A guide to the new school year

Happy New School Year!

The beginning of a new school year is a time to celebrate, and even though we’re beginning this year from a distance to protect the health and safety of our communities, I hope we can all find moments of joy, grace, and compassion to share in this new school year together.

I know the start of this school year brings many questions for SFUSD families. Questions like: What will distance learning look like? How will my child get the materials they need for school? What is my child’s schedule? What can I expect during these first few weeks of school?

I’m happy to share with you that SFUSD has created a guide especially for families, the Family Distance Learning Guide, where parents and caregivers can access this information and more.

If you’re a SFUSD parent, this guide is meant to be a resource to complement information from your child’s school. I encourage you to read it at your convenience, and I’m also dedicating this column to summarizing some of the key points and what you can expect as the school year begins.

What to expect in the first 30 days

As with any school year, the start of this year is focused on connection, building community and relationships, and getting oriented to school schedules, expectations and norms. School sites are sharing their specific schedule with families.The majority of our schools will begin at 9 am each day.

Within the first few weeks of the school year, all schools will check in with families to confirm that students have the materials needed to engage in distance learning. Schools will host distribution days to hand out devices to students who don’t have one and other instructional materials like books and packets. Schools will let families know about these days directly.

Also within the first 30 days, each school community will engage in wellness checks and host virtual back to school and orientation sessions.

Resources and supports for families

This guide also includes a lot of great tips and resources that are available to families. In my column last week, I shared some ways that families can create home learning spaces to maximize their child’s distance learning experience. This guide expands upon these supports for families and includes information about technology resources for families, school meals, coordinated care and wellness outreach, and how families can stay informed.

Finally, I want to remind you that as we figure out how to learn together in this new context, we know we won’t get “everything right.” But everyone at SFUSD is committed to doing and making this the best we can for our students.

Most of all, we hope that we partner with families and students in this journey. Let’s try our best and give ourselves a break. Reach out for help. We are in this together and together, we’ll get through it.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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