In fall 2020, virtual events mean that parents can meet all of their children’s teachers. (Courtesy photo)

There’s good access to online back-to-school events

Parents may attend gatherings hosted by all of their children’s teachers

Now, more than ever, as we are engaged in distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s apparent how a child’s family is their first and most influential teacher.

Just imagine what a difference it can make for a child when everyone is working together to make sure they have what they need to learn and grow.

I know firsthand that my mother being involved at my high school made the difference in what classes I was taking, which made all the difference in me being prepared for college.

At San Francisco Unified School District, we recognize that authentic partnerships with our students’ families and communities are essential to achieving our primary mission: that every student graduates prepared to succeed in college, career and life.

Our schools are best when family members, teachers and other school staff, students and community members team up to make meaningful learning experiences and cultivate a positive school climate for everyone.

Even though we’ve begun this school year from a distance, schools are still upholding their new year traditions. For instance, in the first few weeks of the school year, every school has a Back to School event for families. These special events are happening at schools throughout September, and are a chance for family members, students, teachers and other school staff to come together — albeit virtually — to learn about what’s planned for the year.

In addition to sharing rules and expectations, families often have opportunities to understand their child’s grade-level expectations and the resources in place to help students reach these expectations.

At Sanchez Elementary School, the back-to-school event is called Families and Teachers United Week. The school sees this week as an opportunity to listen, build relationships and shift the “power dynamic.” Teachers work with students and families to set goals that can be revisited throughout the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly prefer in-person Back to School nights. I really, really love being surrounded by a multicultural and multigenerational community that is coming together to focus on learning.

But online gatherings do bring some new opportunities. For the first time ever, if your child has multiple teachers, you don’t have to choose which one you’ll go to talk to. Many schools have created ways for families to meet all the adults their child interacts with.

Every parent and guardian has a rich fund of knowledge about their child. Let’s work together to provide the best educational experience for your children.

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

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