March 21, 2020 - RVSD Updates on COVID-19 and Distance Learning

Dear RVSD Community

What a week this has been!  As I shared yesterday on Twitter, the first known public school in the United States (the “Boston Latin School”) opened its doors in 1635.  In the 385 years since, many aspects of our public education system have remained remarkably constant.  For 385 years students reported to a place called “school,” where they grouped together in classrooms and instruction was provided by a teacher.  Students read, wrote, computed, participated in assessments and did homework.  They had regular structured physical activity (i.e. PE), studied the arts and enjoyed community time together (i.e. lunch, recess, passing period, etc.).  This is how it was for almost four hundred years.

On March 16th, RVSD and districts all over America significantly altered some of public education’s most foundational and long-standing traditions.  And we did it in a matter of seconds with a few clicks of a mouse.

No wonder you and we are all exhausted!  I think all of us are looking forward to a weekend where we and our families can unplug, share some well-deserved quality time together (while practicing social distancing, of course) and try to make some sense of all that is happening in the world around us.

We know COVID-19 has placed many new challenges in your lap, including now having the added responsibility for being an even greater (and more active) participant in your student’s daily education. It’s a huge responsibility, added on top of all the other challenges this pandemic is causing.  Thank you, as always, for all you are doing to take care of yourselves and your families.

This week has been a roller coaster for many of us, with incredible highs and lows as well as seemingly constant changes in terms of what our leaders and medical experts tell us will happen next.  Just one week ago today our schools were open and operating as schools have for centuries.  Today we are completely online and our interactions with students and each other is through a computer screen.  Whenever I find time to pause and reflect on all this, it boggles my mind.

So, you may be wondering as you look forward to a weekend without helping support and facilitate your students’ schooling, what’s next?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that question, but there are some things we know.  First, we now know that last night Governor Newsom issued a statewide “shelter in place” order that, at least for now, has no end date.  This order supersedes the March 16th order from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which directed us to shelter in place through April 7, 2020.  It is possible Governor Newsom could amend his order’s duration, so it coincides with that of our DHHS, but as of today that has not happened.  What we do know now is that the shelter in place and by extension, school closure, is in effect until further notice.  Parents have asked me if I think we will be closed through the end of the school year.  Governor Newsom has now twice shared his opinion that this will be the case … but again, we have not received any firm direction on this from him, the CDE, the MCOE or anyone.  At this point, all I believe we can safely assume is that unless we hear otherwise, RVSD will likely be closed for some period beyond Spring break.

As a result of the likelihood that our closure will now extend beyond what any of us had been told to expect, we are making a few adjustments to our distance learning program that we want to share with you:

  • This coming Monday (March 23, 2020) and every Monday thereafter (until further notice) will be a teacher work/planning day.  This means that on Mondays, students will not receive uploaded assignments, nor will they be expected to participate in online lessons, class meetings, office hours or individual check-ins.  Teachers will respond to emails, calls and other communications, Tuesday through Friday. As with any normal non-student day, on Monday students are always welcome and encouraged to continue their studies with previously assigned work/projects, read independently, catch-up on missed/incomplete assignments, etc.  Mondays may also be a good time for students to try to engage in activities away from the keyboard.
  • Starting this coming week, the RVSD District Offices (110 Shaw Drive in San Anselmo) will be open to the public from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesdays only.  We sincerely regret this inconvenience, but we must also practice social distancing and sheltering in place until the current order is lifted.  During our public hours, we will continue to check-out chromebooks, distribute printed “continuity of learning” packets, provide multi-day lunches to eligible students and distribute other materials to specific individuals as needed.  Please note we may be unable to make special arrangements for distributing these items outside of the hours listed, so please come or send someone who can come, between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM on Wednesdays only.

Hopefully this information is helpful to you.  We wish you and your family all the best as you continue to cope with this pandemic.  We will keep you posted as we learn more and as always, please reach out with any questions you may have.

Be well,

Rick

Rick E. Bagley, Ed.D., Superintendent