Irvine Unified School District Superintendent Terry Walker.

IUSD superintendent reflects on achievements in distance learning

by TOM BERG

Families across Irvine quickly adapted to distance learning over the last few months. We asked Irvine Unified School District Superintendent Terry Walker how the district managed this transition to support 36,000 students while maintaining its standard as a national leader in education.

Tell us about IUSD’s transition to distance learning.

IUSD schools closed on March 16. By March 18, IUSD teachers and staff were implementing distance learning for all of our students across our more than 40 school sites. This incredible accomplishment in such a short period of time cannot be overstated. It is a testament to our leadership, teachers, administrators and staff who remained engaged in maintaining continuity of learning and district operations for our students.

What was the experience like?

Each week, we saw tremendous examples of our teachers and staff finding innovative ways to connect with students at all levels that were interactive and engaging. Visual and performing arts, STEM, English language arts, PE, virtual performances, events, competitions and activities all continued.

Equally important was our districtwide focus on the social-emotional well-being of our students, with messages encouraging acts of kindness and gratitude, and efforts to keep students connected to teachers, staff and friends.

How did students respond?

Our students, especially our graduating seniors, exhibited unparalleled grit and resilience as they made sacrifices for the greater good of our community. These lessons will stay with our students, and I believe will help them further build character and strengthen their determination, so they can persevere and excel in any environment.

What online resources were made available to students and parents?

We distributed more than 6,000 Chromebooks to students who needed them. Our Information Technology team set up technology centers to distribute, exchange and service Chromebooks. They provided online tutorials for students, parents and staff. And they helped thousands of students get connected and remain connected for distance learning. Our Education Technology team maintains all of our software, websites, video production and professional development resources for teachers to deploy distance learning and technology.