Parents readying for unprecedented year as San Diego Unified unveils online learning plan

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SAN DIEGO – The online learning plan for the upcoming school year has been released for the San Diego Unified School District, giving parents, students and teachers a better idea of what to expect in this unprecedented year.

The plan for the state’s second-largest school district consists of a six-hour school day with customized learning experiences for K-12. The school day includes up to three hours of online instruction, at least two hours of independent learning and one hour of working with other students or office hours with teachers.

But some parents like Bethany Springs said they wish the schedule was more flexible for students.

“What I really think they should have offered is an option where it’s — yes, it’s six hours — but does it have to be on a schedule from 8 a.m. to 12 or 1?” Springs said. “As long as the work’s getting done and they’re doing that, I don’t feel it should be necessary to meet with them on a daily basis.”

Students can expect daily interaction with their teachers through video conferencing. They’ll also be graded on their work, a decision districts nationwide have expressed mixed feeling about as they have shifted to mostly distance learning.

One complaint parents had during the spring semester hampered by COVID-19 was having to become acquainted with many new software platforms. This time around, district officials say they are limiting the amounts of platforms parents and students will have to use.

“It was confusing — where to go, how to login,” Springs said. “There was a math program, a reading program, there’s the Zoom meetings, this login, that login. We were just all over the place.”

School district officials said they also are working to provide free computers and Wi-Fi to families that need it.

In early July it was announced that all classes would be held online at the start of the school year. In the meantime, the school district is monitoring the virus situation in San Diego County to determine when students might return to a physical school location.

Some parents say they are still worried about the possibility of in-person learning, but note how valuable the in-person interaction would be for their kids.

“Of course I want my kids back in school for their mental health,” Springs said. “I asked my 14-year-old specifically, ‘What do you want to do if you have these three options? You could do full distance learning, you can do half and half or you can go back to school full time with safety precautions when they allow.’ And her response was, ‘I wanna go back to school.’”

The school year begins for San Diego Unified students Aug. 31.

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