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District to offer strengthened distance learning program this fall

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San Juan Unified schools along with all public and private schools in counties currently on the state’s monitoring list for COVID-19 spread will begin the school year with distance learning. In Sacramento County, our community continues to see increasing rates of COVID-19 infections, a lack of adequate access to COVID-19 testing, and a surge in hospitalizations that threaten to overwhelm our local healthcare system.

In an update just two weeks ago, the district shared that its intent was to offer families an option for in-person learning when schools resume instruction on Aug. 13. Staff members have spent months working through the planning to be able to do so. However, as we continued to monitor conditions it became clear that in-person learning was becoming more dangerous for our students, our staff members and our community as a whole. On Wednesday of this week (July 15), county health officials advised that distance learning was the best option given current conditions. Today (July 17), the state ordered that all school campuses remain closed and education resume in a distance learning model. 

Students, families, teachers, and staff are eager to return to classrooms. Getting back to classrooms is important for instruction, it’s important for building socialization, it’s important for building social-emotional supports, and it’s important for our families with working parents/guardians. 

Efforts to plan for an option to return to classroom learning have not been lost. Last night, the Board of Education approved the superintendent’s recommendation to implement a sliding range of instructional options for families as local health conditions improve. If local health conditions improve, San Juan Unified schools will add the option for in-person instruction via a hybrid format providing two days of on campus learning and three days of remote learning each week. Then, as conditions improve further, a full return to on campus learning five days a week can be implemented. 


Menus of Learning Models as Health Conditions Change

State and Local Health Guidance Orders


Distance Learning*

9-12 Independent Study

TK-8 Homeschool

Modified In-Person Learning*

Distance Learning

9-12 Independent Study

TK-8 Homeschool

Full In-person Learning*

Distance Learning

9-12 Independent Study

TK-8 Homeschool

Starting 2020-21 HERE

Move to these options as health conditions improve

* Represents the default model for enrollment under each stage.

Fall 2020 Instructional Options

Distance learning - Fall 2020

As schools reopen Aug. 13, parents and students should expect to engage in a strengthened distance learning model compared to what most experienced last spring. Key highlights of fall distance learning include: 

  • Required live daily interaction between student and school staff
  • Attendance taken in each class
  • Standard grading practices
  • A blend of live instruction and independent learning designed to meet a minimum number of minutes for learning each day
  • An added focus on building classroom and school communities as well as peer groups to support socialization and mental well-being
  • The use of Google Classroom as the common home for all instructional materials or links to other platforms to ease parent and student access

San Juan Unified has also made a large investment in curriculum to support distance learning. This summer, 80 of our most experienced teachers were tasked with developing lessons aligned to key learning standards for each grade level and subject matter. This bank of lessons will be available for use by all teachers in the district allowing them to focus their energies building engagement opportunities, providing feedback and supporting the student-teacher relationship. 

Alternative option: TK-8 Homeschool

San Juan Unified has operated a successful homeschool program for several years that provides a parent/guardian with instructional materials and the support of an advisory teacher to help with pacing and other issues. In this model, the parent/guardian takes the lead in daily instruction with students. Homeschool is only available for students in transitional kindergarten through eighth grade. 

Alternative option: 9-12 Independent Study

The district’s independent study program has helped students reach their own learning goals for decades at El Sereno High School. Using this proven model, students in grades 9-12 who have a drive to guide their own learning can be paired with a master teacher who aides in course selection, grades materials and provides feedback. All curriculum and instructional materials are provided. Parents/guardians are encouraged to be partners with their independent learner but do not participate in day-to-day oversight of learning. 


Models Available to Start Fall 2020


Distance Learning

TK-8 Homeschool

9-12 Independent Study

Grades Served


TK through grade 8

Grades 9 through 12

Instructional Materials

Supported by a bank of lessons designed for distance learning, aligned to key learning standards and guided by individual teachers assigned to the classroom who can supplement or choose other appropriate materials

Materials are provided to parents/guardians based on grade level at no cost. Begins with paper-based materials and moves to electronic materials depending on student need. Provides stipend to provide physical education and enrichment opportunities.

Many courses are provided exclusively through an online platform. Supplementary materials may be provided. 

Teacher Support Provided

As with traditional school models, each classroom is assigned a specific teacher to provide instruction. 

Parents/guardians are assigned an advisory teacher who assists with selecting materials, determining pacing and reviewing student progress.

Students are paired with a master teacher to helps determine course selection aligned with the student’s learning goals, provides feedback on progress and monitors participation. 

Classroom Community

Students are engaged in a grouping of students with the same assignments, shared instruction and socialization activities. 

Learning is independent in the home. 

Learning is independent for the student. 

Seat saved for 2020-21 year if school returns to traditional format




Allows switching between models

Students can move from distance learning to TK-8 Homeschool / 9-12 independent study.

Students can move from TK-8 homeschool to distance learning provided room is available. 

Students should consult with their advisor before considering a move and shift should be done at semester breaks

How to select an alternative option

All students will be enrolled in the distance learning model as a default for the opening of the school year. Parents/guardians of TK-8 students who wish to select homeschool or 9-12 students who wish to select independent study can visit to start the process.

Families are encouraged to reach out for additional information before making a decision. For the TK-8 homeschool program call (916) 971-7017 or email For the 9-12 independent study program, call (916) 765-7189 or email 

Families who select TK-8 homeschool or 9-12 independent study will retain their space at their current school for the 2020-21 year and return in the 2021-2022 year. Please note that enrolling in a non-district program including any charter school or private school will disenroll your student from San Juan Unified and their space cannot be guaranteed this year or to return next year. 

Annual Information Update

Each year, families are asked to update emergency contacts and other information. Starting Monday, July 20, families will be able to access the information update process through the Parent Portal. To do so, parents/guardians can login with their parent PIN and password and select the “Re-enrollment" link at the top right of the screen. 

This year, questions about technology needs and other supports have been included. Families should be sure to indicate if their student has access to a computing device and internet access at home as they complete the information update process. Parent responses in this process will be used to reserve devices for check-out from schools when they open.   

Technology and Materials

All materials will be provided to students and families to be successful in distance learning. This includes not only technology devices but textbooks and other materials. Chromebooks or another age/grade appropriate device are available for check-out to TK-12 students who do not have an individual computing device to use at home. 

Each school will hold a technology and materials distribution event as school begins. Be looking for specific information from your school site. 

Families can find more information about internet service providers or how to request help in securing free or low-cost internet access if they do not currently have it. 

Special Education Services

Meeting the needs of all students is important. A separate message will be sent in the coming days to families of students receiving special education services to address common questions and share more information on planning for this fall. 


As the state has determined childcare to be essential, the district will continue to explore options to keep current programs open at their greatly reduced capacities of only 10 children. We are also in the process of examining how and when it could be possible to safely open additional programs and add capacity. 

We want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to meet these rapidly changing and challenging times. We have worked hard to develop options for in-person learning experiences and are eager to be able to provide them as soon as it is safe for our students, staff and community. Starting with distance learning as our default model is not where we planned or hoped to be but we know that with your support it can be an incredible learning experience.

Please be sure to continue visiting for the latest information and updates.