Cajon Valley Welcomes Students Back! "There's No Place Like School"
Labor Day marked the return for both the teachers and students of the Cajon Valley Union School District to “labor” in their schools, classrooms, and playgrounds.
Each principal worked with their school communities to develop a plan and schedule for welcoming all students back whose parents chose the option for “in person learning”.
Some parents, a little over 30%, have opted to continue distance learning, at least through December. The Cajon Valley school employees ran free summer learning and enrichment programs at all 27 schools in part to prepare for the reopening of it’s schools with new safety measures specific for the pandemic. This was an important step in Cajon Valley’s preparation for the 2020-21 academic year.
When schools are removed from the ecosystem of a community, the economy isn’t the only thing that suffers. It was obvious to us in March, when Californian’s were asked to shelter in place by the Governor’s Executive Order, that our essential workforce would have an enormous challenge of balancing work and life without the safety and security of its local schools and childcare providers. What’s a family with children to do when both parents are required to physically go to work? In Cajon Valley, the School District opened free distance learning support and childcare for essential workers using stimulus money from the Federal Government (CARES).
The pandemic has exacerbated the many inequities in our public schools ranging from student access to technology to students’ access to food and affordable after school care. Cajon Valley has provided students their own computers for in school and at home learning since 2014. https://www.cajonvalley.net/domain/52 The technical savvy developed by both teachers and students over the years made a transition to Distance Learning relatively seamless.
Distance Learning was an important stopgap for students during the early days of the pandemic when we were still learning about dangers and spread of COVID-19. For districts that were able to make the digital transition, students were able to continue their learning and complete much of their coursework for the 2019-20 school year. But the truth is, distance learning isn’t working for most families. For parents that can work from home, they tell us they feel both unsuccessful as an employee and equally a failure at helping their kids with distance learning. Parenting, teaching, and working do not make for manageable multitasking.
Here’s where the most significant inequity lies. Parent Choice. Some parents have the means to pay for private school, tutors, or learning pods where their children can be taught and nurtured by other caring adults (for additional money). This is happening in many communities where the classrooms at the neighborhood schools are empty. The most practical and ideal spaces for teaching and learning are closed while parents find alternative means for their kids. On the other hand are families that don’t have additional discretionary income or resources to pay for such services. No one would begrudge any parent seeking to provide for their children, but when the “choice” to do so is only for a select few, the equity gap that already existed is now insurmountable.
In Cajon Valley we recognize the importance and and feel so privileged to serve our community as part of the essential workforce. Our Governing Board has taken a safety-first approach to each step in operating our schools which has enabled the learning, laughter, and joy to return. #HeroesWorkHere