ORCUTT, Calif. - The first day of school is a little over two weeks away, and school leaders are preparing to enter an instructional year like no other. Students will not be returning to campuses across Santa Barbara County because it remains on the state's Coronavirus watch list.
It will be the first year at the helm of the Orcutt Union School District for Dr. Holly Edds.
"Literally every day brings new challenges," Edds said. "But it also brings opportunities."
Edds has been an educator on the Central Coast for 25 years. She started as a teacher and worked her way up to the Orcutt Union District Management Team where she has worked in educational services for the past 16 years. This is her first as Superintendent of the Orcutt Union School District, overseeing about 5000 students on 10 campuses.
This summer has been far from a break. Edds meets virtually with district principals weekly. She also says teachers have been preparing through the summer for an enhanced online learning curriculum.
"I have to say I'm so proud of our teachers and the incredible growth that they've experienced and how professional they've been through this entire pandemic," Edds said.
When students were sent home in March, distance learning was a new concept and lessons had to be built in short order. With that experience to build on and a summer to refine things, students should expect more challenging work from home across the board, with the state raising the bar on what's required.
"Really it's going to be a much more robust program with specific instructional time, and assigned activities," Edds said. "Very different from what we had in the Spring."
The challenges for parents and care givers will be the same.
"Just to try and keep him motivated and to try and get him to get his work done and stay on task and just with all the Zoom and the teachers ..." said Grandmother Katrina Dell. "It's just not having the setting in the classroom is very challenging for us."
When asked what advice she has for parents dealing with more distance learning for their kids during the pandemic, Edds said create a space where kids can work from home. If they don't have their own device to work on, check one out from the school, and reach out to your child's teacher or principal if you need help.
"We want to hear about it so that we can make improvements," Edds said. "So we can really reach our kids and provide them with the education they deserve."
According to the Governor's order, in person learning can not resume until the county is off the state's watch list for 14 consecutive days. Orcutt Union Schools begin on August 13.