As part of its monthly meeting agenda, the local chapter of the American Association of University Women invited superintendents from the two largest school districts in the Yuba-Sutter area to speak and take questions from the public. 

Yuba City Unified School District Superintendent Doreen Osumi and Marysville Joint Unified School District Superintendent Fal Asrani each spoke about the challenges and changes that each of their districts have undergone during the last two years of the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both agreed that the public health crisis has forced employees and department leaders within YCUSD and MJUSD to reinvent themselves in order to keep moving forward in educating students. 

“Learning is going to look different,” Osumi said during her presentation. “We’re preparing for the unexpected. I think we’re ready.” 

Osumi said that some of the bigger moves that her district has made and will continue to observe in the future are finding ways to connect with students and teachers digitally over multiple platforms. 

One of the bigger concerns that the district faces is what to do when a student is sent home for 10 days to quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test. 

With the help of state and federal funding, Osumi said the district received over 13,000 Chromebooks for students to keep up with their studies at home. 

But how does a student connect to a digital classroom without internet access? 

Many local families are without reliable internet access, especially in the foothill areas, as Asrani noted. 

Both Asrani and Osumi have worked to partner with cable companies to enhance digital hotspots for those families living in remote, off the beaten path areas in Yuba-Sutter. 

“You have to have all kinds of learning styles,” Osumi said. “It’s amazing to watch it (be put) in place.” 

A lot of what has been added to the region’s curriculum since March 2020 will continue to be used each school year, Osumi said. 

Osumi likes the idea of home checkups where school resource officers visit a family at home to make sure they are equipped to work digitally. 

It’s not solely school-related, Osumi said. 

Osumi and Asrani spoke about providing meals to families struggling with food insecurity -- something that was added during the outset of the pandemic and will not go away anytime soon. 

“We’re engaged with families (because) it is about surviving,” Osumi said. “We’re doing whatever is necessary to help.” 

Both superintendents were also asked about declining enrollment within the two districts. While Asrani and Osumi noted that some families have left for private charter schools for a variety of reasons, public school enrollment is beginning to bounce back locally.

Asrani said MJUSD is approximately running at over 10,000 students, while Osumi said YCUSD is sitting at about 12,000. 

AAUW provided both Asrani and Osumi with $100 checks in their name to be donated to a charity of their choosing. 

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.aauw.org.

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