July 15 Press Release
Cajon Valley Schools Are Open: Students Return For Free Summer Learning Programs
EL CAJON, Calif., July 15, 2020
On Monday July 13th students, teachers, and staff in the Cajon Valley Union School District returned to their classrooms for in person teaching and learning for the first time since schools were ordered to close by public health orders. Every Elementary and Middle School is open in Cajon Valley. School principals reported that everyone, especially the students, were ecstatic to be back with their teachers and friends. It was also a chance to begin practicing the new safety protocols and guidelines for opening schools released by San Diego and California public health officials. Mike Kuhfal, principal at Flying Hills K-8 School of the Arts said, “It’s such a blessing both to have our kids back on campus and also to start small and learn how to best implement the new safety guidelines ahead of all students coming back in August.”
Utilizing Federal Stimulus money from the CARES Act allocated for safety supplies, distance learning tools, and learning loss recovery; all Cajon Valley School Principals and their site teams prepared a free summer program for interested families to receive both summer learning and enrichment for their students. While finalizing the district reopening plan early last month, the Cajon Valley management team along with labor union leaders discussed the practicality of starting small with the most conservative safety measures in place during Summer. Justin Goodrich, ACSA Region 18 Principal of the Year, commented, “By simulating what school is going to look like in the fall our teachers are fine tuning our safety protocols and instructional plans. Cajon Valley Middle School is so excited to have our staff and students back on campus. Everyone is adhering to the social distance guidelines and showing a great deal of appreciation and respect for one another.”
When all San Diego School Districts were forced to shutdown on March 13th, Cajon Valley staff and trustees immediately began weekly stakeholder meetings via Zoom to stay connected and have a pulse on the wellbeing of its various stakeholder groups. These weekly stakeholder meetings with all employee groups and parents, which included virtual town hall meetings with every school community, led to the formation of its school reopening plan released the first week of June. Those plans include four options: home school (parent as the primary teacher), complete distance learning with no physical school (virtual teaching and learning), a hybrid model that combines some physical school with some distance learning and five-day-a-week regular school, space permitting.
In 2015, The Cajon Valley Union School District was inducted by Digital Promise into The League of Innovative Schools, a bipartisan nonprofit, authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through Section 802 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush. This distinction ranks Cajon Valley in the top 73 US school districts for innovation and digital learning. Students in Cajon Valley have had their own district issued personal computer for their school and homework equipped with a district curated suite of learning software since 2014. The digital savvy of both the students and teachers made Cajon Valley’s transition to Digital Distance Learning seamless.
When Governor Newsom ordered the entire state of California to shelter at home, he also asked California Public Schools to provide free childcare for essential workers. Cajon Valley was the only school district that answered this call. For the last four months, Cajon Valley’s Extended Day Program has provided free Distance Learning support and care for parents working in essential jobs according to the State of California. In four months of operation serving over 130 families, Cajon Valley hasn’t had any staff or students test positive for COVID19.
Cajon Valley is proving that with strict adherence to public health guidelines, appreciation and respect for one another’s safety, and careful planning and execution, that schools can both reopen safely and provide the laughter and learning that our children and teachers are accustomed to.