Pasadena Unified School District leaders on Thursday will decide whether to approve the district’s “simultaneous education model,” providing for both in-person and remote instruction while keeping classes and their teachers together once PUSD schools are cleared to welcome back students.
The district had previously sent out a survey to parents asking them whether they wished to have their children attend school in-person or continue with online-only learning, with an anticipated earliest return date of Jan. 11. Parents were initially asked to make a decision no later than Nov. 22.
But as a new surge of COVID-19 sweeps across the region and the nation, the district has extended the deadline to Dec. 6, officials said Tuesday.
In the meantime, the PUSD Board of Education is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the simultaneous education model that’s been in the works in recent months.
Under the model, using updated tech equipment to better connect with students remotely, “teachers will remain with their current students and courses, and instruct students who attend both in-person and online simultaneously,” according to a staff report on the item authored by PUSD Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth Blanco.
“To create opportunities for optimal engagement of both student groups, teachers will be provided equipment that maximizes their audio-visual capacity,” Blanco wrote.
Staff has recommended that the Board of Education approve the plan.
“Simultaneous learning will allow for students and teachers to maintain their current class communities, and support the relational and academic progress connections that are already established,” the report states.
“This meets our priorities for continuity of learning alongside social-emotional wellbeing,” the report continued. “Additionally, it allows PUSD to continue offering specialized programs and courses that would otherwise only be offered in one environment — online or in-person.”
Roughly 50 district teachers were already trying out new equipment better suited to teaching both in-person and online at the same time, providing daily feedback to improve operations, officials said.
Pasadena High School Parent Teacher Student Association Vice President Christopher Bodaken said it was difficult to make informed decisions with the environment changing so rapidly.
“Like a lot of things these days in the pandemic, we’re all learning about this as we go,” he said.
“It changes so rapidly that to have something in place that has that kind of flexibility, it seems like it’s about the best, or maybe even the only system that could try to cover all those bases,” Bodaken said. “Things seem to change so consistently that what’s a smart decision that you might make Nov. 22 may look like a crazy decision on Jan. 11.”
Bodaken said he has deep faith in Superintendent Brian McDonald and PHS Principal Robert Hernandez.
Increasing interaction between classmates and instructors is an important goal, Bodaken said. “…trying to create as close to what used to be a normal learning environment as the district can.”
“We all want our kids to have as much of a normal situation as possible, yet we have to respect the science,” he added.
More information on the PUSD’s proposed simultaneous equation model is available online at pusd.us/reopening.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. and can be viewed on Charter Cable Channel 95 or online at pusd.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=15.
The meeting agenda is posted at pusd.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=15&event_id=426.