Dear PUSD Community,

This has been one of the most eventful years in the history of our district.

The last few months have been a time of major adjustments and change as together we honored the Safer at Home public health orders and slowed the spread of COVID-19.

I must take a minute to thank our amazing teachers, administrators and staff for ensuring that learning continues for our students. Our teachers and staff kept teaching, students kept learning, and parents and caregivers supported learning at home.

I am so proud of the way that the PUSD community responded. Through it all, our community united and demonstrated that persevering through adversity is truly what makes us champions.

From instruction to nutrition, PUSD has continued to offer programs and services in dramatically different ways to serve our students. Since schools physically closed in March, PUSD served more than 120,000 meals at our Grab and Go Centers and this service will continue through the summer.

Our community has come together to support our students and families. The city of Pasadena provides meals on weekends and our community partners and volunteers serve and deliver meals and assist our students and families in a variety of ways. I am especially grateful to our food service workers who put themselves in harm’s way to continue to serve our families.

Our students have shown us just how remarkable they are. Many of our students are transitioning from elementary to middle school, and middle to high school, and graduating from high school. With large public gatherings ruled out by COVID-19, we are celebrating our students in a different way.

I want to especially address our high school graduates, seniors who have worked so hard over their years in high school and who now face a very different world than just three months ago.

We have taken extra care to make your virtual graduations the special event that you have earned while knowing it is far from what you imagined. Even in these circumstances, we are excited to celebrate your achievement and we are confident that despite these very different circumstances you will go off into the world and accomplish great things. It is our intention to have an in-person celebration when safety permits.

As we look ahead to our next school year that begins in August, our team is developing plans for face-to-face instruction, distance learning, and a blend of the two. We are actively exploring options for instruction while keeping everyone’s safety as our top priority.

We will keep you informed as our planning is developed.

As you may know, COVID-19 has created a severe funding shortfall for all schools in California, PUSD included. The loss of revenue to the state is in the billions, and we are facing severe budget challenges as a result. We are undertaking an extensive review of our budgets, with the goal of keeping reductions away from the classroom. At the same time, we are advocating for fiscal relief from the state.

We fully understand the key role schools will play in the recovery process and to continue to deliver the teaching and learning that prepares our students for success in the future.

I want to again thank our Board of Education, instructional and support staff, and administrators for their hard work and dedication during this emergency.

Thank you for your support and understanding as we move the Pasadena Unified School District forward. All of us working together will get through this as we unite to keep our community healthy and safe. I can’t wait for the day when we can see each other in person. 

Brian McDonald is superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District.