For Families » Distance Education Plan 2020

Distance Education Plan 2020

TUSD Distance Education Plan 

for Students and Families 

April, 2020

Dear TUSD Students and Families, 

During this period of school closures, Trinidad Union School District is committed to supporting students socially, emotionally, and academically. TUSD staff strives to reduce the negative impact of school closures on our students’ educational progress and to provide support to families during this difficult time. These efforts cannot possibly replicate the rich variety of experiences that we offer on campus, and many aspects of the TUSD experience will be lost during these closures. However, TUSD is committed to providing, to the best of our ability, educational programs to advance the educational and personal well-being of our students during school closures. 

Distance Education in a time of global health uncertainty will be impacted by a variety of factors, including: 

  • Families’ access to technology devices and the internet 
  • Caregivers’ ongoing ability to provide guidance, supervision, and support to students, and especially to young students 
  • That prolonged use of technology by young students (age 4-8) is developmentally inappropriate, and can be challenging for all people, including students and staff 
  • The health of students, families, teachers and support staff, given some health experts state that 60% of California residents are expected to become ill from COVID-19 in the coming months 
  • Restrictions on in-person support for students due to Shelter-in-Place orders from state and local health officials, and social distancing and self-quarantine expectations during this pandemic 
  • Limitations in access to physical and mental health resources, given the developing shortage of access to the healthcare system 

This plan, based on feedback from dozens of educators and based on information from our teachers, is meant to describe the foundational level of support that students and families will experience in the coming period of time. We will depend on feedback from teachers, students, instructional assistants, and parents to get better at providing Distance Education opportunities to students. 

TUSD is grateful to our Board of Trustees, our professional educators and supportive staff, and the Trinidad community for its ongoing collaboration.  Together we are experiencing exceptionally difficult circumstances, and our shared goal of caring for our young people will require cooperation, goodwill, and patience. 

Katie Cavanagh 


Our Roles

Student Roles

  • Dedicate appropriate time to learning, using the time on task recommendations or as guided by your teacher(s).
  • Check the online platforms for information on classes, assignments, resources daily.
  • For older students, ensure that you know your usernames and passwords for instructional resources that are accessible via the district portal and/or website.
  • Identify a comfortable and quiet space to learn and study.
  • Engage in online learning activities being offered by your teachers and/or provided through online resources.
  • Submit all assignments by due dates established by your teacher(s).

Teacher Roles

  • Develop high quality Distance Education lessons/assignments for students that address course standards/benchmarks while balancing online learning, volume of work assigned, and student/teacher interaction.
  • Use strategies for English Language Learners (ELL) and provide appropriate accommodations for Students with Disabilities (SWD) and students with Section 504 plans, to the extent practical.
  • Observe established office hours and meeting times during the regularly scheduled work day that include, but are not limited to, communicating with and providing feedback to students, facilitating synchronous/asynchronous lessons, or answering student questions.
  • Provide instructional resources and materials through digital learning means such as Google Classroom, Jupiter Ed, ClassDojo or other tools of your choice.
  • Communicate regularly with parents and families regarding expectations and student progress; if students are not engaged in the lessons and assignments, teachers should contact parents and/or the school counselor.
  • Participate in professional development and virtual learning sessions intended to support Distance Education, as applicable.
  • Ensure that you are monitoring District and school communications for up-to-date information regarding school closures, instructional continuation plans, and Distance Education resources.

Family Roles

  • Ensure that a mobile device and internet access are available at home; contact the district at 707-677-3631 if there is a need for internet access for at-home use.
  • Monitor District communications for up-to-date information regarding school closures, instructional continuation plans, and Distance Education resources. Visit the TUSD website, for resources and up-to-date information on Distance Education.
  • Ensure that your children know their usernames and passwords for instructional resources and encourage their participation in Distance Education offerings.
  • Maintain communication with your children’s teachers and school counselor(s).
  • Engage your children in conversations regarding assignments.
  • Monitor time spent engaging in online and offline learning.
  • Support your children’s emotional balance by providing time for physical activity and play.

Technology and Internet Access for Students 

TUSD revised the districts Technology Policy Handbook in March, 2020 The following guidelines apply specifically to students’ engagement in Distance Education.

Be Safe, Respectful and Responsible


Entering Online Class

Teacher-Led Whole Group Instruction

One-on-One Instruction

Small-Group Activities (Breakout Rooms

Be Safe

- Choose a

distraction free 

Space, preferably not a bedroom

- Use equipment as


-Remember that

your teacher is also

new to teaching in

this manner

-Wear school appropriate clothing

- Please limit side

conversations with

others who may be

near your work


- Use kind words

and faces

- Please limit side


with others who

may be near your

work space

- Use kind words

and faces

- Think about what

you want to share

before sharing it

- Use kind words

and faces

Be Respectful

- Video on at all


- Audio off until


- Use chat with

classmates when

teacher allows

-School appropriate clothing

- Video on at all


- Mute yourself until your turn

- Answer questions

in chat box

- Answer polls


-Ask in chat if you

need help

- Raise your hand

- Video on at all


- Mute yourself until your turn

- Listen


- Answer

questions out

loud on cue

- Video on at all


- Mute yourself until your turn

- One speaker at a

time: wait or use

chat to respond

when others are


- Respect others’

cultures, opinions,

and viewpoints

Be Responsible

- Be on time and

ready to learn

- Start class

charged or plugged


- Have materials


- Ask questions

(voice or chat) when

you have them

- Be present

– Avoid multitasking

- Ask questions

out loud when

you have them

- Try your best

- Be present

– Avoid


- Encourage each

other to stay on


- Complete the

work together

- Use “raise hand”

button if you have


-Be present

- Avoid multitasking

  1. This is a learning space for students, not for parents, Parents should email directly 

with administration or teachers with specific concerns or questions 

  1. Students and Staff are to set up computers for virtual conferences/meeting in a 

community home space, preferably not a bedroom 

  1. Appropriate dress and language are expected, this is still a school space and school 

expectations apply 

  1. Exemplary Digital citizenship is expected 
  2. Appropriate language, behavior, and social interaction is expected at all times 

between and among students and staff

The TUSD Instructional Technology (IT) team has established wireless internet accessible to all trinidad school students accessible in the school parking lot or at the front of the school.  The password is Googlerocks. The IT team also scheduled the following technology distribution dates, with priority for low-income students (those who qualify for free/reduced price lunch). TUSD is working to resolve challenges in reaching families and in assuring internet availability. Specific information was gathered through a survey sent home to families the week of March 9th which provided information regarding food insecurity, technology access, and internet access. On March 18 the District provided families with information about free internet services for eligible families. If families have yet to receive a device and need one to have access to enrichment opportunities, please contact the office at (707)677- 3631. 


3/23 and by appointment

4-8th Grades

3/19, 3/23 and by appointment 

Elements of TUSD’s Distance Education Program 

During the time that schools are closed, the District will make every effort to ensure that our students’ education continues. While Distance Education poses several challenges to both teachers and students, the District’s Distance Education Plan (DLP) allows teachers the continued flexibility in delivering content and communicating with students in the manner that is the most familiar and effective to ensure continuity of service. 

Distance education, by a definition provided by The Higher Learning Commission, can use one or more of the technologies listed below to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor. Distance education can include synchronously (students/instructors participating at the same time) or asynchronously (students/instructors have free access to materials and participate with independent schedules) instruction. Distance Education technologies may include:  the Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVDs and CD-ROMs, if used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed above. The American Psychological Association (2010) defines Distance Education as a formal education process wherein the majority of a student’s instruction occurs independent of the same location of their instructor. 

Below are the two distance education options currently implemented at Trinidad Union School.  As they have done in their classrooms, teachers have the choice and flexibility to deliver content to students through the district-provided digital resources (with teacher direction to focus on specific skills instruction) or through teacher-identified and vetted resources, or through a combination of both. This practice will continue during the current school closures. Teachers are encouraged to continue using those resources with which they have become familiar and adapt them to the current Distance Education model. For those teachers who may need guidance on what online resources they can use to address their specific subject area or program the district is engaged in providing ongoing professional development and resources.

TEACHER-DIRECTED ONLINE INSTRUCTIONAL MODEL: (Combines teacher-directed instruction with self-paced online content) 

  • Teacher-provided resources/instructions through digital tools 
  • Instruction recorded or live sessions through digital platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, Google Classroom, Class Dojo, or other teacher-selected tool 
  • Student communication through phone or other digital platforms selected by teacher
  • Use of teacher-selected materials (e.g., digital links, print materials, district-adopted textbooks) 
  • Projects and assignments shared through digital platforms such as Google Meet, Google classroom, email, Jupiter Ed, or other digital platforms selected by teacher

TEACHER-DIRECTED PRINT INSTRUCTIONAL MODEL: (Combines teacher-directed instruction with self-paced print content) 

  • Use of teacher-selected materials (e.g., print, district-adopted textbooks, supplies and materials) for pick up weekly
  • Instruction in print, recorded, via phone, or live sessions through digital platforms for access by family
  • Student communication through phone or other digital platforms selected by teacher and family
  • Thoughtfully designed schedule printed and online for easy tracking
  • Family retains print materials to be turned in to the school as requested (no more than weekly)

Determination of the Distance Education model will be on an individual student basis as directed by the teacher and determined by the guardian.

Weekly Distance Education Activities 

Teachers will develop weekly grade-level educational activities for Pre-K and elementary students, with course-specific content for students in Grades 6-8. Teachers review standards and objectives for the week, create a learning plan for the week that can be followed by families and students, with resources including online and/or print reading, digital and/or print worksheets, guidance about the use of online applications, and other at-home activities. 

Throughout this period of school closure, we recognize that students will have different abilities to engage in online learning, and that for younger students especially (Ages 3-8), exposure to screen time should be limited and broken up by interactions with adults and siblings, games, independent activity, and free time. 

At the TK and elementary level, weekly Distance Education Activities may include: 

  • Key learning objectives that are accessible to students and caregivers 
  • Recommendations about a weekly schedule for Distance Education 
  • Suggestions to students and parents about online learning activities available at 
  • Lessons about reading, to be practiced with books in your home, that have been provided through the school, or that are accessible online 
  • Specific lessons in Math, Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Social Emotional Learning and Science - with reading and writing materials 
  • Short, screencast videos from teachers with instructions, objectives, and teaching points 
  • Projects that can be completed, photographed and sent back to your teacher 
  • Activities that may be possible at home, like simple experiments using common household products, cooking and measuring, observing springtime growth in your neighborhood, and moderate physical exercise 
  • Ideas for arts and music supplements 

In Grades 6-8, weekly activities may include: 

  • Lessons for each of four subject areas: Math, English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, & Science 
  • Recommended weekly schedule for Distance Education 
  • Suggestions to students and parents about online learning activities available at  or through their google classroom
  • Specific lessons in Math, Language Arts, History/Social Studies, and Science - with reading and writing materials 
  • Short, screencast videos from teachers with instructions, objectives, and teaching points 
  • Projects that can be completed, photographed and sent back to your teacher 
  • Activities that may be possible at home, like simple experiments using common household products, cooking and measuring, observing springtime growth in your neighborhood, and moderate physical exercise 
  • Ideas for arts and music supplements 
  • Additional activities for courses like World Languages, Social Emotional Learning, Physical Education, and the Arts 
  • Projects to be completed individually or with other students via phone, Zoom, or Hangout 

Weekly Distance Education Activities will consist of approximately

TK/K 4-6 hours per week for students to include: 

Virtual or phone meeting with each student individually once per week for 30 min 

virtual story time 3 times per week) 

Individual projects/assignments

1st 4-6 hours per week for students to include: 

2 virtual or phone story times per week, 

One virtual or phone whole class meeting 

2 Virtual or phone small group (2-4 students) meetings 

Individual projects/assignments

2nd 4-6 hours per week for students to include: 

2 whole class meetings per week 

2 small group  meetings per student per week 

Weekly Office Hours

Individual projects/assignments

3rd-4th Grades  8 hours per week for students to include: 

4 whole class meetings per week 

1 individual or small group (2-4 student) meetings per week per student 

Individual or group projects/assignments

5th Grade 8 hours per week for students to include: 

4 whole class meetings per week

Weekly office hours twice per week 

Individual or group projects/assignments

6th Grade 12 hours per week to include: 

4 whole class meetings per week

Weekly office hours twice per week

Individual or group projects/assignments

7th – 8th Grades 12 hours per week to include: 

8 whole class meetings per week

Weekly office hours once per week per instructor 

Individual or group projects/assignments

Particularly in the initial stages of the implementation of this plan, teachers are asked to be sensitive that students’ tolerance for online learning may vary, as will each student’s home setting. The district recommends that teachers approach this new style of work gradually, taking into account the needs of students as we all learn more about Distance Education. 

Teachers will be expected to monitor students’ participation in Distance Education and will report this participation to district administration once per week. Reporting on students’ engagement in home learning will permit the district to try to resolve, if possible, any issues that prevent students from participating in Distance Education.  Students are encouraged to complete all projects during the week that they are assigned.

Supplemental Distance Education Supports 

English Language Development 

Teachers with ELD students will integrate instruction into the generalized education Distance Education program, or by recommending online resources to students to support their ongoing growth in English. Teachers will be responsible for maintaining ongoing contact with their EL students and will maintain an electronic log of their interactions with students. 

Special Education 

Similarly, Special Education teachers will attempt to provide supplemental support to students on their caseloads, in keeping with the goals described in each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). 

On March 23, 2020, the US Office of Special Education Program shared, “Where technology itself imposes a barrier to access or where educational materials simply are not available in an accessible format, educators may still meet their legal obligations by providing children with disabilities equally effective alternate access to the curriculum or services provided to other students. Consider practices such as distance instruction, teletherapy and tele-intervention, meetings held on digital platforms, online options for data tracking, and documentation. In addition, there are low-tech strategies that can provide for an exchange of curriculum-based resources, instructional packets, projects, and written assignments.” 

Because IEPs goals and services are by nature individualized and take into account the services that are available at the time of the plan’s writing, some elements of a student’s IEP may be impossible to achieve in the current public health crisis. To the extent possible, the Special Education teacher and case manager should attempt to modify IEP documents, with parent consent, to reflect the current conditions and their impact on the availability of services. 

The Role of Special Education Teachers 

The Special Education teacher will provide supplemental support to students on their caseloads. This may consist of the following: 

  • Additional support through Google Classroom; accommodations and modifications to materials and curriculum as appropriate
  • Electronic chats with individual students or small groups through Google Hangout, Meet, Zoom, or other teacher selected digital platform or phone call 
  • Emails or phone calls to parents or guardians with ideas for supporting student learning 
  • Live online instruction for individuals and small groups through Zoom or Google Meet 
  • Provide Physical materials to support student learning 
  • Other instructional strategies determined to be supportive of student learning in these circumstances 

Case Managers will strive to track students’ engagement in home learning activities in coordination with their general education teacher, similar to tracking services during the school year. Case managers and special education teachers have an important role to play in supporting the coordination of contracts for related services as well. The TUSD Special Education Department will continue to review and follow guidance from state and Federal officials about Special Education in a Distance Education setting and communicate with families as to this guidance. 

Mental Health Counseling The current period of the COVID-19, shelter-in-place orders, and mass school closures will create stress for many students. Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS) will continue as defined in the IEP via teletherapy or telephone. School counseling services will continue for those students previously receiving school counseling and new referrals will be reviewed and monitored by school counseling staff.  Mental Health and Social Emotional resources will be available to students through the school counselor google classroom. Social Emotional and Mental Health activities will be shared with classroom teachers for age appropriate supplemental activities.

Instructional Aides General and Special Education Instructional Aides may engage in weekly or daily support of students’ academic progress as determined appropriate and directed by General and Special education teachers, speech and language pathologist, administration, and in coordination with families. 

Reading Intervention In some cases, reading intervention teachers may be able to provide additional supplemental instruction through an online delivery model that is differentiated for learners and level and provide additional guidance on level-appropriate resources that are available online. 

Attendance and Monitoring Student Participation 

As of this writing, the state of California has not specified that districts must take attendance. During the period of school closure, TUSD will track student participation in learning activities as a matter of equity to focus resources to help students experiencing limited access to Distance Education. This tracking will take place in the following way: 

Teachers will use google meet/zoom meetings, google classroom engagement, participation in office hours, and engagement in Distance Education assignments, through Google Classroom, Jupiter Ed or district documentation as appropriate to the grade level. 

The student participation monitoring log allows teachers to enter four pieces of information each week:

  1. Number of online sessions attended by students
  2.  Whether students are participating in Distance Education 
  3. If a contact should be made to the student’s home 
  4.  Optional comments 

Ongoing Feedback from Educators 

Teachers will engage in weekly meetings with District administration to monitor and update the Distance Education program as appropriate to meet student needs, instructor needs, and legal requirements. 

Grading, Assignments, and Graduation 

During the period of school closures, equity issues already present in society will be exacerbated by a number of factors, including access to Chromebooks, the internet, family members’ work hours, access to health care and stable income, and housing insecurity. For this reason, the district has determined that traditional grading practices shall be suspended.  The California Department of Education has provided guidelines to schools related to grading on essential state standards during the COVID-19 School Closures (  

In response to that guidance TUSD has developed the following temporary grading plan.  This plan will be updated for the 2020/2021 school year should closures extend during that time.  This plan is implemented to facilitate feedback to students and families. This feedback will encompass all elements of the Distance Education program to include academics, mental health, social/emotional well being, basic needs and services, among others.

  • For the Period between August 26, 2019-March 16, 2020 Traditional grading progress will be reported
  • For the period after March 16, 2020:
    • Students will be given Credit for participation in the elements of Distance Education that they are able to participate in
    • Students will be given ongoing feedback on assignments that they complete to facilitate understanding and reflection for students
    • Beginning May 1, 2020 teachers will employ a variety of formative assessment practices to understand  students’ progress toward essential standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics
    • The final 2019/2020 Report Card will be mailed home in June 2020.  Teachers will report on the following: 
      • Participation in Distance Education
      • Progress toward standards made before the March 16, 2020 Covid-19 School Closure
      • Progress toward essential standards as assessed by classroom teachers during the Covid-19 School Closure
      • Strengths-based feedback to families on student progress 
  • Guardian reported student illness will excuse students from participation.
  • 8th grade graduation status will be based on student progress before March 16, 2020.
  • TUSD will not report traditional grades for any content area for the third trimester of 2019/2020 school year

Independent Study 

The California Department of Education describes Independent Study as “an alternative to classroom instruction consistent with a school district’s course of study and is not an alternative curriculum. Independent study is voluntary. Independent study is available to students from kindergarten through high school, designed to respond to the student’s specific educational needs, interests, aptitudes, and abilities within the confines of the school board policy. At TUSD Independent study is provided through a request initiated by parents. 

TUSD has only limited capacity to offer the supervision of independent study contracts. With school closed for an indefinite period of time, it is not currently possible to provide independent study for all TUSD students.

Distance Education: Employee Roles at TUSD 

Classroom Teachers


Initiate communication interactions with students and families, including but not limited to phone calls, video messages, or email

Support teacher teams at school with technology access, collaboration, and problem solving

Deliver instruction to students by Google Classroom

Conduct and facilitate professional development and staff meetings using zoom or google hangouts

Send students the weekly Distance Education activities along with guidance, suggestions, videos, and supports

Provide ongoing updates to teachers about changes taking place at the state and local levels with respect to COVID-19

Conduct virtual meetings as specified for specific grade levels

Participate in webinars on Distance Education and organize school teams to respond to challenges as they arise.  Communicate regularly with families regarding Distance Education successes, concerns, and needs

Directly support students and families, including providing support to the Distance Education environment

Solicit and monitor communication with families and staff for promising practices

Participate in webinars on Distance Education, and access other online professional development resources about communication technology

Convene teams of teachers as needed to identify PD needs and share promising practices, troubleshoot and brainstorm the Distance Education landscape

Interact with school and county colleagues about best practices in Distance Education

Refine practice recommendations and policy as it relates to grading, special education, support for English Learners, and other topics, in keeping with ongoing guidance from state and federal authorities

Participate in school staff meetings using Zoom or Google Hangout

Develop and lead professional development for teachers and staff including webinars on Distance Education, online resources related to technology tools, individual teacher coaching, behavior and social emotional support

Track student participation in Distance Education, and the rough percentage of assignments that each student completes

Contact families identified in need or who have not engaged in Distance Education activities

Monitor and report on overall student participation in Distance Education

Report to the board trends and outcomes of Distance Education 

Employee Illness During This Public Health Crisis 

According to most public health experts, a large proportion of Americans will be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Many will not develop symptoms, and many will experience only mild or moderate symptoms. A smaller percentage of the population will fall ill from the coronavirus and may need medical attention. Even moderately ill employees may need to self-quarantine. 

All of these factors will impact teachers’ ongoing ability to provide Distance Education support to students, and currently no substitute teachers are available to step in during this period. Students and families should expect that at some point during the school closure period, or during the COVID-19 outbreak, that their teacher may not be able to continue with Distance Education. 

Professional Development for Teachers 

Teachers’ ongoing professional learning is a critical element to the success of any instructional program. During the school closure crisis, teachers will be offered a variety of online professional development opportunities and can seek small group or individual support from TUSD administration. These options are subject to change due to TUSD Staff needs:

1) Distance Education technologies and principles 

2) Distance Education Instructional Resources for Educators 

3)Mental health and social emotional resources for Educators 

4) HCOE sponsored Distance Education sessions 

6) SELPA sponsored mental health and behavioral management sessions 

Important Notes about Distance Education During This Public Health Crisis 

These home learning resources focus first on learning in Language Arts, Math for grades TK-3, and for grades 4-8th add the content ares of Science, and History/Social Studies. As time goes on, we hope to offer additional learning experience in other courses and electives as well. 

This plan is not meant to replicate the full set of learning experiences that our school can offer when we are in session. Parents will need to provide supervision for their students while they are completing schoolwork or engaged in online activities. 

We also recognize that online learning may be better suited for older students who are more capable of independent work and can tolerate longer periods of engagement on the computer. 

Some courses will naturally lend themselves more to online learning, due in part to the availability of online resources and lessons, and the extent to which curriculum publishers make our current materials available online. Not all courses will include this level of online materials. 

Our Current Circumstances 

Over the past month our Teaching Team has met to discuss the state of education for Trinidad Students. Our Team reported that they had contacted 100% of our families and had reciprocal conversations with at least 98% and most of those had occurred more than once. The purpose of this contact was to understand family needs, support student engagement and academic progress, and to disseminate information regarding state and local resources. As Trinidad School moves to a remote teaching platform our Teaching Team has developed digital and print educational opportunities for all students. Our team has endeavored to support students in special education with equitable access to specially trained staff, curriculum, and support for families. 

While TUSD has done an exceptional job at launching a Distance Education program to enrich the academic development of its students, however barriers remain. For staff and families alike, these include: 

  • caregiving duties that affect their work availability, 
  • Illness 
  • limited internet for families and staff 
  • limited access to technology 
  • lack of training with online instruction 
  • overall anxiety and fatigue associated with current social and economic circumstances. 

As a District we are and continue to build our capacity to support families and staff in these and other areas in response to the changing influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

References and Acknowledgements

A special thank you to all of our Teachers and Staff who provided feedback and guidance in the development of this document, TUSD Rocks!  The following resources were used in the development of this document:

Berkley Public Schools Distance Learning Plan, March 23, 2020 

Special Education Guidance for COVID-19 - Health Services & School Nursing (CA Dept of Education) CDE, March 23, 2020 

Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, US Dept of Education, March 21, 2020 

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency, March 14, 2020, Health and Human Services Department 

McKinleyville Union School District Learning Continuity Plan 4/10/2020