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July 24, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 8
Posted 7/24/20

Key Elements and Dates for our Reopening Plan
     There has been no slowing down this summer for the MDUSD central office, where a bustling energy of thoughtful collaboration, resource processing, and constant communication is fueled by quick cups of coffee, optimism, and more importantly, a passion for service. Right now is about making the best out of less-than-ideal circumstances; the district is full speed ahead in finalizing our 2020-21 Reopening Plan that will reflect phases that are consistent with our state’s public health mandates for counties.
     Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark wrote to the public and MDUSD staff on July 22, 2020:
     “On Monday, July 13, 2020, at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Trustees directed the superintendent to prepare staff for opening schools under a 100% distance learning model. With that said, we know that students and families are disappointed that our schools will not open with children in the classroom. Please know that we share this disappointment as well, however, it is the right decision at this time.
     On July 17, 2020, the Governor of California updated guidance for California schools. In his update he outlined five pillars for schools. The most significant update is that schools in California will not be able to open physical campuses until the county has reduced the exposure to COVID-19 for its citizens and has been off of the state’s County Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days. Counties remain on the Monitoring List if they have increased rates of transmission, increased hospitalizations, or if they are close to exceeding their hospital capacity.
     The governor clarified that he is committed to ensuring that students continue to receive a rigorous education throughout the period of time we are engaged in distance learning. The District is also working hard to ensure this is a priority as we open in this format. Key requirements outlined by the governor include the following: 

  • Access to devices and connectivity for all kids
  • Daily live interaction with teachers and other students
  • Challenging assignments equivalent to in-person classes
  • Adapted lessons for English language learners and special education students

     The MDUSD plan for the new school year will look different from what took place in the spring of 2020. It is important to note that our plan retains a strong focus on academic instruction to enhance student performance and address learning loss. There will be daily student and teacher contact, a set schedule, attendance requirements, and grading expectations. While there will be an increase in accountability, we also believe that emphasis on the social-emotional needs of our students should be a priority. 

School offices will be open for live phone calls and email communications on Monday, August 3rd. We are also considering adjusting the first day of instruction from Thursday, August 13th to Monday, August 17th. At this time, please take inventory of your personal computer devices. We are working to ensure that access to devices and internet connectivity is available to families who need support. 
     Again, we understand that distance learning is not ideal for all of our students, families, and employees, however we can assure you that this model will look different than it did in the spring. We will work to keep you informed as we further define the learning experience students will have in August. Stay informed of by visiting our Roadmap to Reopen website. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Sincerely,
Adam Clark, Ed. D.”
     At its upcoming regular meeting on July 27, 2020, the Governing Board will hear a progress update from staff, provide planning guidance to the Superintendent, and formally vote to begin the school year with distance learning. The community may review the full meeting agenda and tune in to the live broadcast at the board meeting access point: mdusd.org/agendasminutes
     The final Reopening Plan will be published on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
     Updates will be communicated to staff and our community directly, and the same information will be posted to www.mdusd.org/reopen

Thoughts and Encouragement from Board Member Joanne Durkee

     “Stay Calm and Carry On,” was a slogan the British government used to encourage its populace during World War II. The power of this motto may be its simplicity and perhaps it could shore us up in our collective fight against Covid19.  But exactly how to, “carry on,” is the question of the day and certainly will not look the same for everyone. On a regular basis we hear the many ways the pandemic has impacted individuals, families, organizations and institutions. While this onslaught of information can be overwhelming, it highlights the complexities of identifying solutions and next steps. 
     As a member of the Governance Team for Mt. Diablo Unified School District, I understand that there are many who care about, contribute to, and support the mission of educating and serving our students. The Board of Education’s work includes listening to and hearing varying perspectives as we establish policy and direction. A structure of Task Forces and specific topic Work Groups is being utilized to bring parents, teachers, support staff (in many different roles), and administrators together to share experiences, perspectives, concerns and ideas. While not perfect, this is an important part of the ongoing planning. In my view this process also serves the purpose of creating broader understanding and empathy amongst the participants. We are each more effective in contributing to solutions as we open up to learning from other’s experiences.
     It is my belief that this is not a short term challenge and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner inspired innovation and true collaboration for working towards the common good will take over. It might mean some letting go of what is familiar and comfortable and it definitely requires everyone’s best thinking in a creative design approach. I hold onto hope that all of us, including our students, will emerge from this historic event, more compassionate, resilient and wiser. A coping mechanism I have adopted is looking for silver lining experiences in my personal life as well as in our broader society. Within MDUSD, this has meant hearing about exceptionally creative ideas, hearing about exceptionally selfless acts of kindness, and seeing folks working tirelessly for the good of our students are ones that inspire me every day.

Partnerships for Good: Feeding our Community
     Each week, thousands upon thousands of pounds of produce and prepared meals are safely distributed free of charge to families all across our community.
     Hunger itself is not easy to recognize and is unfortunately pervasive. Yet, at food distribution sites, in small moments when above our face coverings eyes are meeting eyes with compassion and gratitude, we are reminded that goodness and unity triumph above. This fulfillment of a basic need can sometimes mean the world.
     This is the organized work of our Food and Nutrition Department, our Community Liaison, and of our community partners, with whom we serve side-by-side. Mt. Diablo Unified School District wishes to name, recognize, and thank each of these agencies and their volunteers for their partnership and independent efforts to consistently elevate our community:

Contra Costa Food Bank
White Pony Express
Monument Crisis Center
The Bay Church
County Connection
Refuge Church
St. Francis of Assisi Church
St. Agnes Church
St. Bonaventure Church
Queen of All Saints Church
Eat Real
Yeti Coolers
Las Montañas Supermarket
Tortillas El Molino Restaurant 

     

Austin Breidenthal
Communications Specialist
Mt. Diablo Unified School District