AUSD schools closed for rest of school year

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The district announced that school closure will be extended to the remainder of the school year in response to COVID-19 concerns. Instruction will continue to occur online through the school’s distance learning program.

The statement was made on Apr. 2 and complies with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s recommendations for all Californian schools to “proceed as if [they] can educate [their] kids through distance learning for the remainder of the school year.”

“This decision is driven by one primary concern: the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community,” District Superintendent Denise Jaramillo said. 

With the school closed, graduation will not go on as planned and the district is currently exploring alternate options. Year-end events, such as prom and Grad Bash, have also been canceled. While senior Sophia Lin said that school dismissal was the right decision, she is still upset about missing out on senior activities. 

“It just feels as though COVID-19 took all these special and happy moments from me and my friends, especially graduation and prom, which [are] once in a lifetime kind of things,” Lin said. “Knowing that it is our senior year and how we are taking our separate ways in college, it hurts to be isolated from one another.”

The district is working on grading alternatives with local state schools, universities, and the California Department of Education. 

“By next week we will have a 4th quarter grading plan,” Jaramillo said. “It is important that student [instruction] continue and that students are not negatively impacted by this situation.”

As part of the distance learning program, teachers utilize Google Classroom, CollegeBoard, Zoom, email, and other mediums to connect with students and carry out lesson plans. Business Technology Academy teacher Jose Zaragoza said that distance learning has been an easy transition with Zoom, which he uses to “hear students’ thoughts and decompress together.”

“That first week [of school dismissal] helped me direct the path our distance learning journey should take based on [the students’] emotional state and living situations,” Zaragoza said. “I also have a large pool of resources to draw from so I’m excited to test them out.”

With technology being essential for participation in distance learning, students with no access to technology have the option of requesting to borrow laptops from the district through a Google Form. 

“The laptops distributed are the [Chromebooks] that students were using at school,” Jaramillo said. “We have heard that there are companies, such as Microsoft, willing to donate new equipment. We are looking into those options to access additional computers as we are able.”

The district is also serving free meals to anyone under 18 every Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meals can be picked up through drive-in and walk-up options at Granada, Marguerita, and Ynez Elementary Schools. 

“[A] child’s health and well-being is important to us,” Jaramillo said. “We strive to ensure a nutritious meal is available to [any] child so they may receive the nutrition they need.”

The district advises parents to contact the school’s principal if their child needs assistance.

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