By John W. Davis, Contributing Writer
INGLEWOOD — The continued threat of COVID-19 has caused the Inglewood Unified School District to move forward with its plan to begin the 2020-21 school year online.
The district held five virtual town hall meetings, to discuss the district’s 100% distance learning school reopening plan with parents and guardians between Aug. 11-13.
The goal was to create a social distanced forum where parents could ask district leaders questions, as the school year will begin in Inglewood Aug. 24.
Parents are concerned with how absences will be recorded for students. District leaders said they understand various scenarios will arise. That’s why they want to be helpful to prevent chronic absenteeism
Parents also are concerned if students who are in child care will be able to participate in distance learning during the school day. District leaders said they are willing to work with individual child care providers to help students access their virtual classrooms.
Families also learned their children with special needs like speech and behavior therapy will continue to receive individual services and educational plans.
Other topics included health and safety, instruction, social and emotional learning, family and community engagement and operations.
For example, whenever students are allowed to go to school in person again, they will notice facilities have face shields and plexiglass barriers at all school entrances. Also, new signage around schools promotes physical distancing and other COVID safety measures.
“We are in this together,” said Erika Torres, the district’s county administrator. “We know that it has been challenging, but I want you to know that we are working really hard in partnership with our teachers, our classified staff, our principals, our entire team in our district to make this transition as easy as possible.”
Torres was appointed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education in 2019 to oversee the district, which has been under state control since 2012, after accepting emergency state loans to make sure the district did not go bankrupt.
Meanwhile, district leaders also shared with parents the minimum number of required daily instructional minutes.
The breakdowns are three hours for kindergarten students, three hours and 50 minutes for students in grades one through three, and four hours for students in fourth grade through high school.
“It is critical that our students be engaged in the instructional program on a daily basis,” said the district’s Chief Academic Officer Bernadette Lucas.
Inside virtual classrooms, district leaders have also built in time for students to socialize with their friends.
“We will continue specialized programs for our students,” Lucas said. “In other words, we want to make the instructional program equivalent to that which our students would have been experiencing had they been on site.”
The district also will offer a parent education academy. Resources will be in the form of pre-recorded videos and live workshops. Parents will be provided with the necessary technology skills and educational techniques to help their children learn in a virtual setting.
Hotspots will be provided to families that need them for internet access.
The district also will distribute devices during distance learning. Every student will have their own iPad or Chromebook by mid or late September. The delays are due to the increased demand for technology across all school districts.
Each of the district’s 17 schools will host a virtual orientation, where specific schedules will be shared, before the first day of school, which is Aug. 24.