The Covid-19 Pandemic shut schools down for the public health and safety of our communities March 16th. An announcement that schools would not return this school year hit hard that our students would be distance learning for at least the end of this school year. Students engage in learning through flexible learning options while OGEA and OGSD work towards learning more from the California Department of Education and creating a distance learning plan and working conditions for our students and staff.
The heart of our educators shines bright as our thoughts go to our students and their needs beyond academics. Our priority was to see that our student had their basic needs met in the first few weeks of the closures. OGSD staff provided meals, work packets, and educators began making content and connections with students from home. Special Education staff set to work amending IEPs for students to receive services, Ed Techs got to work configuring devices for families to stay connected through the web, and Coaches got to work designing flexible learning options for all.
Our educators are quick studies, and have taken the call to meet our students in the virtual classroom. We understand not all of our students have access and that not all teachers are able to access their students either. This pandemic has provided a much needed perspective on the inequities within our communities. While families work out logistics at home, education becomes more than academics, but social and emotional connection to peers and role models as well. OGSD has moved purposefully in developing a plan to ensure that no student is left behind in content, furthering an achievement gap for our students in this new virtual format.
My heart grows with pride when I hear about the creative ways our educators have reached out to our families. Postcards, videos, class meetings, songs, dances, and story time are all ways our members have reached out to students at this time. While the severity of our pandemic sets in and the number of infections and deaths manifest in Santa Clara County, there is hope and celebration that our students are safe, nourished, and have a way to connect to their education and belonging in their community. With going virtual, there are many privacy and security concerns to consider, and our educators are taking the necessary risks in this unchartered territory to see that student needs are met.
Priority number one should be to the health and safety of our members and our students. Be taking care of yourselves and your families. There are programs and new laws allowing for necessary leave from work to tend to yourself and family if impacted during this pandemic. For a list of resources including self-care, web training, new laws and programs, visit our website at www.ogea.org/safety. The California Teachers Association has been providing webinars for all areas of our profession from mental and physical health, care and security of our students, and ways to engage with content for our classes. Our membership in OGEA has been active in providing feedback and meeting regularly to ensure our needs are met with our school district as we transition into distance learning.
I am proud of our educators, our students, and our community while we navigate the pandemic. OGEA is here for each other and here for our kids. This too shall pass and I look forward to being able to be together as a community again, in our schools, with our students. Let us take the time now to stay safe and support one another and our students, so that we can be at our best when the time is right for us to return.