Distance Learning Resources

CCSA is impressing upon charter public schools the need to plan for independent study and distance learning during this public health emergency. It is unclear how long it will be before schools reopen statewide, therefore the development of long-term strategies is critical. CCSA will provide updated resources as needed that ensure appropriate planning for distance learning and academic continuity for the remainder of the school year.

Planning for Distance Learning
Telling Your COVID-19 Data Story
Sample Distance Learning Plans and Resources
Distance Learning Webinars

Planning for Distance Learning

While schools should continue to address the immediate needs of students and families with a variety of short-term solutions, school leaders should also be working with their teams to create long-term plans for distance learning. While nothing is certain, we believe that it is prudent to be building a distance learning plan for your school that could be sustained through the end of this school year. In your planning process, keep these things in mind:

There is no perfect answer or model.

Each school is differently situated and getting remote instruction and resources to students will look different for different schools. The CA Department of Education (CDE) guidance shared a continuum of possibilities. Leaders should be considering which model is feasible, appropriate, and effective for their communities.

Building systems will allow you to improve your program in phases.

Where possible, we recommend building systems that allow you to improve your program each week. For example, some schools have the technology, program, and resources to pivot to full distance learning immediately. Other schools will need to begin by facilitating student learning through teacher videos and paper-pencil work. Regardless of model, all schools should set up systems for effective two-way communication with the community and to monitor student curriculum access in these early weeks. This will allow schools to more easily modify and improve their distance learning plans as time goes on. If school closures continue through the rest of the school year, it is critical that we move toward models of learning at every school that lead to student academic progress aligned with the Common Core State Standards, not just work completion.

This is an “all-hands-on-deck” moment.

We know a key ingredient in California charter schools’ success is an “all-hands-on-deck” culture. Where possible, we encourage you to leverage your entire team to meet the needs of this moment. Everyone should have a role. We also encourage you to use your network and CCSA. No leader should have to create everything from scratch. If your school has a direction and plan already, reach out to CCSA if you’re willing to help other charter schools in the state navigate this difficult moment.

Planning Tool

The guiding questions below are intended to help leaders and their teams prioritize longer-term planning in the coming days. We highly recommend you utilize the CDE vetted resources, examples from other leaders, and start by capitalizing on the expertise already alive on your team.

Every school should set a timeline for planning and implementation that is rigorous but feasible for them. However, if schools feel unsure, we recommend setting vision and strategy in 1-2 planning days no later than March 25. After March 25, we recommend no more than 1.5 weeks to prepare for full implementation so that students resume learning in April.

  • What have you done since your students stopped coming to campus? Can that approach be sustained for a week or two while a team creates a more robust long-term plan? Who will manage the continuation of your short-term plan? Who will lead longer-term planning?
  • What is the technology accessibility of your community? How can you find out quickly if you don’t already know?
  • Based on the technology accessibility of your community and the continuum of what can be offered to students, what will be most accessibly and effective for your community?
  • What are the priority subject areas and focus standards that need to be covered in the remaining portion of the year?
  • How will you measure if your long-term plan is successful?
  • What resources and supplies, outside of technology, will students need at home to access the distance learning program and how will schools acquire those resources and get them to students? (Pencils, paper, markers, pens, glue sticks…)
  • Do you have a teacher leader or staff member who effectively uses google classroom or another easy-to-use platform? Is that person working on your longer-term plan and/or training up other staff?
  • Does your current curriculum or assessments come with online resources that you can get students quick access to?
  • How can you get free resources to your students as fast as possible? Who is in charge of selecting these resources for your school?
  • What role does each person or each team on staff have?
  • Who is monitoring different areas of the program you are rolling out? For example:
    • Family communication
      • Distance learning launch
      • Regular check-ins
    • Student services
    • Technology use
    • Standards alignment/rigor
    • Assessment/student progress
  • If you will use any form of paper-pencil materials, who will monitor the quality of those? the pick and drop off of packets?
  • How will your Special Education team be communicating with teachers and with administrators? Who will be the lead on long term Special Education planning?
  • How will your leadership team stay in touch? Daily calls, texts, slack, other?
  • How will your entire team check-in?
    • Consider staff meetings and professional development/success sharing among support staff and teachers
  • How will your students access teachers and staff?
  • How often will families hear from the school?
    • About priorities and your plan (i.e. what they can expect for next few weeks, what won’t be covered, how much time accessing instruction online vs completing work is expected, etc.)
    • About daily assignments?
    • About newly accessible resources?
    • About the most important things families can be doing?
    • About community resources for food or child supervision (if applicable)?
  • Who is the point of contact for students/families? Can your entire staff take a caseload of students to ensure daily access to an adult? How will you collect information on that daily contact?
  • If you are using an independent study packet-based work, how and when are you collecting student work? What will be the process for teacher grading and feedback? Where will those be filed and stored?
  • Who will be keeping monitoring CCSA Member Alerts, advocacy updates, and website? Who will be monitoring for local updates and changes?
  • Who will take responsibility for creating and overseeing attendance procedures?

Telling Your COVID-19 Data Story

Now that distance learning has been implemented in most cases, CCSA encourages leaders to think about how the successes and challenges of their distance learning plans will be quantified. This will benefit schools by supporting continuous improvement and preparedness for future accountability measures.

Guidance for Collecting Data During Distance Learning 

Sample Distance Learning Plans and Resources

An abundant number of distance learning resources have been circulated in the last week by companies, listservs, and social media. If those resources have become too numerous to be useful, we recommend connecting directly with educators in your network. There is no need to start from scratch. Here are sample plans that may help you jump start your process.

  • Fortune School Distance Learning Hub. As a service to the Sacramento region, Fortune School has launched a free, high-quality Distance Learning Hub that any parent can access for instruction in grades K-8. Fortune is sharing the content its teachers created for students enrolled in its own schools with all students in the community. Fortune School is a network of K-12 public charter schools authorized by the Sacramento County Board of Education. Fortune School is providing free office hours to the public with credentialed teachers where parents and students can get homework help. 
  • Spring Charter Schools Open Classroom. For those who need education now, we have a Free Public Open Classroom available for all children grades K-8, and resources available for high school students.
  • Rocketship Distance Learning Launchpad. A fully open source portal of original content, teacher produced videos, guides, tutorials, and third party resources for distance learning. We want to help all families, students, and teachers adapt to learning from home by sharing what is working for us. 
  • The STE[+a]M Channel. UC San Diego Extension, with the support of the Girard Foundation, has created some great videos in English and Spanish to support families and caregivers during COVID-19. Real-time support for families is also available through teleconference (Zoom) by the Department upon request.
  • CCEE Distance & Hybrid Learning Playbooks. The CCEE presents these playbooks in collaboration with our county offices of education, local educational agencies, and other technical assistance partners for planning a safe return to school that maximizes future equity outcomes and addresses the diverse needs of California’s students while adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
  • Sample Plan K-8 #1
  • Sample Plan K-8 #2
  • Sample Virtual Learning Schedule 9-12
  • Sample Learning Packets
  • Sample Guide for Families and Students
  • Transition Planning in Phases
  • All Sample Distance Learning Plans

Distance Learning Webinars

Distance Learning with Grades K-5

In this webinar for K-5 educators, leaders from iLead Schools discuss best practices for distance learning including developing an Emergency Operating Plan, lesson planning, equity & access, and communicating with parents and community members.

Distance Learning with Grades 6-12

In this webinar for 6-12 leaders, Jim Scheible, Executive Director of Clayton Valley Charter High School, discusses best practices for distance learning including how to communicate effectively with teachers and students, how to “sprinkle joy” with students and staff, and how to track progress on distance learning implementation.

Alliance Distance Learning with Grades 6-12. In this webinar for 6-12 leaders, Ana Menezes, Chief Academic Officer at Alliance Public Schools, discusses best practices for launching distance learning including how to communicate with teachers & leaders, monitor student/teacher progress, and communicate with parents.

Granada Hills Charter School TK-12 Distance Learning. In this webinar, join Granada Hills Charter School (TK-12) leaders Jenny DaCosta, David Densinger, and Jana Davenport, as they discuss how they successfully transitioned their students to online learning. The team discusses best practices around online infrastructure and platforms, and how to integrate technology into the school day.


If you have any questions regarding distance learning and the charter school community, please reach out to info@ccsa.org so we may better support you.