PUSD distributes laptops to students

(April 1) In preparation for next week’s transition to distance learning, the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) will distribute more than 6,000 Chromebooks to students and families who have requested access to a device for distance learning. The Chromebooks have all been disinfected and pre-packaged in advance, and will be distributed at each school site on Thursday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to noon.

“It is very important to ensure that all students are able to access distance learning when we launch … The process has been thorough, deliberate, and collaborative as we completely change the way we are educating our 36,500 students,” said PUSD Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps in a letter to staff and families.

PUSD families in need of devices filled out a device checkout form in advance and were then provided with pick up directions. Checkout will take place in 30-minute increments divided by the last name. If families cannot make Thursday’s checkout, there is a make-up check out time scheduled at all school sites for Friday, April 3, between 3 and 4:30 p.m.

What is distance learning?
Distance learning is a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom. State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond recommended all California public school districts move toward implementing distance learning during the COVID-19 emergency school closures.

During distance learning in PUSD, students will receive instruction, engage in assignments, collaborate virtually with classmates and receive feedback on their work from their teachers. The expectation is not for students to be online for the same amount of time they are physically in school. Distance learning allows for shorter, more condensed “classroom” time and more flexibility for students to go at their own pace. Teachers will also hold “office hours” for questions or clarification. Good digital citizenship is expected of all students in a digital learning environment.

Each teacher will provide a set learning schedule so students are not missing any valuable content. Teacher support will be provided online, through office hours and other communication. Student “attendance” and participation are important. Teacher sessions may be recorded in order to provide families some flexibility. Part of effective distance learning scheduling is building breaks into the day and not trying to put too much learning into one block. A general rule of thumb is 30 to 60 minutes of learning and then a break. Breaks may need to be more frequent for younger students.

The week of April 6-10 will be considered a soft launch for PUSD’s distance learning. This gradual transition is important to ensure teachers, students and families are able to work out any challenges they might encounter and navigate the tools, resources and schedules.