Please continue to visit our Distance Learning & School Closures webpage for the most up to date information from FUHSD on the 2020-21 school year.
We greatly appreciate the patience, support and empathy you have demonstrated over the course of the last five months. While the world has learned a great deal about COIVD-19 since we first closed our school campuses on March 13, there is still a great deal of uncertainty, fear and concern surrounding the pandemic.
Our partner agencies, including the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Santa Clara County Office of Education and California Department of Education, have done a great deal of work to provide districts with the critical information needed to reopen schools in the Fall. And while the requirements outlined for schools are robust, infection rates have continued to skyrocket over the last several weeks and it is clear the pandemic has not been brought under control in California or Santa Clara County. On Monday, July 13, Governor Newsom took a step back and reversed the reopening of certain businesses across the state, and last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reversed course regarding their previous statement and said it was no longer confident that opening schools in the middle of a public health crisis is the best option for children. That reversal symbolizes the speed with which our understanding of the current pandemic continues to change and evolve.
Therefore, because of the growth in infection rates, as well as many of the pedagogical and logistical challenges posed by the current safety and distancing requirements outlined by the County and State, we are announcing that FUHSD will begin the new school year in a distance learning model. While we know that the best education we can provide under normal circumstances is face-to-face, the six-foot distance requirement and the other guidelines that would have to be adhered to in an in-person hybrid learning model create a number of significant limitations for us as a district. In a hybrid model, we would be limited in how many instructional minutes we could provide and the ways our teachers could connect and interact with students. We believe that synchronous remote learning is a powerful tool when done right, and we are committed to providing our students with the best possible academic experience this school year.
We recognize that some student populations will need additional supports, with staff continuing to work on plans for how to best structure these supports. We will also be focusing on how to create robust and meaningful experiences for students in those courses and activities that rely heavily on hands-on learning and group participation.
We understand that this announcement will be disappointing to many of our students and families who were hoping for a return to at least partial in-person instruction in August. It is also difficult for our dedicated teaching and classified staff who dearly miss their students and colleagues. We all were hoping for a different outcome and to be able to welcome our students and families back in person for the start of the year, but the current realities of the pandemic simply do not allow for this. We have made this decision with the safety of our students, staff and entire community in mind, and we will continue to plan for a possible return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year as soon as public health conditions allow.
Over the summer we have provided thousands of meals to our students and families, continued to distribute technology to students, provided professional development on distance learning to our teachers and served over 900 students in our first-ever remote only Summer Academy. We will continue to provide these and other supports, including all of our regular mental health resources, to students and families in the coming year.
FUHSD will release the distance learning school schedule for 2020-21 shortly. Instruction will be more robust than during the three months of emergency remote learning that occurred from March to the close of the school year in June, with a full 180 minutes of instruction per course per week. Students and teachers will be expected to connect visually each period, and teachers will engage in the student learning experience throughout each period. Wednesdays will be devoted largely to staff development and collaboration, with students working independently on assignments.
Following the release of the school schedule, students and families will receive additional information, including individual class schedules and the process to request changes, from their individual school site by August 10.
Again, we thank you for your support during what has continued to be a challenging time for all of us. While we have made the decision to start the year in remote learning, we know there are still many questions that must be answered before the start of school on August 17. While we don’t have answers to all of these questions today, we know that our collaborative efforts as a District will allow us to address these and other issues so that we can create the most robust academic environment for our students. We look forward to sharing additional details with you as soon as possible.