS) announced that fall sports will be moved to the Spring 2021. There will be no athletic conditioning until students return to school. You can read the full release from CIF here: https://bit.ly/20-21CIFStatement.
The Gilroy Unified School District will continue to provide breakfast and lunch for students during the school week (Monday-Friday). Parents or caregivers will be able to pick-up meals. The District is currently determining distribution sites and scheduling to best fit families’ schedules. Applications for free or reduced meals are being accepted now. For more information and to apply, visit: https://www.gilroyunified.org/parentstudent-resources/child-nutrition
Mental Health Services for GUSD Students
I am acutely aware of the impact of the COVID19 pandemic has had for some of our students. This has been a tough year for our community. We are still healing from the effects of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival as well as coping with the uncertainty of these times. The Gilroy Unified School District is committed to supporting the social-emotional well-being of our school communities. Mental health agencies in South County will be providing much needed support for our students. We have Counselors available at all of our middle schools and Academic Coordinators at our high schools who will provide academic, social emotional, and college/career development. Our counselors will continue in their efforts towards removing barriers that interfere with student success and continue providing interventions. If someone in your family is struggling, please encourage them to reach out for help. We have a list of resources available here: https://bit.ly/GUSDMentalHealthResources. Support is free of charge and is confidential.
Middle School After School Sports
Middle school afterschool sports will not be offered until the County and State permit the return of students to school and explicitly allow athletics to resume.
All other in-person extra-curricular activities will not be offered until the County and State permit the return of students to school and explicitly allow in-person activities to resume.
Families will be notified by their schools regarding dates for distribution of textbooks and other instructional materials.
Class of 2021 activities
High school and district administrators are discussing ways to provide senior activities for our seniors throughout the year. More details will be provided as the school year proceeds.
GUSD Virtual Learning Academy
The Gilroy Unified School District will be providing an alternative option for families to enroll their students in the GUSD Virtual Learning Academy, a separate year-long online program that will last the entire school year, whether the pandemic improves or not. GUSD will be offering the VLA option for families who are concerned about an in-person return to school at any point in the 2020-21 school year. Admission in the VLA is by application only, and that period closes Monday, July 27, 2020. Parents DO NOT need to complete a Virtual Learning Academy application UNLESS you wish to register your child(ren) in the program. If children are enrolled in GUSD schools, they are automatically registered and will participate in distance learning.
Enrollment in the VLA is a yearlong commitment. Caregivers will be the learning guides for their children as they work through online course materials, provided by Edmentum. GUSD teachers will act in support roles for students throughout the year. More information and a comparison of the two programs can be found here: https://www.gilroyunified.org/enroll-in-gusd/virtual-learning-academy.
** We have extended the application for the VLA to Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Applications are due by 5:00 pm. Click here to apply: https://forms.gle/oET5apfd2QRtU3SD6.
If you wish to withdraw your VLA application, please email Kathleen Biermann: firstname.lastname@example.org.
These past few months have been challenging for all of us and the near future is filled with many questions and uncertainly. I remind myself often that GUSD like every district in our county and state are faced with finding solutions to daily challenges and having to do so very quickly. The Gilroy community has demonstrated its resilience in the last year, and I am confident that we will continue to do the same. I am optimistic that the questions we all have will be answered with the start of instruction and the school year. New questions will inevitably arise, but we will continue to move forward together. I am excited to begin the 2020-21 school year, as I always am, but this year in particular, I eagerly anticipate the new heights our staff and students will reach. In the meantime, please keep offering your input, asking great questions, being socially distant and please wear your masks.
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores
Superintendent, Gilroy Unified School District
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