The William S. Hart Union High School District was named one of 19 school districts and one county office of education for school attendance review board (SARB) as a “model program in California for their attendance strategies during distance learning.”
According to a statement from the California Department of Education, these 20 SARBs implemented learning continuity and attendance plans that focused on the following four approaches to meeting the needs of students during distance learning:
- Shifting staff roles and responsibilities to meet the needs of distance learning students.
- Supporting virtual attendance of pupils with unique needs.
- Providing for the mental health and well-being of students during distance learning.
- Pupil and family engagement and outreach.
“These 19 school districts and one county office of education created exemplary plans and worked hard to follow through on them to help students stay engaged in their education — all during the unprecedented closure of our schools due to a global pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Many of these same great attendance strategies will also be crucial for student success as even more schools reopen for safe in-person attendance in the near future.”
With the sudden closure of schools last March, the Hart district immediately began the process of identifying and investing in educational technology to help bridge the distance between students and the classroom. Staff professional development was incredibly important for this transition, so the district collaborated with College of the Canyons to develop five customized, self-paced training modules to learn more about best practices for effective online instruction and student engagement.
Equally as important was identifying best practices that would allow staff to provide social and emotional support to students and their families in a digital world.
“As a district, we implemented a three-tier system to identify and re-engage struggling students,” said Erum Velek, director of student services at the Hart District. “Student success indicators such as attendance, participation and work completion were utilized to identify students who needed additional care. Teachers, counselors, social workers, therapists, school psychologists, support staff and administrators have worked tirelessly to support the individual needs of students and their families during this time.”