- Community and Parents
Dear Westside Parents, Staff and Community Members,
The opening of our 20-21 school year will certainly be different than any opening we’ve experienced in the past. With orders from our Governor and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, all class instruction must be through distance learning for now. As you are aware, the Board had planned to offer distance learning for those parents who wanted their children to remain at home for this school year, a hybrid model where students were to be in a face-to-face class 2 days per week and on distance learning 3 days a week, and 5 days per week face-to face program for some of our special needs students and a small 5 day per week face-to-face program for District K-6 students at Leona Valley School. Because of the government mandates, those offerings are not possible now, but will again be considered when the mandates are lifted. All students will start with distance learning on Monday, August 10th.
Correspondence about the opening of school, teacher assignments for the year, and middle school schedules have been made available from your children’s school principals, and many teachers have also sent along recorded introductions. Your children should have already picked up their classroom text materials, a Chromebook if they were not issued one last year, and several items of information from their schools. If you were unable to pick up your materials during the scheduled time, please contact personnel in the school offices to make arrangements to do so.
This year, the District also started an online registration and transfer process through PowerSchool. We hope that you have taken the time to enroll both you and your child into the program so that you can access the gradebook and other important information. Some parents reported some difficulty with signing up for a PowerSchool Parent Account. If you are one of our families with any issues, please contact our Enrollment staff through the District’s “Let’s Talk”, then choose “PowerSchool Parent Account” as your category.
Students must be logged onto their classroom daily, and each teacher will provide additional guidance on how that will work for his/her class. Attendance must be taken everyday by the teacher, and you will need to clear all absences through the phone number provided for your children’s school. Students whose attendance is inconsistent and/or unaccounted for can expect a phone call and/or visit from the school staff. Attendance has been shown to be one of the main contributing factors to school success, so please help your children develop good habits of attendance. This is a college/career readiness skill that is recorded on the report card, and that helps prepare each student for active and consistent attendance when attending college or trade school programs, or entering the job market. Also, remember that by state regulation, any child who misses more than 10% of the school days (18 days) in the school year for any reason (including illness, medical appointments, unexcused, unverified, suspension) is considered a chronic absentee, and lack of attendance is a consideration for retention at the end of the school year.
Lunch count will also be taken every day not later than 8:30 a.m. so that lunches can be readied for the students. Lunches will be available for all schools from 11 a.m. to noon, and will be served "Grab n Go" style from all District Schools. Unlike meal service throughout the summer and end of the school year, free meals require a new, approved application.
For those of you planning to attend our next Board meeting, it will take place on Tuesday, August 18th, with the public session beginning at 6 p.m. The meetings are on YouTube and you can find the agenda for the meeting posted on our website on Friday, August 14th. One of the things you will find during the meetings in August and September is that we are honoring several of our teachers who have decided to retire during the first quarter of this year. We appreciate their dedicated service to our students and wish them the best of luck in the next chapter of their lives.
Some of you may be interested in participating in the development of our Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan that must be submitted to our County Office of Education by September 30th. This is a temporary measure set in place for this school year and will identify how we plan to address learning loss from the 19-20 school year, how we plan to instruct our students for the 20-21 school year, and how we plan to ensure that students are in regular attendance at school. We will be consulting with School Site Councils, but will also have opportunities for all parents to provide input on this plan. The plan format was provided from the State on August 1st and our completed plan must be presented for a public hearing and approval before submission. In our case, the public hearing will be held at the Board meeting on September 1st and the approval vote will be scheduled for the Board meeting of September 15th. Your input is valued, so please take time to participate. In addition to the School Site Council meetings at your child’s school, you can also participate in two additional input sessions. Those sessions are the Superintendent’s Advisory meeting on August 25th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and The District English Language Advisory on August 28th for 9:00-11:00 a.m. Look for more information on these two sessions in the coming weeks.
As the school year progresses and your children are working with your support using our Chromebooks and various apps, you may need assistance with the devices and some of the software being used. Please check our website for helpful information being set-up especially for parents. Short videos are available to help you and your students with the Chromebook and the District curriculum, so we hope you will avail yourself of these resources. Also, we are establishing information for parents about social emotional learning, and our counselors and psychologists are available for individual support as needed. We are establishing a list of children’s literature that you may find supportive as you discuss various topics with them. If you have recommendations of books that you would like to see added to that list, please send that recommendation to me via our Let’s Talk app. We will hope to have an expansive list by the end of the school year.
Parents asked for support with daily child care so that they can return to work knowing that their children are in a safe location, while being able to keep current on their school work. As a District, we are not licensed to provide this type of child care, nor do we provide before and after school care. Through outside vendors, we do provide before and after school care, and with recent changes in regulations by Los Angeles County Public Health, we are now able to work with those vendors to provide limited daily child care on some of our sites for essential workers who need support. If you are in need of child care, please contact Boys & Girls Club, Innovation Education or YMCA for information about their services. Again, because of social distancing these services are available but limited.
Some of you have expressed frustration with how long it has taken to receive final information about the opening of our school year. I apologize for any inconvenience that implementing programs has caused you and your family. I assure you that our staff has worked tirelessly since March to deliver effective instruction to our students amongst ever-changing directions for regulatory agencies. We all want our students to be safe, but we also want them to be engaged with rigorous, relevant and interactive instruction. This has been a difficult balancing process and has undergone several changes throughout the summer. Our instructional staff is looking forward to the return of our students tomorrow, and beginning a new, unique and challenging school year. However, know that we are doing the best we can in a format (distance learning) that we are still perfecting. With your support, together we will provide the best learning opportunities possible for our students.
Again, welcome to our new school year. We are excited to have you as part of Westside Union School District.
Regina L. Rossall
- Welcome Back