During a pandemic where students are now required to stay home, navigating a new normal for school learning, one school district, San Diego Unified School District, representing over 125,000 students, appears to stand behind the rest. One can visibly see activity and direct communication efforts being made by other school districts in San Diego county to ensure that students have access to what they need. To the contrary, particularly for city of San Diego schools, the action plan by San Diego Unified School District does not appear to be clearly communicated to parents and families.
The majority of students who live within this district’s boundaries are Black and Brown. Is it a coincidence that the families of these students are not yet receiving the access they need to continue their path to continuous learning? It’s difficult to avoid making this comparison, due to the reported disparities San Diego Unified School District is known for.
In Poway Unified School District, April 2nd was Chromebook Distribution day, distributing over 6,000 devices to students. This effort started weeks ago with the district sending out notices to families and requesting for those who were in need to fill out the device distribution form. For those who missed the April 1st deadline, a make up checkout time has been scheduled.
The Lemon Grove School District website highlights a Parent Update and lists a Chromebook Setup Support Help Line and low-cost internet access opportunities through Cox Communications. The district’s IT employees teamed up with partners and began mailing Chromebooks to students the end of March.
Sweetwater Union High School District has posted a Distance Learning Survey on their website to determine the technology needs of their students.
There are a few examples of schools in San Diego Unified School District that have acted, such as KIPP Adelante Academy, in addressing device challenges for students.
According to San Diego Unified School District, April 6th begins the transitioning into distance learning. The district reported in March that Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots would be distributed by the end of April following spring break, however, the level of communication to the parents and families is unclear. The question has to be asked: How is it that San Diego County school districts that receive less State funding per ADA than San Diego Unified, are able to pull this off?
On the district website, communication does not address device needs of students and information on how to request access is not listed. The same goes for the district’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media pages. In a district where Black and Brown students still struggle and where the opportunity gap leadership pledged to tackle has been virtually unchanged, this is not the time to remain behind. Communication should be frequent, specific and clear. It’s time to act and stand behind and meet the needs of the students and families. It’s time to put words to action.