Classroom at Birney Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District, one of 10 San Diego Unified schools winning 2020 honors.
SDUSD students take their learning online beginning Monday. Here a class receives a lesson, before the outbreak, at Birney Elementary School. Image via

The San Diego Unified School District announced Friday it set a “soft launch” for distance learning, to begin Monday.

The launch will run through April 24.

The district reached a tentative agreement with the San Diego Education Association, the teachers’ union, to clear the way.

The district said it now has the full backing of stakeholders to provide students with the opportunity to finish the school year. They have been out since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This emergency may change the way we operate, but it will not change who we are as educators or who we are as a district,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said.

“We made the decision to close schools to protect students – before the state required us to do so, and from that moment forward, thousands of dedicated professionals in the district have been working nonstop to come up with a plan to connect students with their teachers.”

San Diego Unified is the state’s largest district to announce a plan to return to formal grading and instruction. Those changes will take effect following the soft launch. Districts around the state continue to work to transition to online and graded instruction.

“This agreement reflects our shared commitment to continue serving students under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable,” said SDEA President Kisha Borden.

Starting Monday, computers and/or internet access will be provided to all district students who need them. At that point, teachers will begin communicating with students online.

For those three weeks, students will be given credit for their work, although but teachers won’t grade it. On April 27, graded instruction resumes for traditional schools for the remainder of the academic year.

The date is May 11 for students at year-round schools.

Officials will offer Chromebooks  for check-out to elementary, middle and high school students. Families will receive information this weekend on when and where to pick up the devices.

In addition, families who need internet connectivity within the Cox service area should sign up for the Connect2Compete program. It offers free installation and internet services for the next 60 days.

– City News Service