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TUSD seeks parent input on reopening schools

In preparation for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, Turlock Unified School District is asking parents for their input on how they’d like to see classes resume after the coronavirus pandemic shut down campuses during the final three months of school.

The District released an online Planning for Change survey Thursday that calls on parents to consider four different learning options for their children this fall: a traditional learning model (daily classroom attendance), a blended learning model (two days in class, three days distance learning), a distance learning model (current pandemic model) or a hybrid learning model (interactions with teacher at school and through technology, but learning at home).

TUSD hopes to return to school in-person with traditional daily instruction on Aug. 12, but stated in a Facebook post that preparations need to be made should the District be required to follow social distancing guidelines and implement a modified schedule though a blended model or distance learning.

“Final decisions regarding school re-openings will be in alignment with guidance from state and local officials, including the Public Health Officer,” the District wrote. “TUSD values parent input and would appreciate your responses to this short survey to gain insight on how you would like to see school begin in August.”

According to Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Heidi Lawler, TUSD created the four different learning models in order to provide quality education no matter the circumstance. The four options provide not only methods that will ensure instruction continues should the pandemic persist, but also allows parents who choose to keep their children at home the choice of independent study.

“For parents who opt to keep their children home, the Hybrid Learning Model (Independent Learning) would serve their students and has been developed as one of the Learning Model Considerations specifically to support families with such an interest. It’s crucial that we continue to demonstrate understanding and empathy for the academic and behavioral needs of all students and strive to meet those needs, accordingly,” Lawler said, adding that TUSD has also considered options for parents who may be returning to work should school continue to be closed.

“For working parents, TUSD recognizes that there will be challenges if social distancing or school suspension are implemented based on state and local officials’ guidance,” she said. “After school childcare programming for TUSD is facilitated by the City of Turlock; the District maintains regular communication with city staff to keep them informed and work collaboratively to support families.”

The survey itself asks parents to share whether or not they would send their child to school in the fall if campuses reopen, then asks if their children would be allowed to return under each of the different learning models. “Yes,” “no” and “undecided” are the options provided. Parents are also asked if they would prefer the Hybrid Learning Model, or independent study, no matter what decision the school makes as to reopening.

Those who take the survey can also select what health precautions they’d like to see implemented during the school year, like staff and students wearing masks, hand sanitizer readily available, social distancing practices or no precautions at all. There is also a space where parents can leave any other comments or suggestions for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to Lawler, the Traditional Learning Model is the most optimal when it comes to student engagement and information retained. However, she added, some parents have reported great success with the current Distance Learning method as well as independent study, like the Hybrid Learning Model.

Knowing just how many parents plan on keeping their students at home next school year is key to being prepared, Lawler said.

“For those families who express an interest in the Hybrid Learning Model for an independent learning program, the survey data may give an indication of staffing, curriculum, and technology needs.”

Similar to TUSD’s Local Accountability and Control Plan survey, responses will help the District create a plan that benefits all students and follows state guidelines.

“Receiving input on the learning models is incredibly helpful as the District moves forward because it identifies areas of interest and concern. The feedback through open-ended comments provides very specific information regarding the experiences of students and families which gives insight unlike any other,” Lawler said. “TUSD appreciates its partnership with parents and their feedback is invaluable to us.”

TUSD asks that parents complete and submit the Planning for Change survey before June 5. The survey can be accessed at and paper surveys will be made available during Tuesday’s meal distributions.