Like all other parts of California’s public education system, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence had to quickly pivot its focus in March when the COVID-19 pandemic closed classrooms throughout the state and ushered in widespread distance learning. At the CCEE’s June 4 board meeting, staff members unveiled the organization’s Continuity of Learning playbooks and spoke to how the State System of Support is serving local educational agencies during these uncertain times.
Comprising two versions, one for distance learning and one for hybrid learning, the Continuity of Learning playbooks suggest nine areas of focus for LEAs to guide planning for teaching and learning in the new COVID-19 context. The resource focuses on select best practices and high-level tools for districts to use or adapt to support their students, teachers and communities in their transition to new instructional models in the 2020–21 school year, said Sujie Shin, deputy executive director. “What we didn’t want this playbook to be was a broad repository of all the tools out there,” she said.
CCEE board member Sandra Lyon, superintendent of Palm Springs Unified School District, said she appreciated the synthesis of key tools during a time when administrators and other educational leaders are receiving guidance and information from all directions. “We’ve all got so many folders on our Google Drives, so it’s nice to have that all in one location,” Lyon said.
Webinars focus on distance learning, equity
Michelle Magyar, CCEE senior manager of continuous improvement, summarized an ongoing webinar series in which the agency is partnering with technical assistance providers and experts to provide distance and hybrid learning resources, guidance, training and professional learning. The sessions have drawn more than 6,000 participants, Magyar said.
The most popular event has been the Spotlight on Advancing Equity in an Era of Crisis Collaborative Distance Learning Series, a joint effort between the California Association of African American School Administrators, UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools and the San Diego County Office of Education. Representatives from each of the organizations offered insights into equity issues in a presentation to the CCEE board.
“We know that in crises like these our most vulnerable children are always at the greatest risk,” said Pedro Noguera, director of the UCLA center. He added that while no one had the time or resources to prepare for this pandemic, the state must better position itself to eliminate barriers to academic achievement and tackle systemic inequities. “We look forward to future projects, because we know the work will never be complete,” added Daryl Camp, superintendent of San Lorenzo USD and president of CAAASA, who is also a CSBA Governance Consultant.
Board members also heard a presentation from five county offices of education on their work in the Distance Learning Consortium. Kern, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego COEs have been collaborating to build and share downloadable distance learning content on learning management systems, with Shasta COE providing technical support for rural LEAs.
Memo outlines recommendations to better equip schools
The CCEE also recently posted a memo aimed to help school communities emerge from the current crisis “better equipped to address ongoing challenges while propelling equity and staying committed to remaining student-, family-, and educator-focused.” The memo’s sections are organized by the following guiding questions:
- How do we ensure the physical safety of our students, staff and families while reopening schools?
2. What statutory or budgetary waivers or flexibilities may need to be considered to facilitate a safe and equitable return to schools?
3. How do we prepare teachers, students, families and schools to best support effective and responsive teaching and learning in this new environment?
4. How do we expand our capacity to support the holistic well-being of students, staff and families?
5. How can we best leverage, learn from and integrate existing resources, programs and supports to accelerate positive student outcomes?
The CCEE’s next board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m., Aug. 6, 2020.