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San José Unified Launches the Virtual School Day – First public school district in Bay Area to provide a full school day for students who are distance learning

August 11, 2020

San José, CA – Tomorrow, the San José Unified School District, Santa Clara County’s largest school district, will welcome its 28,000 students back to school. San José Unified is the first school district in the Bay Area to offer a full school day to students who are distance learning. San José Unified’s 1,200 classroom teachers are providing live instruction and interaction to students throughout the day, with most of the teachers working in their empty classrooms and connecting to their students through videoconferencing and a new learning management system.

“We wanted a distance learning approach that would maximize the amount of time our students spend with their teachers and classmates,” said Nancy Albarrán, Superintendent of San José Unified. “Our teachers and staff have spent countless hours preparing for at home learning, and we are extremely proud to be able to connect with all of our students and families.”

In the past week, San José Unified has safely distributed tens of thousands of Chromebooks, iPads, hotspots, textbooks, and supplies to students. Teachers and staff have been provided with dozens of professional development modules on safety protocols, the technologies being used for distance learning, and how to effectively provide instruction to students at home.

In addition, San José Unified is offering training for families and students to help them navigate the new distance learning technologies. Families also have access to technical support and services to support social and emotional well-being.

“Our teachers and curriculum team have been amazing,” said Jodi Lax, Associate Superintendent of Instruction for San José Unified. “We learned from our experiences in the spring, our teachers are prepared for distance learning and a successful start to this school year.”

The school day is the same length as in previous years, with longer breaks built into the schedule to allow students adequate time to have a snack, play outside, and take a break from the screen. During the instructional blocks, teachers provide live instruction, assign work to students, and monitor the class as students work in smaller groups to complete assignments, similar to the in-person classroom.

“Operationally, this new instructional model has required massive changes throughout our organization,” said Stephen McMahon, Deputy Superintendent of San José Unified. “We have redirected millions of dollars to technology investments, secured PPE for our staff and students, and significantly modified the safety procedures and protocols for every process in San José Unified – from how we clean shared spaces to assigning dedicated workspaces to each of our employees to ensure appropriate physical distancing.”

San José Unified worked closely with its employee unions on work modifications, accommodations, and leaves to ensure that the individual circumstances of all employees were considered and to ensure employees would be available to serve the community. Today, San José Unified reached an agreement with the San José Teachers Association to expand the opportunity to work from home to more teachers. Prior to the agreement, San José Unified had already approved over 150 requests for employees to work from home.

“We are pleased to offer the opportunity to work from home to more employees,” said J. Dominic Bejarano, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for San José Unified. “Once we had agreement with the union that the quality of instruction from home would be equivalent to instruction from the classroom, we were happy to extend the option to all of our teachers.”

San José Unified will continue to collaborate with its community, including students, families, teachers, staff, and employee organizations, to collect feedback, to continue to improve at home learning, and to work to get students back on school campuses as soon as possible.

Parents and community members are encouraged to check the San José Unified website at http://www.sjusd.org for current information.

About San José Unified
San José Unified is an innovative urban school district that prepares today’s students to be the thinkers, leaders, and creators of tomorrow. San José Unified is reinventing the education system by bringing together teachers and staff with parents and students, inspiring each to discover their own greatness. Serving over 28,000 students from transitional kindergarten through high school in 41 schools from Downtown San José to Almaden Valley, San José Unified is Silicon Valley’s largest and most diverse public school system.

 

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