Dear PUSD Community,
This morning, districts in Tulare County met together to review the current recommendations regarding school campus closures. Following this meeting, out of an abundance of concern for the health and safety of our students and staff, Porterville Unified School District has determined our school sites will not reopen for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and that we will put all of our resources into continuing to enhance our delivery of education through distance learning.
Earlier this week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, sent a letter making a strong recommendation to close school campuses statewide for in-person instruction through the remainder of the school year. Superintendent Thurmond stated: “The need for safety through social distancing warrants that we continue to keep our school campuses closed to students during this pandemic.” He further stated, “…it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year.”
Later in a press briefing with Governor Newsom, Superintendent Thurmond repeated his statements and the Governor also expressed his support that campuses not reopen this year but emphasized that school remains in session.
We continue to follow guidance from the state and this most recent information reinforces what has already been in place in PUSD following our original announcement of school campus closures; while the buildings are closed, learning continues online. Please know that should we receive updated direction from government officials and healthcare experts that conditions have improved to the point where schools can reopen, we will be ready to enthusiastically welcome back our students. We do not make the decision to close campuses for the remainder of the year lightly and are aware of its impact on so many of our families. The district is particularly sensitive to the unique needs of our students in major transitions such as our preschoolers set to enter kindergarten, 8th grade students promoting to high school, and especially our high school seniors. Rest assured that while they may look different or happen at a later time than is customary, we are actively working on how these students can still benefit from the many experiences, ceremonies, and celebrations associated with these pivotal years.
I’m extremely proud of the work that PUSD educators are already doing to stay connected at a distance and the concern they have shown for the social and emotional well-being of all of our students. Just as we will continue to prepare meals for children in need in the community we will continue to provide additional information in the coming days and weeks regarding how items like grades, graduation, transcripts, scholarships, summer school, and continued distance learning instruction will be handled.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we move into a new way of teaching and learning to meet the health and safety impacts of COVID-19. It’s challenging to our educators and our families to learn and communicate in a very new world, but working together, we can and will meet this challenge. Once again, I want to thank our families for being our partners in education and for your ongoing support of our schools.
All the best,
Nate Nelson, Ed.D.