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April 1, 2020

Dear Simi Valley Schools Community:

I hope that this message finds all of you safe and healthy at home.

I know how challenging the last few weeks have been for all of us. Personally, my family and I are experiencing many of the same anxieties and worries as most of you are. What has eased some of the stress for me are the many uplifting messages I’ve received from our community; the determination, perseverance and humor I see our families using on social media posts; and the creativity and adaptation I see in my staff’s efforts to embrace Distance Learning for all of our students. I, and my entire staff at Simi Valley Schools, want to be there for each of you, as you have been for us.

Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s press conference today and after a meeting this afternoon among all Ventura County superintendents, all Ventura County public school facilities will remain closed to the end of the 2019-2020 school year. However, all learning will not stop this year. Our teachers and staff will continue to implement the Distance Learning efforts they have begun using to deliver instruction directly to our students while maintaining the social distancing guidelines.

This move generates many legitimate concerns and difficult ramifications. Questions will range from how will we enroll students for next year and what will be the impact on our students’ grades to what will graduations look like for our high school seniors? These and many other questions are already being considered among Simi’s school and district leadership. We know at this time that there are more questions and problems than answers. We are working through the many issues and making decisions, which we will continue to share with you along the way.

What you do need to know today is that my intention, as the Superintendent of the Simi Valley Unified School District, is to encourage a grading strategy among our teachers that does no harm. This means that we will work closely with our teachers to make sure that opportunities are provided to enable students to improve their grades as needed, and with the greatest flexibility possible. We want to alleviate as much anxiety as possible among our students, especially those who are worried about college transcripts and admission, as well as those promoting to the next grade level.

We know that the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems are beginning to make accommodations for graduating seniors adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to monitor and relay any changes in these policies to our families because we know that the continued flow of information is the best way to help ease the stress on our students.


By this time, all of our parents/students should have received notifications from their schools and/or teachers about the Distance Learning efforts. I wish to make clear to our families that the type of learning happening now is not meant to replicate what a teacher usually achieves with his or her students in a typical in-person classroom. Our students can and will progress with Distance Learning, and the longer we use the techniques and tools involved, the more successful our teachers and students will be. Especially in these early days, we ask for your continued support with your children. To the best of your ability, given work and other commitments, having parents monitor and reinforce what our teachers are asking students to do is the best way to ensure their growth and engagement.  As I have also told our teachers, I know that you will do the best that you can do considering your challenges.

If your child is in middle or high school, it is vital that you have them regularly check their district email account! Many teachers are reaching out directly to their students through these email accounts.

If you have any questions at all about the process, problems to solve or anything else involving Distance Learning, please reach out directly to your child’s teacher(s) and/or their principal. Most issues and questions can be resolved by them and they are responding.


An email was sent to all students and parents yesterday evening explaining that we have a limited number of Chromebooks available to loan out to those students who need them most. In time, we will be able to provide Chromebooks for all students who need them. The message sent out is found HERE in English and Spanish, and we ask that you please read it completely. There is a lot of important information in the message for our families.


Our Child Nutrition Department continues to do an amazing job at providing free breakfast and lunch to our district’s children. Just to recap, we have three sites providing meals through a drive-through system: Berylwood Elementary School (2300 Heywood St.), Santa Susana High School (3570 E. Cochran St.), and Park View Elementary School (1500 Alexander St.). The pick-up hours have been extended. They are Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Walk-ups are discouraged but no child will be turned away. The menus are available HERE.

For the upcoming holidays on Friday, April 10 and Monday, April 13, breakfast and lunch will still be provided for these days. BUT THEY WILL BE HANDED OUT ON THURSDAY, APRIL 9. At all three pick-up locations, Child Nutrition will hand a bag for each child that will contain three breakfasts and three lunches, representing meals for Thursday, Friday, and Monday.


Our general education and special education summer school programs are still taking applications to register. All of the current requirements still apply (high schoolers need to receive counselor clearance for many of the classes, etc…). Please go to HERE for more information. This year more than ever summer school may be a great opportunity for your student. We have programs for grades 2 through 12.  Just know that there is the potential that if the COVID-19 mandates remain through the summer, that these programs could be online, but at this point we are hopeful that they won’t be.

Again, I want to thank our community for your continued patience and support. I know that the decisions made today will reverberate for our families for a long time, and they were not made lightly. We will continue to work together to make this situation the safest, healthiest and in the best interest of our students and staff.

Please stay strong and please stay home.

Dr. Jason Peplinski
Simi Valley Unified School District