First and foremost, as the number of cases of the disease in Los Angeles County increase, South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz is determined to provide regular updates in face of coronavirus COVID-19 concerns.
“We are facing unchartered territory, but we are not alone, as districts all around us are making changes and creating a new normal,” he said in a recent message to parents with children in the district. “We appreciate our community’s support as we creatively problem-solve ways to further educate all of our students should the outbreak restrictions continue for an extended period of time.”
His focus is on the health and welfare of others during this difficult time. “The safety of our entire community is, and always will be, our most important priority,” he added. “Additionally, thank you for your patience, support, and positivity over the past few weeks. Our district and schools are amazing places to teach, learn, work, and thrive.”
In challenging times, noted the superintendent, these qualities become even more evident.
“The South Pasadena Unified team of educators are all committed to serving our students’ learning throughout this unique time,” he wrote. “We ask that you wait to send your teachers questions about the ISDLP until we share additional details about how the plan will be implemented. Once again, we want teachers fully focused on developing these plans over the next several days.”
Yantz said the district would continue to follow guidelines from the local public health departments and the California Department of Education.
In the following Q & A, the superintendent talks about what he and others have been faced with in recent weeks as the school district does its part in slowing down the disease that has unsettled the lives of millions worldwide.
Q: This has to be one of the most challenging times in your career, facing a virus we’re learning something new about almost daily. As you oversee the South Pasadena Unified School District, can you put me into your shoes and tell me what life has been like for you and the district since the pandemic began?
A: “My daily life was full of non-stop activities and meetings before the coronavirus outbreak. I still have a packed schedule, but now, the decisions that need to be made are very unpredictable and time-sensitive. The biggest difference is now SPUSD needs to be quick and flexible in creating and implementing plans and programs that greatly affect our community.”
Q: What is your immediate concern right now as it relates to the school district?
A: “Our main concern is always the safety of all our students and staff. SPUSD has strong plans in place including deep cleaning of all schools during the closure to combat the spread of coronavirus.
In order to support our families who are part of the Federal free and reduced lunch program for students in need, the SPUSD Food & Nutrition Services program will be providing breakfast and lunch free of charge beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27.
The SPUSD leadership team continues to meet daily – albeit virtually – to review plans and quickly address concerns that are being raised.”
Q: As students/families remain home during this difficult time, what is your message to them?
“We are a community that cares deeply for our students. We realize this is a difficult and confusing time, and school closures throughout California are having an impact on everyone, but we know that we will make it through these challenging situations. Students are resilient, and we will continue to support them to the best of our ability. Administrators, teachers, and staff are working hard to implement the best plans for our students.
With everything changing so quickly, we also want to encourage everyone to stay up-to-date by reading all SPUSD correspondence. If you miss an email, please check the website at spusd.net where all the updates are posted.”
Q: Are online classes in place at all grade levels? Talk a little bit about how online education works in the South Pasadena Unified School District.
A: “SPUSD’s goal is to continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through a new Independent Study Distance Learning Program for all students.
Between March 16 and March 27, teachers and staff are working on digital classroom development and curriculum planning for this new program, and it is slated to begin on April 6, but timing and implementation is subject to change.
The new Independent Study Distance Learning Program will require access to technology and internet access. SPUSD staff is working on plans for deployment for students in need.
More information will be provided to students and families before April 6 and will include information about Special Education supports and services.”
Q: What further would you like to say to SPUSD families at this time?
“We appreciate your patience, flexibility and understanding. Please keep in mind that we need to continue to come together as a community to ensure our students and families, and each other, are safe and cared for in these challenging times.”