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SRSC Update 04/07/20: School Closure
Posted 4/7/20

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April 7, 2020

Dear San Rafael City Schools’ Community:

The purpose of this message is to update you on the COVID-19 situation with my thoughts on its impact on how we operate to serve our students. With the health and safety of all students and staff in mind, and through consultation with our public health officials from across the region, San Rafael City Schools joins other school districts from around the Bay Area to announce that school closure has been extended for in-person instruction through the end of this school year. All SRCS school campuses are closed and we will continue to provide virtual instruction through remote learning for that duration of time. Please see the joint press release between the Marin County Office of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and the County of Marin here.

While I know this is the prudent, responsible decision, I also know the implications are something our students could never have anticipated. Spring is a time within the District that brings memorable experiences and meaningful connections within our school communities from open houses, field trips, class picnics to graduations, school dances and sporting events. Our school community is missing out on countless in-person celebrations and well-deserved recognition of achievements. This is a challenge for all of us and unfortunately, the world is living under similar circumstances under this intense crisis. 

Remote learning is not regular school nor is it a teacher's best practice. Most of our parents are not teachers. The intentionality of school and the experience of learning in the classroom cannot be swapped out for a Chromebook and on-line lessons. While school is about academics, it is also a place for meaningful connection, social-emotional learning, and learning from and collaborating with peers. Parents everywhere share similar worries and concerns. What I have heard most clearly regarding remote learning from parents across the board is the need for their students to have regular opportunities to connect in real-time with their teachers. We will continue to support our teachers with professional development and training on all of the tools at our disposal, including Google Hangout Meet and Zoom, to ensure we have safeguards in place so that safety is not compromised. Teachers are getting more comfortable and skilled in preparing online lessons every day, and the quality of the learning will continue to improve.

I am heartbroken for the class of 2020. Our inspiring graduating seniors have earned their proms, graduations, and all the celebrations that typically come for every senior class. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they should get to experience “senioritis!” It hurts to see them not have the senior year memories they so deeply deserve. We will do everything possible to support them during their transition and will come up with a creative and special way to commemorate their accomplishments. One suggestion we will act on is to form a high school graduation task force to look at all the different options available to us, including virtual options.  Our high school PTA leaders have agreed to chair this Task Force, and we will also set up a Website to share more ideas and information. More information to come on this soon.

Currently, the biggest challenge we are facing is how to grade students, especially at the secondary level. There are many factors for us to consider as we want to make sure we are meeting the needs of all students, and also appreciate that remote learning is a completely new way of teaching and learning for our staff. Grading will be very challenging. We have lots of guidance from the California Department of Education, from the UC/CSU system and other colleges and universities. We are gathering input from a broad spectrum of educators, parents, and students, and we will begin to address the question of grading at our next Board of Trustees meeting on April 13 at 6:00 PM.  Please join us virtually to participate in the discussion. The agenda for the April 13 meeting will be posted later this week on the District's Agenda Online Homepage.

Many of you have asked the question, “How can we help?” First of all, I am so thankful for that question. There have been so many wonderful foundations, non-profit organizations, individuals and corporations who have generously given their time, resources and financial contributions on behalf of our community. We are forever grateful for their service. While we are not asking for donations, but since many of you have asked, if you are able and willing to financially contribute, please consider the following organizations who are directly supporting our community:

  • Our bi-weekly food pantries would not happen without the support of the remarkable San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. Their support has enabled SRCS to feed over 700 families per week. They continue to set up additional pop-up pantries around San Rafael and Marin supporting vulnerable seniors and our families. Donate here to the SF-Marin Food Bank.
  • Canal Alliance has set up a client support fund, giving $350 grants to every family on their caseload. They've distributed over 200 grants so far, but have over 500 families yet to receive one. Your donation will help hardworking immigrants put food on the table, pay rent and utilities, and cover for other urgent expenses. Donate here to the Client Support Fund.

I have never been so proud of how our community is coming together and how we are supporting and caring for one another.

 

Thank you for staying home. Thank you for following proper physical distancing protocols. The joyful voices of our students on the playground are sorely missed. Yet through all of the new life changes we are experiencing, we are exhibiting love and care for each other, our elders, and our community. 

We Are One. We will forever be one. Todos Somos Uno.

We miss your students dearly. 

 

Sincerely,


Jim Hogeboom, SRCS Superintendent

Joint Press Release 04/07/20