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How South City High Got Students Back on Track during a Pandemic
Posted 12/17/20

Assistant Principals Steven Wong and Daniel FloresEver since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person classes at South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) on March 16, 2020, educators had always feared that some students might fall through the cracks with distance learning. However, during the December 10 meeting of the SSFUSD board of trustees, South City High Principal Kevin Asbra reported increases in honor roll participation across his sophomore, junior, and senior classes. 

Specifically, almost 48% of sophomores (class of ‘23) were on the honor roll compared to about 42% at the same time last year when they were freshmen. Meanwhile, honor roll participation among juniors (‘22) had also increased from 31% to 46% over the previous year and from 40% to 57% among seniors (’21).

“Our students are engaged, and they’re doing well,” said Mr. Asbra. “We have our challenges with some that our struggling, but we’re really proud of that.” 

He said administrators had also made between 250 and 300 home visits to students who had failed to show up to online classes or who were in danger of falling behind. 

For example, ninth grade English teacher Chauntel Oseguera, identified a freshman who had received Fs in three different classes, and his parents had not responded to e-mails or phone calls from the school. 

Consequently, Assistant Principals Steven Wong and Daniel Flores paid the student a visit on September 29, 2020.
“Our intention was to make sure the family still lived in the area, and, if so, find out how we could support the student in attending classes by offering technology devices or technical support,” said Mr. Flores. 
The freshman said he was surprised to see the two administrators knocking on his door.
“I didn’t know who they were,” he said.

“When we found the student, we explained that his teachers were worried about him,” said Mr. Wong. “He appeared to be unaware that in high school he would have to repeat a grade, if he failed. After our conversation, he promised to contact his teachers to make up the missing assignments.”

The freshman subsequently began working with Ms. Oseguera to catch up on his work. By the winter break, his grades had risen from an F in English and P.E. to A- and A respectively.
“This year has been very difficult for everyone,” said Mr. Flores. “We are all in uncharted territory.”