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Hello Lodi Unified School District community. This is Cathy Nichols-Washer, Superintendent of Lodi Unified, with a message for you this afternoon, but that's a lot to say in one breath so, I'm going to start over again. Hi it's Cathy with Lodi Unified. Welcome this afternoon. That's a little better.

First, I want to introduce Mark Crossley, our fantastic sign language interpreter. Thank you for being here and helping us out. We do have an update for you. 

I think that most folks have seen by now our message that went out earlier this morning that we are remaining on our current status with schools being closed and no instruction in class for the remainder of the year. That does not mean that school is finished for the year. It means that we are going to continue to strengthen our distance learning approach and our on-line activities. We made this decision very thoughtfully based on communications that we heard from the Governor, from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and from this morning's message from our County Superintendent, in consultation with County Public Health officials. 

We do unfortunately need to announce that school is closed for the remainder of the year and that's hard to say. It's easy to write, but heartfelt to state. That's seems now that it's a reality and it's starting to impact us on what this means for education, what it means for children, what it means for parents. We are very disappointed that we are at this point. This is no fault of anyone, this circumstance and the situation that we're in. We felt that this was the best course of action to keep our children, our staff and our community members safe.

I am very sorry to have to deliver this message this afternoon and sent you that message this morning. I think that we were holding out for -- at least I was holding out for some hope, but it did look like that. This was the direction we were going to have to go. 

It does look like that then all activities will also be canceled for the rest of the year and we will need to start thinking differently on how we're going to approach a lot of the tasks that we have, and all of the work that is still to come. 

We're committed to do that and take this very seriously and do the best we can to make this situation something that students can feel good about and excel in, and be engaged and enriched as their home from school. 

I do want to say that meal service will continue at this point we are continuing as currently scheduled; we did add additional sites. So, I want to thank our business services, thanks for coming up with new sites, new ways to reach out to our more remote communities. That's also in large part thanks to the transportation department. Thank you so much to our bus drivers and our staff and transportation who are helping us do that. We appreciate the work that all of our staff is doing to deliver meals and get meals to our students. 

I want to let you know that we do have groups actively working, they are discussing and researching ways to make some of these things work for our children in the best way possible to resolve some of the big questions out there, such as: What about grades especially for our high school students? What about credits opportunities to improve in grades? Are colleges going to accept whatever it is that that we do at the end of all of this? 

We know that our California State Universities and the University of California systems are well aware of what's happening in public education and other changes. Private schools and everybody is in the same situation. They are also,  having discussions on how to modify their procedures to match what we're doing. So, we in no way want to penalize any students. 

We know it will be different, but there will still be opportunities, in regards to applying for colleges and being accepted. We are just not quite sure what that exactly will look like yet.

Also,  this involves things like more learning opportunities and students’ celebrations. We want to make sure that we acknowledge our students for what they've accomplished, especially our seniors. We want to make sure that they get recognition and that they are celebrated and that their families have some way to recognize and celebrate that within the school environment and the system that we have in place. This will be whether it's some other ways or whether it's virtual. All of those things are being discussed. We'll see what our folks come up with and what suggestions they have.  

We are also keeping in very close contact with other districts in our county and throughout the state, to see what other folks are doing getting ideas on what they're doing to celebrate students and honor and recognize our families and students for their accomplishments. We are keeping a close watch on what's happening around us and within our state so,  that we make sure that we are able to do things as well for our students. 

I want to throw a shout out to McNair students. If you haven't seen it. they have produced a video out there on all their social media stuff.  The video shows students with their devices in their hand, and what they're learning and what they're working on and what they're doing is just a joyful video. So,   if you can, get a hold of that video. I encourage you to find the McNair student video on their distant learning page. It'll lift your spirits up a little bit. 

I also want to give a shout out to our counselors. They're working hard on ways to deliver services to our students. We know that in this environment, even more so,  some of our children need support with things such as issues with loneliness anxiety, feeling a little cooped up, not having that social interaction in person with friends or the caring adults at school that they used to see on a daily basis. Our counselors are well aware of that. They have a great deal of expertise and are designing ways to be able to reach out and support those who may need them. 

I want to let you know that our course catalog is online and you can virtually flip through the pages of our high school course catalog. Hopefully you'll be able to find that resource available fairly quickly on our website. That's something new for us, and we're happy to be able to watch that. 

I want to give a huge shout out to Mrs. Ellis at Live Oak Elementary School, where she is a kindergarten teacher. Sohe is very quickly rising to the top of our number one hit list for remote learning with her song, “Come count with me.” If you haven't seen that you need to find it. That's Mrs. Ellis, kindergarten teacher, and her video: Come count with me. It's an incredible, incredible video. She does a phenomenal job getting her kids and the adults engaged and hooked, and ready to start learning how to count and I want that sparkly jacket of Mrs. Ellis. So, take a look at that video. 

We have teachers doing some phenomenal things out there. Thank you so much for the work that you're doing, more will come I know as we get used to this environment, little more comfortable get used to taking some risks doing more of these live sessions here. So, be patient. It is going to take a little time. 

We know we know that things will continue to change and what we offer and we're actually looking forward to providing more for you more for our students in terms of this remote learning environment strengthening that because we know now that we are clear on what the end will be that we are going full term here and going to the end of the year. There's not our question or you know, this piece meal kind of thing. That it does. Give us a little more. 

Room two plants and a little more opportunity to do some long term planning and thinking and get some things in place for you. So, I do know that there are still a lot of questions out there, but we will get them if we will get you answers as soon as we possibly can. We know that there are things near and dear to your heart to us as well. And we need to work on those as fast as we can. Just want to let you know also,  that our nonprofit Foundation got kids continues to work on bringing additional support to our students and if you are interested or work for a business, or have a business that may be interested in joining that effort. Please go to the GoKids website. They are working on getting books getting some supplies for students in terms of things that they may need to stay engaged things. They may need to do some of those lessons, with things like crayons, paper, notebooks, pencils, some basic types of supplies that we know are in need and also some reading material whether or not they are in electronic form.  The foundation is looking to support our children and we know that our community will step up and help as best as possibly can.

Again,  I am sorry to have to deliver some daunting news today. But I know that we continue to take a positive approach we continue to try to do what's best for our students and our staff and our families and that will be our goal from now on is to work on making this the best that we possibly can. 

So, please stay tuned. We will do more updates as we get them. Watch for our emails or social media communication, and these live videos. We'll keep you posted as best we can on anything that is new and different. So, thank you very much. Be safe. Be healthy. Have a good afternoon.

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