In one of his many messages to local families in recent days, South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz talks about the challenging times as the coronavirus continues to dominate the news.
He writes about the district facing “unchartered territory,” the need to be “incredibly flexible” and the “teamwork and effort” of the faculty and staff at each the city’s five campuses putting forth the dedicated effort in keeping the district focused on its goal – helping students reach their full potential despite the circumstances.
“We strive to be nimble and patient, and to follow guidelines from the local public health departments and the California Department of Education,” wrote Yantz in one of his correspondence. “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.”
No doubt, these are unprecedented times. His series of messages have varied, touching on the Board of Education approving a resolution giving Yantz the power to take appropriate action in response to coronavirus, different restart dates for students to return to the classroom as the crisis has worsened, to case figures showing that no individual within the district has tested positive for COVID-19.
As he continues to send out messages, keeping SPUSD families informed, Yantz was asked what more would he’d like to tell them during these challenging times.
“Hang in there!” urged the superintendent. “We are all venturing down new paths and we are all learning.”
A different way of life has kicked in as the use of various technologies to facilitate student communication has kicked in to a higher degree. “Everyone at SPUSD is committed to developing a new independent study distance learning program for all students,” explained Yantz. “This type of coordination takes time to ensure that we take into account the state and federal laws designed to protect the most vulnerable among us. April 6, the first day of our distance learning program, will be a very exciting day as we embark on a new journey together.”
While life hasn’t been the same since the COVID-19 outbreak, Yantz continues to appreciate the students, teachers, staff and his cabinet members during a difficult time in the South Pasadena Unified School District.
“Every morning, I begin my day talking with superintendents throughout Los Angeles county about the challenges we are all facing, and every day after that call, I feel thankful for the SPUSD community,” said Yantz. “Everyone is pulling together in a very cohesive way. Our teachers are being trained to deliver new methods of instruction. As essential workers, our staff continue to step up and complete assignments. Administrators are providing support and guidance to everyone. The days ahead will continue to be tough, but our team is connected and smart, and always keeps student well-being at the forefront of our decision making.”
What keeps him going through so much uncertainty, not only globally but locally? “Our district’s commitment to students and families keeps me going,” he replied. “Just like you, we all have families to support and care for during this emergency. While none of us could envision something like the coronavirus pandemic affecting us this year, we are a team of people who are problem solvers. Every day brings something new, and all of us have adjusted our daily work schedules and our priorities. I am proud of the efforts by all our employees as we continue to connect with our families and students.”