SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz | Addressing the Challenges of New School Year

'These are tough times. Many of us have experienced changes in schedules, family, work and housing circumstances, and more'

PHOTO: South Pasadena Unified School District | SouthPasadenan.com News | SPUSD Superintendent, Dr. Geoff Yantz

Dear SPUSD Community,

We are a little more than one month into the new school year and six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s time to reflect on a school year that is impacting each of us in different ways. State and local officials see signs of hope in the recent drops in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County. Sadly, the pandemic is not the only tragedy we are currently dealing with as many nearby neighborhoods have been negatively affected by the wildfires. Our thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted. Remaining indoors due to poor air quality caused by the wildfires has added to the isolation that many of us are feeling as a result of the pandemic. Further contributing to this sense of uneasiness, the San Gabriel Valley experienced a 4.5 magnitude earthquake Friday night.

These are tough times. Many of us have experienced changes in schedules, family, work and housing circumstances, and more. To top it off, we are now required to use technology—some of it very unfamiliar—for many aspects of our lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends making sure that screen time does not substitute for sleep or active time. The AAP encourages that children spend screen time with others, while certain times of the day, such as meals, outdoor activity, and bedtime are screen free. Please, do all that you can to monitor your child’s habits while at home. Our teachers and administrators are working to transform the curriculum for this new environment making live interactions meaningful and engaging. Each day, progress is being made. We must continue adapting to distance learning as we may be engaged in this type of instruction for the foreseeable future.

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If your child is struggling academically, feels isolated, or anxious please communicate with his/her teachers, counselor, or school administrator right away. While the number of instructional minutes per grade level is determined by the State, our amazing SPUSD team will listen to your concerns and help come up with solutions within the established parameters. We also are fortunate that we have a group of counselors at both the elementary and secondary levels who are able to assist with school challenges as well as social-emotional support. Our new partnership with Care Solace is another terrific resource available 24 hours a day 7 days a week in multiple languages that will connect you and your family members with local mental health professionals. Care Solace professionals may be reached at (888) 515-0595 or through this link. Should these resources not meet your needs, our site administrators are also available to help offer solutions and possibilities for students.

At the end of August, California released a new four-tier system for counties to follow with criteria for reopening. Los Angeles County remains in Tier 1 (purple) indicating widespread transmission of COVID-19. During a recent conference call with superintendents, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) shared that at the end of October the county plans to evaluate the COVID-19 data and study school openings occurring in San Diego and Orange Counties. With the lessons learned from other counties, LADPH may adjust their school reopening guidelines. This does not mean that Los Angeles County will authorize school openings in November. It means they plan to evaluate the environmental conditions to determine if and when schools may reopen in Los Angeles County.

Right now, we need to settle into distance learning to the best of our abilities. At the District level, we are doing everything we can to ensure that we will be ready with all the PPE, support staff, and systems in place for the day we return. Our priority is to keep everyone healthy and safe and to come back in a way that is sustainable. It’s a slow process, but it must be safely and responsibly implemented.

We know these are challenging situations. More than ever, we need you to share your calm, share your strength, and share your laughter with your children. We are here to help, please reach out for support if needed.

Thank you and please continue to stay safe.


Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.