During the Coronavirus crisis, schools throughout the county stepped up to ensure continuity of services to students. Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall met regularly (albeit virtually) with superintendents from the 25 school districts in the county and the public health officer so all districts received the same information and coordinated school closures to ensure student safety and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. When all public schools in the county closed on March 19, staff were ready to support students and families.
Schools throughout the county provided distance-learning options for students. For example, Modesto City Schools (MCS) printedpackets for students to review and offered online resources. The district distributed approximately 15,000 devices to students in grades K-6, trained teachers and administrators in virtual learning, and provided resources for families to assist their students in virtual learning. MCS also launched an Information Hotline to provide important updates, technology support, a recorded list of meal pick-up times and locations, and mental health support services. In addition, MCS staff volunteered to provide childcare for children ages 4-12 of “front-line” essential workers – first responders, health care workers and Nutrition Services staff. The program included meals and enrichment activities.
“I was amazed at how our staff stepped up to support our students, families and community during the pandemic,” said Modesto City Schools Superintendent Sara Noguchi, Ed.D. “Not only did we continue to provide our families with nutritious meals, and academic and social-emotional support, we supported our community by providing childcare for essential workers so they could work knowing their children were safe and well cared for. I am proud to lead this team who makes the magic happen!”
In the Ceres Unified School District (CUSD), every K-12 student already had an Internet-enabled device, so a challenge for their district was maintaining equity in a digital learning environment when many of their families lacked regular Internet access. “To supplement the low- and no-cost Internet solutions we already had in place, CUSD secured a large number of mobile hot spots that families borrowed while schools were closed,” said CUSD Superintendent Scott Siegel, Ed.D.
“The exuberance and creativity with which our staff met students’ and families’ needs will, I believe, profoundly change how students experienced this crisis. On a large scale, we continued to provide continuity of learning and nutrition, but beyond those core elements, we connected with students in unique and powerful ways – from Zoom check-ins and virtual music and P.E. challenges, to a district-wide virtual Spirit Week,” said Siegel. Schools sent mascots to encourage students at lunch pick-ups, and one school organized a ‘parade’ of teachers and staff who drove through neighborhoods as students waved and cheered from their yards and driveways. “All of this helped students maintain a sense of connection in these uncertain times,” said Siegel. “In addition, for students who needed support in managing their response to this crisis, CUSD continued to provide mental health services.”
CUSD parents appreciated the connections. “My daughters LOVED when I received an alert that their teachers were having a Zoom class,” said a Lucas Elementary Dual Language Academy Parent. “They missed going to school and this allowed them to have some kind of normalcy. I pray that this pandemic ends soon, but I am so blessed to know my kids’ teachers are still communicating with their students.”
The Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) also came together to ensure students’ needs were met during the time of uncertainty and isolation. “We provided drive-up and delivered meals, remote story-telling, televised learn and share, dress-up pajama days, personalized letters to students, and connections to social-emotional support staff,” said TUSD Superintendent Dana Trevethan. “These were just a few of the selfless, compassionate acts of our staff—all geared to keeping our students connected and knowing they matter to us in TUSD.”
“These were unprecedented times for everyone throughout the nation,” said Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall.“I’m grateful to Stanislaus County’s amazing education community for everything they did, and continue to do, to support our students, staff and families during this national health emergency.”