This year is unlike any school year in recent history. While the Rio School District was already established during the 1918 flu pandemic, and an historical analysis of what it was like is surely a worthy endeavor, this coming school year which begins online on August 31, 2020 at 9:00 am is going to be an usual experience in many ways. Although campuses were closed in March of the 2019/20 school year due to this coronavirus pandemic, we were all shocked into a major adaptation in order to keep school going.

During last school year’s closures we worked hard to learn to adapt in many ways. Lessons learned will be applied this school year. We learned that connecting with children and families was and is the first task. Along these lines, we will begin this school year and our two weeks of Smart Start working to make sure that families and children have the technology and other resources they need to establish a regular weekly and daily schedule that supports their connecting, engaging and improving learning.

We know this school year (at-home/distance learning) opening is challenging for many families who may struggle with technology or child care issues. We know that all families want to return to a normal time when children can safely come to school and enjoy and thrive in the on-campus learning environment. Along these lines, the board of trustees and administration are working with staff to develop and implement a plan to shift back to an on-campus & distance blended learning model when state and county health departments declare that Ventura County is safe to do so. These plans will have to adhere to required precautions including social distancing, face mask wearing, disinfecting procedures and more. 

Recently, county health officials changed their position in terms of consideration of waivers for some on-campus learning during the time when Ventura County is still not meeting state required coronavirus statistical requirements for moving off the state watch list for cases. District staff and the board of trustees will consider this recent change of position at the same as preparing to open school in the distance learning model. Decisions related to the safety and well-being of children and community are of great consequence. As always, decisions will be informed by communications with staff and community as well as the best possible information and scientific guidelines.

As we get ready to start school in the distance learning mode, we are also preparing campuses and staff to be as safe as possible when children do return to schools for face to face learning. We look to every staff member to maximize their collaboration, flexibility, and innovation as we get ready to serve the children and families of the Rio School District. We seek and greatly appreciate your understanding and cooperation as families and community members as we work to meet the basic goals for the opening of the school year;

Goal 1: Connect 100% of children and families to their classes and teachers.

Goal 2: Engage 100% of children in meaningful learning activities.

Goal 3: Improve learning over time.

Now more than ever, the communication and relationships between families and schools are critical to children’s development and learning. We look forward to serving children and community and to accomplishing these and many more goals.

John Puglisi, Ph.D.

Superintendent, Rio School District

Educating Learners to Thrive


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