Spring is the season of new beginnings. Our students and their schools are embarking on a new beginning together.
We are preparing to gradually return thousands of students to in-person learning while also providing distance learning to the many elementary students whose families wish for them to remain at home. For middle and high students, only a select few –– what we call our focal student population –– currently have the option to return in April.
We know it’s important for students in both in-person and distance learning to be included in the classroom community. Teachers will use similar structures of daily community building and social emotional learning time across in-person and distance learning. We recognize that students and families will experience this last part of the school year in different ways and we want to be sensitive to that and meet students where they are.
The end of the school year is a time of celebration and reflection, and –– though nothing about this year has been like any other –– children and youth benefit from routines and we’re going to spend the last weeks of school like we’d spend the last weeks of any school year: celebrating what we’ve learned, building unity, learning how to collaborate in new ways, and reflecting.
We have instructional guidance to support teachers with both in-person and distance learning. Teachers will help students talk about how strong they are and the lessons they’ve learned in distance learning. They will encourage each student to reach their full potential, whether they require extra support or a new challenge.
Some students and families may be feeling anxiety with all the changes. This is perfectly OK.
For those who have children returning to school buildings, we encourage families to read SFUSD’s Return Safely Guide, which is available in English, Español, 中文, Tagalog, Gagana Sāmoa, Tiếng Việt, عربي. Students and families can also watch our playlist of informational videos about preparing to return to in-person learning.
We’re excited to welcome back thousands of students next week. And, if you’re one of those who is staying in distance learning for now, your classes are still one community and we believe all students are equally important members of that community.
Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.