Coronavirus: 'Distance learning' amid COVID-19 emergency posing challenges for graduating seniors, college admissions

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California officials have issued new graduation guidelines as the state grapples with the coronavirus crisis. There's also new assistance for local students and families as schools are expected to remain closed through the end of the academic year.

Pasadena Unified School District is among the many districts across California that is following the strong recommendation from state officials to extend remote learning through this current school year. For PUSD, the school year concludes on May 28. For others, that extends well into June.

Even though school campuses are closed, that does not mean classes are canceled for the rest of the year, according to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who added that there is still "distance learning" going on from home.

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Thurmond announced new guidance on graduation requirements and grading for seniors. He added that the goal is to relieve stress and anxiety for students preparing for college.

The directive is that all seniors who are on tract for graduation should be held harmless in grading and should be able to graduate.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education is working with the University of California, Cal State and community college system as well as private universities on solutions to many challenges in the college admission process.

The outbreak has created many issues for students of all ages, as well as their parents.

"It's challenging having different curriculums, having to set up different meetings with the teachers and receiving an insane amount of information and resources online," parent Evelyn Sanchez said.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday the district is working to expand its connection with students, noting that thousands of them haven't had any contact with the district since campuses closed.

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LAUSD will begin operating a mental health hotline Thursday to help students and families coping with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The hotline, which can be reached at 213-241-3840, will be staffed by counselors and mental health professionals on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., LAUSD officials said. Hotline operators will be available to speak to people in English or Spanish.

Teachers can also call to get advice on how to connect their students to services. Questions can also be sent to mentalhealth@lausd.net.

LAUSD officials said they are continuing to operate the district's COVID-19 hotline at 213-443-1300 to help answer questions families may have about school operations, technology and other student-related matters.

A resource guide of community organizations that provide services for students and families is also available at lausd.net.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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