Senate Bill 98 (SB98) transitioned students to “distance learning” as a way to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. SB98 was introduced by the California legislature and Governor Newsom when much was unknown about the virus, how it was spread, and the safety measures that would be most effective at reducing transmission in schools.
While the intention of SB98 may have been to create a framework for schools to navigate the pandemic, San Diego Unified has abused the flexibility it provided, creating significantly more harm than good for our students.
Funding Without Follow-Through: SB98 granted San Diego Unified over $100 million additional to manage the COVID-19 crisis without:
- Requiring a timeline to achieve in-person education
- Establishing educational equity metrics
- Providing minimum standards for mental health supports
- Setting parameters for spending the additional funds
- Obligating districts to provide support for working parents
- Expecting a regular communication plan to parents
Stripped Families of Options: SB98 tied funding to the enrollment numbers from February 2020 to avoid penalizing districts from attendance swings due to quarantined students and public health orders. The result is that Public Charter Schools cannot take more students because they will not be funded, at a time when more parents than ever are applying because:
- Homeschool charters operate independent study programs which allow parents schedule flexibility if they work
- Many homeschool charters provide a stipend for enrichment activities like tutoring, sports and art.
- Students with special needs are able to transfer their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to public charters
- Many charter schools within SDUSD boundaries are providing on-site instruction.
While the vaccine is yet to be widely distributed, there is a sigh of relief understanding that the mortality rate is miniscule for healthy children between 0 and 19 years of age. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the survival rate among this age group is 99.997%. Now, there is a new bill (AB10) in development to correct SB98’s shortcomings and lack of accountability. This bill would push San Diego Schools to return to in-person instruction when the County says it’s okay, which is expected March 2021.
CALL TO ACTION!
While AB10 is in the process of being developed, now is the time for parents and families to share their input.
What to include in email / letter:
Dear Assemblymember/Senator _______X________ I am writing to you on behalf of my children (ages and grades) who are currently enrolled at San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). Please include your family’s personal experience (examples: quality of education, how student is coping, if they are falling behind, struggling emotionally, mentally, socially, the impact on your family, financial impacts from cutting back hours to support distance learning, etc.) We implore you to support AB10 and any other legislative action to ensure that our children return to campus as soon as possible. It’s also important that funding follow the student so families have alternatives that work for their students in these trying times. While Districts on all sides, and Charters within SDUSD’s boundaries, opened for hybrid instruction, SDUSD failed to present a plan to parents until almost November. That plan was voluntary for educators and to date only about 2000 students receive 45-minute weekly appointments. SDUSD is failing to meet our children’s educational needs and has ignored our pleas for communication, transparency and a plan of action for reopening school campuses.
Tony Atkins, Senator 619-645-3133
Ben Hueso, Senator 619-409-7690
Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember 619-338-8090
Brian Maienschein, Assemblymember 858-675-0077
Chris Ward, Assemblymember 619-645-3090
Shirley Weber, Assemblymember 619-531-7913