The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) Board heard reports from directors on the first week of distance learning at a special board meeting over Zoom on Aug. 26. Superintendent Karen Schauer said she visited a number of teachers engaged with their students and was pleased with their progress.

“Some teachers were working in their classrooms while others chose to work from home,” Schauer said. “We are on the learning curve.”

Curriculum Director Claudia Del Toro Aguiano said the months of preparation is paying off, but there are challenges in distance learning. She said Monday Zoom was down in the area and also in many parts of the country.

“It’s a great start,” Del Toro Aguiano said. “Engagement is high. Little ones are learning to come back after their breaks and be ready to learn. There’s a focus on building relationships – getting to know each other.”

Del Toro Aguiano said planning lessons for each day are taking a lot of time for the teachers. Educators have many resources over the net but finding the right videos and enrichment materials takes lots of time.

“Everything that works in the classroom doesn’t always translate for distance learning,” Del Toto Aguiano said.

Donna Mayo Whitlock, director of educational services, also reported on support services for teachers, parents and students.

“It’s all hands on deck,” Mayo Whitlock said. “BFLC (library) personnel are providing tech to help parents, even in Spanish. Even yard supervisors are helping with support.”

The district will be providing library services for students starting this month, according to Mayo Whitlock. Students may check out books online, and parents can pick up the books when they pick up their children’s lunches. She also said the Sacramento County libraries can be accessed online, and they provide curbside pickup of the books.

Trustee Tom Silva asked if students could interact with each other. Del Toro Aguiano said teachers are opening their online classes with “How are you doing?” and other exercises to get classmates acquainted.

Director of Business Services Lois Yount reported on tech support and meals.

“We’re serving meals at all school sites,” Yount said. “Parents are picking up a lunch and breakfast for the next day. Next week, we’re going to incorporate hot meals. We are also getting requests for five-day pickups. It’s hard for parents to pack up children and get out each day. We will consider this.”

Schauer reported on efforts to return to on-campus learning. She said it is especially important for special needs learners.

“We’ve been looking at waivers to get back on campus,” Schauer said. “The county shared that conditions (COVID-19) remain a problem and they are not considering waivers at this time.”

The county will mandate having testing on each school site and be trained in tracking students and personnel should any test positive.

“This is an area that’s really important to have in place,” Schauer said. “Donna is working with the school nurse and looking into an agency to help test and train staff to be able to do it also. Results must come back in 24 hours so we can make decisions on whether to open or whether to close.”

Mayo Whitlock also reported on the long-term homeschooling program called GLEE (Galt Learning for Equity and Excellence). She said 173 students are enrolled and over half qualify for free meals. Many have special needs and 11 are in special day classes with their special education teachers. She said parents had to agree to a long-term arrangement.

As customary, Schauer reported on recent retirees. Marjorie Woods in food service retired after 17 years with the district. Jeff Adams, custodian at McCaffrey, retired after 22 years of service. Marengo Ranch yard supervisor Aileen Fletcher retired after 15 years. River Oaks teacher Neika Estey retired last month. Vicki LaPorte in food services at Valley Oaks (six years) and Lisa Vigil of food services at Marengo Ranch also retired.