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As schools across California begin virtual instruction, students, parents and teachers have many questions and concerns after enduring a hectic spring semester. How will California’s 6 million students and their parents navigate this crisis — and when will students be able to safely return to some form of in-person learning?

We had a conversation with Californians who are testing out different approaches to overcoming the challenges educators and their pupils face. K-12 education reporter Ricardo Cano moderated a discussion that addresses the current problems, how instructional standards vary from district to district, and some of the plans that teachers and districts are implementing to improve distance learning programs for the fall semester.

This event took place on Thursday, August 13.

You can read a recap of key takeaways from the discussion. To view a resource guide from this event, please click here.


  • Don Austin, superintendent of Palo Alto Unified School District
  • Heather Hough, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education
  • Lakisha Young, parent and founder/exec director of Oakland Reach
  • Elijah Tsai, a senior at Lincoln High School in Stockton, and state president of the California Association of Student Councils

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Vanessa is a former business journalist who has covered personal investing, venture capital, startups and business management for publications like Entrepreneur, Money, the San Francisco Business Times...