In response to a recent San Diego public health order mandating schools to remain closed indefinitely, the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) has extended school closures and initiated remote online learning starting this week.
While CUSD predicts to reopen schools after April, the transition to remote online learning may not be as short term as they thought. Yesterday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that remote learning will possibly continue through the rest of the academic year.
“None of us know when it will be safe enough for our students to return to campus, but out of an abundance of caution we believe all our schools have to maximize efforts for [distance learning],” Thurmond said.
For CUSD, this means that as long as students have access to an internet-connected device, they are expected to check their email and Google Classroom to keep up with each of their classes. Teachers were told to assign no more than an hour of work each week and to schedule weekly office hours, which will be held on Google Meet.
“This week is just a soft online start, one hour or less per prep, just to make sure kids get online and see who is responding,” English teacher and speech and debate coach Minnia Curtis said. “Next week is spring break, and then [we] will begin, but it will be a lesser degree than in school. We are not trying to replicate class.”
Principal Dr. Bryan Brockett also reinforced that this initial week is meant for a smooth transition in order to check students’ online engagement. If students are in need of an internet-connected device, they can request a district-issued Chromebook. CUSD also allows people to request help if they are experiencing any technological difficulties. At the end of the week, any student who did not check in with their teachers will receive a call home. In doing so, the school hopes to understand any circumstances that are preventing a student from getting their work done.
“I think we all want to stay very aware that different students have different stressors right now,” Curtis said. “While many may be perfectly able to jump back into school, others are watching siblings or may have parents with financial difficulties with jobs or [who are] first responders and [have] greater concerns of COVID. We want to be sensitive to the varying situations.”
Teachers are unable to grade any assignments at this time, however Brockett emphasizes that assigned school work is not optional. A CHS staff meeting will be held on April 3 to discuss updated rules for remote online learning as school closures continue.
“It’s been a fast-moving, dynamic situation that has really snowballed,” Brockett said. “The concern and responses to it as we’ve seen have snowballed over the last couple weeks to the point where day by day you’re trying to follow the best guidance that you have, and you may do that, and the next day that changes.”
While guidelines will continue to be updated, CUSD expects students to complete their weekly assignments in order to keep up with classes, especially in preparation for Advanced Placement (AP) exams. To stay on top of AP classes, the College Board now offers free AP review courses on Youtube, which can be watched live or viewed at a later time, and CUSD has compiled a list of resources for AP studying as well. To stay organized, Brockett offered students a weekly planner template. Having an organized planner at this time could help students keep track of their remote learning, as each teacher sets their own office hours and weekly expectations.
“It is my hope that when students leave Carlsbad High School they retain an interest in learning,” Brockett said. “As in, just being a curious person who enjoys learning new things and challenging themselves. Our vision is to develop a community where students reach their potential both in the classroom and beyond. And two of the pillars of our district’s graduate profile are that students are Lifelong Learners and Self-Directed Individuals. None of that necessarily has anything to do with what we think of as traditional classroom work. It’s about a mindset. This is the perfect time to cultivate that mindset around what it means to be a learner.”