Cecilia Romero, Live Oak, California

March 23, 2020 |
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We are asking rural communities to share how COVID-19 is impacting them and how teachers and teacher-leaders are adapting in the face of nationwide school closures. Read below for an outstanding story about the response of the Live Oak Unified School District from Cecilia Romero of Live Oak, California. You can share yours here: https://buff.ly/3d7hWUe

"Generally speaking, the impacts of COVID-19 were those that most individuals did not foresee. Fortunately, the Live Oak community was and still is closely monitoring this epidemic and altering decisions in a span of days and even hours. Two weeks ago LOUSD warranted custodians to wipe down objects that were frequently touched by students in every classroom, building, and office. Hand sanitizers were frequently refilled and students/faculty were encouraged to wash their hands every hour if possible. Administration purchased Clorox wipes by the bulk and ordered door stoppers to minimize the number of students who touched door handles. As this commotion unfolded teachers and students remained hopeful.

However, during this past weekend the events exceeded our expectations. Friday afternoon faculty received an email indicating that meetings were being held with admin in order to discuss future steps, but even so, we were told that classes would resume Monday, March 16th. Saturday morning emails were sent out informing faculty of the Governor's executive order allowing Districts to close and file for a waiver. They informed us of the free breakfast and lunch that students would have access to and our need to provide online learning or independent study for future closers.

Sunday, 10:47 AM an impromptu staff meeting was called for Monday morning, March 16, 7:30 am. Sunday, 3:46 PM our principal shared general information regarding COVID-19, as well as local and school information. In bold the statements read: "If or when the county Public Health office shuts us down, we will be shut down for a minimum of 28 days," and "Our district wants us to have six weeks' worth of work ready for our students ASAP."

Although the statements caused a wave of panic to overcome me, I immediately began working on lesson plans - daily schedules, with daily objectives for my students to follow. That night, like most of my colleagues, I worked tirelessly. That same night, 11:13 PM we received an email from our superintendent informing us of our school closure that would take into effect Tuesday, March 17th.

Despite the chaos the hopeful words from our principal during our staff meeting where those that encouraged teachers to put forth maximum effort and create rigorous and rich lessons. Since 90% of our students have access to internet, my colleagues and I made curriculum accessible via Google Classroom. Teachers were recording lectures and posting them on YouTube others on Google Classroom. Copy machines were furiously printing packets for students who did not have access. Chromebooks were being lent out to students who needed computer access. Although there was chaos in the air, my colleagues and I helped one another. We shared tips and tricks for those who were not Google Classroom savvy. We shared Google Chrome extensions that allowed us to screen record. We did this all the while thinking about how we could make accommodations and modifications for our SPED students.

As a new teacher, the collaboration and execution my colleagues put forth was one that made me proud. I am honored and thankful to be a part of a community where teachers rally together, where resources are pulled to help our students, and where our administration's leadership was unfathomable. Like most teachers, I am unsure what the future in education will look like, but one thing is for sure, for LOUSD the learning never stops."

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