School Starts Aug 17

This week our MDUSD school board voted to revise the school calendar so that students will now begin school on August 17th instead of Aug 13th.  Staff also reported that Google Classroom and Seesaw will be the overall Learning Management Systems to be used districtwide.  Google Classroom can be integrated with Aeries/Homelink to create a more seamless experience for students, parents and teachers.

The 2020-21 reopening plan has just been posted on the Roadmap to Reopen page and updates will continue to be posted there.  School websites will post more detailed information on registration, schedules and how to pick up materials for distance learning.

Read on for:

  • Students - 3 opportunities for you to lead!
  • Internet Options
  • Childcare
  • Equity tools
  • Next Board mtg Aug 10th

Students - 3 opportunities for you to lead!

    1. GENup - Generationup.net - a CA based student led organization advocating for education through the power of youth voices. The Mt Diablo Acalanes chapter is led by Northgate student Michelle Alas. They are hoping to expand now to include students from all high schools in Mt Diablo. Apply now here 
    2. Empowered - www.empoweredusa.org - This student led, contra costa based organization is dedicated to fostering youth engagement in local and national democracy. We center our advocacy around issues that matter to young people and seek to involve the community through phone banking and virtual campaigning. 
    3. County Health Services Looking for COVID-19 Youth Ambassadors - Young adult voices needed to help stop the spread of the virus
      • We know young people can have the virus without experiencing any symptoms, so they can spread it to others unknowingly, including to those at high risk. 
      • One key to ending this pandemic is helping young people protect themselves and protect others, symptoms or not. Youth voices are the most effective in communicating with each other. Your power and leadership are needed! 
      • In this new program, the Ambassadors will help create youth/young adult focused messages on protecting yourself from COVID-19, and on getting tested. Ambassadors will help spread the messages on social media. 
      • Each ambassador will receive a $525 stipend. 
      • Application deadline is August 3.
      • Apply online here.
      • Other details:
        • Open to youth/young adults between ages 15 and 24.
        • Campaign will last through 2020.
        • Ambassadors will participate in focus groups, surveys, interviews.
        • 25 Ambassadors are being recruited from all parts of the County

Childcare

CocoKids is our local county nonprofit that can help you find the childcare that you need at https://www.cocokids.org/find-child-care/

Internet Options

    • Click the link and type in your address to find the closest hotspot near you.Everyone can now access out-of-home Xfinity WiFi hotspots for free: These hotspots are normally located in business areas, retail locations and transit areas. To find your nearest hotspot, enter your zip code. Once you are at the location, follow the instructions at xfinity.com/wifi to join the hotspot. These 1.5 million hotspots are now free for all who need them through this challenging time.
  • MDUSD did also purchase 600 hotspots to check out to students who struggle to access the internet, as we understand from this study that the affordable "deals" are still inaccessible to families who are unhoused, unbanked or undocumented.  We aim to ensure every student is connected, so please contact your school principal or staff if you need to check out one of these mobile hotspots along with your chromebook.

Equity Tools

Shared by MDUSD teachers:

Next School Board Mtg Aug 10th

Find the agenda here when it is posted, and look at the top of the agenda for how to make public comments via email or phone. There you can also watch prior board meetings. Click here to access the Board Action Summaries.

I hope you all are finding moments of peace, health, and inspiration amidst the stresses of this time!

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Welcome Dr Clark & fall planning

We've been busy this summer on the MDUSD School Board!  Read on for summaries of

  • Superintendent hire
  • Board direction for Distance Learning
  • Fall Planning - task forces & technology
  • Next Board mtg July 27th
  • Summer Resources

Welcome Dr Clark!

One of the most important roles of a school board is the hiring of the Superintendent, and on Monday we officially appointed Dr Adam Clark as Superintendent of MDUSD.  He comes to our district with an amazing skill set and breadth of experience, having taught at every level, and championed student success in a wide variety of settings from Principal of Miramonte High in Orinda to Superintendent of Vallejo Unified School District. I can't wait to see him in action, building relationships with all corners of our district community!  Please give him a warm welcome.

Board Actions - starting the school year with Distance Learning

As reported in East Bay Times and summarized well by Board President Lawrence, our School Board did advise to begin the school year with distance learning.

You can watch the video of Monday night's July 13th meeting here, including the presentation and discussion of fall planning.  Each board member gave their perspective and then Dr Clark summarized what he heard, saying:

"I want to start from a place of unity... we need to be intentional as we move forward... we are going to have to build trust, have open dialogue and be transparent to do what is best for students, staff and families.  I'm hearing from the board that distance learning is how we're going to start off...  We will begin now to identify what we need to address immediately and what can be planned for longer term...  I want to get input from as many people as possible... be intentional, out of respect and collaboration and what is best for all students, all staff, all families." 

Click to the following times in the video for:

  • Public comments, such as this one from a Meadow Homes teacher (my dog Tiger Lily listened along too) - 1:28:16
  • Student Board Member proposal presented by student Michelle Alas - 2:03:00
  • Reopening Plan Presentation - 2:40:38
  • My comments re fall planning needed specifics - 3:44:50
  • Dr Clark - 4:08:55

It's exciting to see the potential of increasing student leadership in our district by bringing on an official student board member. Thank you all who signed Michelle's petition to encourage this action. I hope that we are able to make that a reality very soon.

Fall Planning

Task Forces – Thank you to all who are participating in the deep details of fall reopening of schools. With such a diverse group of perspectives in each workgroup, the best ideas are brought forward through deliberative discussions and recommended based on student needs and priorities.  I look forward to seeing each workgroup’s deliverables.

We all understand that workgroup tasks will overlap, and not all recommendations from all groups will make it into the final plan. However I know that so many parents, teachers, staff put in much time, thought and effort into those deliverables and they contain the level of detail that we need in order to make these crucial decisions.

Technology readiness –

I shared at the board meeting that I think it's time for action in 3 areas to ensure readiness for distance learning on day 1 of school this fall:  the board needs to see and approve specific recommendations for hardware, software and tech help.

  • hardware - 
    • # of devices and cost it would take to get to 1:1 chromebooks grades 3-12 and ipads/tablets for preK-2.  
    • Devices & cost for the specialized needs of certain classes
      • such as Digital Academy that provides dual credit with DVC but requires Adobe that doesn't run on a chromebook
    • internet accessibility - how many mobile hotspots would it take to provide one to every homeless/foster/newcomer or student who was disconnected last spring?  When are the 600 ordered hotspots going to arrive and how will they be synched with chromebooks and then distributed out to students or schools?
  • software - 
    • Step 1: What LMS (Learning Management System) is recommended for MDUSD to adopt?
      • LMS integrates Google classroom, attendance, and all distance learning into one comprehensive resource for students, families teachers and administrators. Thus it organizes all the aspects into one place for access, monitoring and reporting, and should remove a lot of the disjointed confusion that was a reality in the spring (e.g. other districts use Schoology or Canvas)
      • Teachers, admin & staff should be trained on the LMS before school starts.
    • what apps/programs are teachers/schools using already, what else has been requested by them? 
      • which can be narrowed down to for more consistent usage and less confusion by parents/students.  
    • What is the cost of the ideal package solution?  the prioritized immediate needs?
  • tech help - 
    • what management software should be set up by August for our district to have a robust tech help system for teachers and multilingual for parents, accessible via email/text/phone.  
    • what staffing is necessary to make this work (vs current staffing levels)

At the board meeting I requested we schedule a special board workshop to cover this topic, to ensure that we as a board, district and our students and families know that we will have the infrastructure and technology support ready to begin distance learning Aug 13th.

Return to School – Thank you to all who gave feedback!  We must acknowledge the extreme burden on parents right now, especially those who must work outside the home and are struggling to ensure childcare and continued learning for their children. Even though we plan to begin with 100% remote learning, we must do all we can to help parents cope.  This is also why I prefer a phased in approach: start with 100% distance, and right away form tight partnerships with community childcare providers to refer our essential working families to.  Then as soon as it's feasible with healthcare precautions in place, begin to bring students onto campus in very small groups for extra support needs such as IEPs, counseling, study space or language support.  West Contra Costa calls this the "student support hub model." (aqui en espanol)  In phase 3 I would prioritize bringing in person learning to our youngest learners – preK-2 - who distance learning is especially challenging for at the age where they are just beginning to “learn how to be a student”.

This is an ever changing landscape, so please keep sharing your ideas and priorities with us.  Governor Newsom is expected to make an announcement tomorrow at noon about school re-opening as well.

Next Board meeting

The next MDUSD school board meeting is scheduled for July 27th. Find the agenda here - and look at the top of the agenda for how to make public comments via email or phone. Click here to access the Board Action Summaries.

Summer Resources

  • Urban Debate League: Some MDUSD students are participating in this free debate camp this week, learning about and discussing criminal justice.  Bay Area Urban Debate League's mission is "To make competitive policy debate available to every public high school student." They have also offered to partner with MDUSD Title I middle and high schools to potentially offer school year debate at those schools.  Watch their alumni Demo Debate here
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Happy Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth!

This message from Michelle Obama says so much about today:
"Most of us were taught that slavery came to an end when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But as is so often the case, the full promise of this country was delayed for segments of the African-American community. And for enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, freedom didn’t come until June 19, 1865.
And what I love about #Juneteenth is that even in that extended wait, we still find something to celebrate. Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress. I think of my own family’s journey. Both of my grandfathers were the grandchildren of enslaved people. They grew up in the Jim Crow South and migrated north in search of a better life. But even then, they were still shut out of jobs and schools and opportunities because of the color of their skin. But they pressed forward with dignity and with purpose, raising good kids, contributing to their communities, and voting in every election. And though they didn’t live to see it themselves, I can see the smiles on their faces knowing that their great-granddaughters ended up playing ball in the halls of the White House—a magnificent structure built by enslaved Americans.
All across the country, there are so many more parts to this story—the generations of families whose work and service and protest has led us forward, even if the promise we seek is often delayed. This Juneteenth, let’s all pledge to keep using our voices—and our votes—to keep that story marching forward for our own children, and theirs."

Here are some excellent events, actions and initiatives you can support in honor of this day:

  • Tomorrow on Saturday, June 20, 2pm, there is an online event co-hosted by MDUSD Parents for Multicultural Education: in honor of Juneteenth to hear speakers' personal stories and lived wisdom about celebrating Blackness, advocating for representation, and taking action to elevate Black history, culture, community and power. We welcome you; don't forget to register! Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87669316520

MDUSD Unanimously Approved Board Equity Policy and Resolution Condemning Racism

Did you know that on June 8th, MDUSD approvedResolution 19/20-68: Condemning Violence, Racism, and Injustice and Reaffirming Equity and Humanity as Central Guiding Principles and Equity Policy BP0415?

This was made possible by your support. In #Gratitude:
To the Mt. Diablo Unified School District students who spoke their truth and brainstormed solutions at that school board meeting,

To School Board President Brian Lawrence who created the space for those student voices and strongly supported placing two equity items on the agenda,

To the amazing principals, teachers, students and parents who wrote to us with their stories of the deep anti racist work they have been doing for years in our schools,

To Equity Director Jorge Melgoza and Communications Director Austin Breidenthal who spent hours with me drafting both a resolution to condemn racism and a new board equity policy,

To Willie James Mims of NAACP East County Branch who gave important feedback on the resolution and equity policy wording,

To Marcie Oliver Brown and Omega Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for endorsing the policy and partnering with MDUSD,

To my colleagues on our school board who all unanimously voted and spoke in support of both the resolution to condemn racism and the equity policy,

Thank you. This was an important first step in our district’s journey of dismantling the institutional racism that exists in our schools.

Each of you gives me hope that together we can and will do the hard work that it takes to truly ensure our black students, staff and families feel safe, welcome, respected, and supported to success in our education system.

Anti-racist Resources for Educators and Parents to move policy into action

So how will we enact those important policies?  One immediate way is in planning for the fall opening of school. Another is in the specifics of how teachers act within their classrooms.  Here are two resources to get started.

  • Equity Guidance for Schools - Are you giving input to the MDUSD task forces for fall planning? Check out this excellent resource for specific tools to use an Equity Lens in that process!

    It is chock full of actionable ready to use tools & samples including:
    - scheduling for equity
    - how to facilitate courageous conversations
    - SEL through a race equity lens with strategies for system leaders to take action
    - culturally responsive distance learning strategies for educators
    - Equity data walk for community
    - two way multilingual communication
    - planning protocols for supporting students with disabilities
    And much more.

  • "What anti-racist teachers do differently" - an Atlantic article

School Board meeting June 22nd 

Here is the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting. This agenda includes a draft of the 2020-21 MDUSD budget, a Public Hearing and Adoption of the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Plan and Annual Budget, renewal contracts for iReady and AVID, and more.

At the top of the agenda it shows how to submit a public comment. You don’t need to wait until the live meeting.  (I recommend submitting before 3pm on Monday) Either:

  • send an email at BoardComments@mdusd.org - all email messages are received by all board members, and recorded on the board action summaries for that meeting, or
  • leave a voicemail message at (801) 228-0093 - all voicemails are played live during the meeting

Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes for all board agendas, videos, and action summaries.

Find the MDUSD Friday letter June 12th here, which included details on Task Forces, Equity, and Campus Safety Hotline.

 

Enjoy #Juneteenth celebrations, and stay safe and masked out there!

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2020 graduation

Congratulations to all of our MDUSD 2020 graduates! Despite the extreme challenges of fires and worldwide pandemic, you have made it!  And this experience gives you a unique perspective to create a safer, healthier world for all.  I was honored to attend and record a speech for both the YV High and Olympic High ceremonies, and it was such pure joy to see the smiles and whoops of triumph from graduates and their families.

  

This week we also held our first ever raising of the Pride flag at the Mt Diablo Unified School District office, and the flag will fly for the month of June.  Thank you to my fellow board members for allowing me the honor of raising it with YV High’s GSA president Bianca Solomon. As a board we all wholeheartedly supported this resolution with a 5-0 vote on May 28th.

  

In the meantime, the business of the school district marches on. I hope that you have seen the two key messages this week from the Superintendent’s Office:

  1. MDUSD Takes a Stand for Equity – this includes 2 action items the Board will vote on at our June 8th board meeting:
  2. Friday letter – this includes photos from the raising of the Pride flag along with this link to LGBTQIA+ & gender identity services, as well as information about free summer meals, how to join task forces for fall planning, and more.

School Board meeting June 8th

Here is the agenda for tomorrow’s school board meeting. This agenda includes a vote on the Equity resolution and board policy mentioned above, a vote on the PARS retirement plan, a presentation on the task force planning for fall, and more.

At the top of the agenda it shows how to submit a public comment. You don’t need to wait until the live meeting.  (I recommend submitting before 4pm on Monday) Either:

  • send an email at BoardComments@mdusd.org - all email messages are received by all board members, and recorded on the board action summaries for that meeting, or
  • leave a voicemail message at (801) 228-0093 - all voicemails are played live during the meeting

Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes for all board agendas, videos, and action summaries.

Happy summer and stay safe, everyone!

 

 

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Racial Equity in MDUSD

On this #BlackoutTuesday we recognize the urgent need for justice in particular for African Americans in our country.  The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent examples of the horrific violence that people of color experience, here in the “land of the free”.  All of us must become a part of the solution to end the violence and hatred. 

In times like this, I reflect on how to hold myself accountable for actions and not just talk. I have requested this Equity Board Policy be added to our school board agenda for the June 8th meeting, and district staff are preparing additional actions.  My family is holding a bookclub & discussion today on the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. There is so much more to do.

I want to take a minute here though to elevate the voices and actions of some of our MDUSD principals, parents and teachers:

  1. From Principal Moss, ShoreAcres Elementary School:
  2. From Principal DeMartini of El Monte Elementary School: “Our @elmontebulldogs staff compiled a list of resources for talking to kids about racism. Please feel free to use them with your students or children (and give us feedback on what we can add)” 
  3. From teacher Bryan Shaw, YV High: “I’ve had a lot of @YgnacioValley students email me or DM about what’s going on in our nation today. You should sign up for our ethnic studies course. This is our curriculum. You’ll love it. I’d be honored if you signed up.”
  4. From MDUSD Parents for Multicultural Education: If you have a child (or teach children) aged 4-9 we highly recommend the children's book Something Happened in Our Town. It's a story about racial injustice that covers a lot in less than 40 pages. It was published by the American Psychological Association in 2018 and covers police shootings from the perspective of a White family and an African American family.

For educators:

And for students:

Please keep sharing YOUR ideas for actions that we all can take to truly create schools and communities that are safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all.

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Classified Employees Week 2020

Happy Classified Employee Appreciation Week! 

Many thanks to all of our hardworking classified employees who ensure students are fed, safe, and cared for every day through thick and thin.  You are our heroes!  An extra special shout out to Denise Ingham, who keeps excellent track of CSEA employees records to be able to truly support every single member of CSEA Mt Diablo 43.

News & helpful links:

  1. MDUSD School Board special meeting today
  2. SF Jazz for middle school students – starting today 4pm!
  3. Student Leader Academy by Ed100 statewide – FREE apply by June 6
  4. Immediate Resources
    1. P-EBT Groceries Assistance English/Spanish
    2. Disaster Relief Fund for Undocumented Californians / El Proyecto de Asistencia para Inmigrantes
    3. CA Immigrant guide / Bienvenido a la Guia Del Inmigrante

Special School Board meeting May 20th

There is a special school board meeting scheduled for today at 3pm.  It is mainly a closed session for Superintendent Evaluation.  Before it there will be an open meeting has just one agenda item on it, with approvals for the Pleasant Hill library project.  That will be followed by the closed session meeting and brief report out.  Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes for all board agendas, links & videos.

SF Jazz Middle School Opportunity

SFJAZZ is proud to share a new webinar series that will give you a glimpse of what our Teaching Artists bring to our students in the Jazz in the Middle classroom. "The Breakdown" is a new webinar series that will feature select poets and musicians in conversation with our Director of Education, Rebeca Mauleón. These artists will delve into various topics related to our in-school curriculum and will perform live, demonstrating aspects of their craft in order to shed light on the topics of each lesson. Join us this Wednesday for our opening class - "From Jazz to Hip-Hop: Improvisation and Freestyling."  There will be an opportunity for Q&A during the webinar, as well as activities provided that will help you continue exploring these topics on your own! Registration information is linked below, we hope to see you there!

~Lyle Link, SFJAZZ Lead Teaching Artist

The Breakdown

From Jazz to Hip-Hop: Improvisation and Freestyling w/ Tammy Hall, Lyle Link, and Dan Wolf

Date: Wed, May 20, 2020

Time: 4-4:30PM

For: Middle school students, educators, and anyone interested in learning!

Format: This interactive webinar will be moderated by our Director of Education Rebeca Mauleón and will feature Jazz in the Middle Teaching Artists Tammy Hall (piano), Lyle Link (saxophone), and Dan Wolf (hip-hop artist).

REGISTER HERE

Student Free Leadership Opportunity

Announcing the Ed100 Online Summer Academy for California Student Leaders

Anunciando la Academia de verano en línea de Ed100 para líderes estudiantiles de California

Student Leaders: Apply by June 6. It's Free!

California's student leaders are essential — this year more than ever. So, it's time for something new: an online conference that prepares California high school student leaders with the knowledge and connections they need to make a difference. Free to apply. Free to attend.

Apply now and mark your calendar: July 20-23. We invite California's high school student leaders to join together at the Ed100 Online Academy for Student Leaders, a new virtual conference for students who in the coming school year will be serving:

  • on a school site council or ELAC
  • on their school board,
  • on a PTA board or nonprofit school organization
  • in other student led or student-focused organizations

Like Ed100.org, this conference is free. There is no cost to apply and there will be no cost to participate. Students who aren't yet in these roles but aspire to them may also apply.

Immediate Resources

  • P-EBT Food Assistance

Due to coronavirus (COVID 19), children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school can get extra food benefits. These food benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT benefits. Information here: English/Spanish

  • Disaster Relief Fund for Undocumented Californians / El Proyecto de Asistencia para Inmigrantes

CA is providing a one-time disaster relief assistance for undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19, who are ineligible for most other forms of pandemic assistance, including direct assistance under the CARES Act and unemployment insurance.

Call ASAP to receive this help. It is given out starting May 18 until it runs out.

 Un adulto indocumentado que califica puede recibir $500 en asistencia directa, con un máximo de $1000 en asistencia por hogar. 

Solicitudes aceptadas por teléfono solo en 415-324-1011 para condado de contra costa. https://www.cceb.org/el-proyecto-de-asistencia-para-inmigrantes-afectados-por-la-pandemia-de-la-covid-19-drai/

 An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household. 

Applications accepted by phone only at 415-324-1011 for Contra Costa County. https://www.cceb.org/california-disaster-relief-assistance-for-immigrants-drai/

  • Guide for Immigrant Californians

The Guide for Immigrant Californians (PDF) will help you stay safe and informed. 

 The guide includes:

  • Stay-at-home order considerations
  • Ways to protect yourself and others 
  • Immigration help
  • Public charge information for accessing public benefits
  • Testing and treatment
  • Information on jobs, wages, and benefits 
  • Small business support
  • Housing 
  • Food and bills 
  • Community safety
  • Protection against scams and bad information 

Immigrant guide in: SpanishChinese traditionalChinese simplifiedKoreanTagalog, and Vietnamese

  • Guía para inmigrantes en California

La Guía para inmigrantes en California lo mantendrá informado y a salvo. 

 La guía incluye:

  • Consideraciones de la orden de permanecer en casa
  • Formas de protegerse a usted y a los demás 
  • Ayuda migratoria
  • Información sobre la carga pública para acceder a beneficios públicos
  • Pruebas y tratamiento
  • Información sobre empleos, salarios y beneficios 
  • Apoyo a pequeñas empresas
  • Vivienda 
  • Alimentos y facturas 
  • Seguridad comunitaria
  • Protección contra estafas e información incorrecta 

Contra Costa COVID19 Resources for Undocumented Immigrants

 

P.s. Sharing this excellent wellness page from YVHS. Be well everyone: https://sites.google.com/view/yvhswellnesscenter

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Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, and “may the 4th be with you”!

These are really tough times, and thank goodness that our teachers are even tougher.  The energy, creativity, ability to pivot to learn and teach in new ways quickly... I'm inspired by so many of our amazing teachers in MDUSD.  May you all stay healthy and safe through this pandemic.

One creative effort to break through barriers and get students connected now, was today's launch of the MDUSD Parking Lot Wifi plan, as described here in the Superintendent’s Friday Letter.

MDUSD Hosts 10 Wireless Internet Parking Lot Hot-Spots

Our passion and commitment is to serve you, and even in our five final weeks of the school year, we are pushing to increasingly meet the needs of our community—sometimes in creative ways. Please see our Parking Lot Wireless web page, which details our provision of internet at 10 school site parking lots district-wide. We are grateful to our diligent Technology and Information Services staff for these arrangements in addition to the thousands of devices distributed and affordable internet options secured. Any Mt. Diablo Unified School District device should be able to connect to the internet at these locations. While we ask that you maintain social and physical distance while doing so, we hope that more students are able to connect to their distance learning platforms.

His Superintendent’s Letter is chock full of important information, including about:

  • Teachers of the Year
  • School start dates
  • MDEA Academy Awards event Thursday May 7th
  • Budget challenges
  • Town Hall Tuesday May 5th 

And here are key announcements & resources I'd like to highlight:

  1. How to Get Involved this Week
  2. Teachers of the Year
  3. Next School Board meeting May 11th
  4. Updated resources for Food, Remote Learning, College Access

How to Get Involved this Week

There are 4 key ways you can engage with MDUSD this week: Town Hall Tuesday, PAC mtg Wednesday, MDEA Academy Awards Celebration Thursday, and Equity meeting Friday.

  • Town Hall at 3pm Tuesday will include details about special education services, graduation, & community resources. Zoom link here.
  • PAC meeting on Wednesday at 3pm is the Parent Advisory Committee, where usually at least one parent per school attends and reports back to their school.
    • Two specific questions staff would like to ask our school community to consider prior to our meeting: What areas need more focus and/or attention in the MDUSD distance learning environment? How can the District best support you as you strive to support your children during this time of crisis? The link to the virtual meetings to be access through a phone or computer will be emailed the morning of May 6th. Contact Jennifer Sachs with any questions at sachsj@mdusd.org.
  • Celebrate at the MDEA 2020 Academy Awards! Thursday May 7th at 6pm. Congratulations to all MDEA 2020 Academy Awards nominees! This is an uplifting event that brings people together from across MDUSD to celebrate excellence. Don’t miss it!
  • Equity Committee is meeting Friday 3-4:30pm. Contact Antonio Arguelles at arguellesa@mdusd.org for details, agenda, and zoom link.

Teachers of the Year

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is pleased to announce the five finalists for Teacher of the Year are:

  • Dylan Bland– College Park High School, Selected MDUSD Teacher of the Year
  • Beth Bremer– Wren Elementary, Selected MDUSD Teacher of the Year
  • Tannaz Heaney– Finalist, Sequoia Elementary
  • Laura Wilson– Finalist, Pleasant Hill Middle School
  • Kathleen Strange– Finalist, College Park High School

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District will honor these recipients at the Regular Governing Board meeting to be held on May 11, 2020!

And here is a beautiful tribute to both selected Teachers of the Year, written by MDUSD teacher Emily Andrews:

  

CONGRATULATIONS to two INCREDIBLE teachers who pour their heart and soul into the profession and have been selected as Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s 2020 Teachers of the Year! We are so proud of you, Beth Miller Bremer and Dylan Bland!!!

What an accomplishment—our district has over 50 schools, it is one of the largest districts in the state of California, and we serve 36,000 students! Let’s learn a little bit about these two fabulous educators:

Beth Miller Bremer is a first grade teacher at Wren Avenue Elementary: School of the Arts and has been teaching in MDUSD for 10 years. She’s also a teacher liaison with the CARES after-school program and is the school’s webmaster. This is actually Beth’s second career—her first being in technology for a financial institution. Throughout her teaching career, Beth has led or participated in a number of projects. Yet, her greatest contribution to the profession is in the relationships she has built with her students and their families, her colleagues, and the community. Beth feels fortunate to have worked with so many talented and compassionate educators, as well as community members who are strong advocates for education. Their relationships and collaborative efforts toward common goals in education are enriching and give Beth hope and encouragement for the future.

Dylan Bland has taught science at College Park High School for 6 years. He teaches Biomedical Science, Biology: The Living Earth, and Earth Science. Dylan wouldn't be where he is today without the support of his insightful MDUSD colleagues, as every person he has worked with has brought their own unique expertise, knowledge, and professionalism to the table as educators. The part that Dylan loves most about his job is giving students the tools they need to take their natural curiosity to investigate science in a hands-on, inquiry-based way. He likes to keep his students active in the classroom, and put the learning in their hands. Dylan’s goal is to have his students leave his class as more scientifically literate citizens, and for them to take what they learn and apply it to the world around them.

Dylan and Beth will be addressing our MDUSD community on Thursday, May 7th at the eighth annual MDEA Academy Awards night virtually via WEBEX. They will also be honored by our Superintendent, Dr. Rob Martinez, and Board Members at the Governing Board Meeting on May 11th.

 

Next School Board meeting May 11th

The meeting will be livestreamed as usual. Public comments may be submitted by voicemail at (801) 228-0093 or by email at BoardComments@mdusd.org. Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes for all board agendas, links & videos.

New Resources

I always like to share whatever new resources I’ve come across.  Here are the latest:  

  1. Food
    • MDUSD
    • Monument Crisis Center
  2. Remote Learning
    • Coco Students Helping Students
    • En Espanol – YouTube channel by teacher Blanca Vega from ShoreAcres
    • Spanish/English family how-to videos
  3. College Fairs & AP Tests
    • Black College Expo May 8th, 10am-3:30pm
    • The *free* NAVIGATE 2020 Virtual Conference & College Fair May 4-6
    • AP Test free online classes, timing, test features

FOOD

MDUSD Meals – now Mon/Wed/Fri through June 3rd.

    

 Monument Crisis Center – food for all

 

Remote Learning

Coco Students Helping Students

This program matches up successful local teens to mentor any struggling students 1:1. They now have about 140 students participating! If you know of a student who could use support or a teen who wants to mentor, please email Rosie Reid at reidr@mdusd.org. They’re especially seeking more bilingual mentors!

YouTube Tutorials En Espanol, from MDUSD ShoreAcres Teacher Blanca Vega

Remember her Zoom tutorial in Spanish?  Now Ms Vega has even more helpful Spanish language videos about google classroom and reading bilingual books at her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2xqVmcs_FvvmzOD9YignTQ  

Spanish/English How-To Videos Chromebooks & Hotspots

From the CDE Digital Divide conversation - “My son made a youtube channel for our school with videos explaining how to set up a wifi hotspot and how to use the chromebooks we distributed as well as a number of other topics (in Spanish and English). Please feel free to share the channel with your students.” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQ4E6eWO0dKVtJs6Ja2pQQ

College Fairs & AP Tests

Virtual College Fair May 4-6

The *free* NAVIGATE 2020 Virtual Conference & College Fair will host three days of livestreamed expert presentations for students and families and a #college fair with interactive booths. Learn more and register here: https://bit.ly/3bJq2RS

Black College Expo May 8, 10am-3:30pm

AP Test Info

The College Board has answers to all your questions here https://apcoronavirusupdates.collegeboard.org/  including:

Exam Features

To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.

Like many college-level exams, this year's AP Exams will be open book/open note. 

Students will be able to take exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. They'll be able to either type and upload their responses or write responses by hand and submit a photo via their cell phone.

Exam Timing

  • Exams will be given May 11–22. Each subject's exam will be taken on the same day at the same time, worldwide.

  • Makeup test dates will be available for each subject June 1–5.

  • Students can take the exam at home or in schools, if they reopen.

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Earth Day week

Happy Earth Day week!

This is a week of contemplation, both for how we can better protect our earth, but also how we can create a community that truly takes care of everyone.  Ramadan Mubarak to those who celebrate - and fast - to understand hunger and remember our responsibilities to help anyone who is hungry or in need.

As you can read in the Superintendent's April 24th letter, MDUSD continues to build even more partnerships to ensure students & families are fed, at approximately 42,000 meals per week!  The latest partnership is with County Connection buses that are driving meals from Bel Air Elementary out to families throughout Bay Point who cannot get to the site.  That is equity focus in action.

And thank you to all who donated so far to the MDEDF Coronavirus Remote Learning Fund, which has raised $27,000 to date. Every dollar helps ensure every student has all technology needed to access remote learning now and in the future.

You'll find in this blog:

  1. Next School Board meeting - Monday, April 27
  2. WAVE Internet First offer
  3. Resources - equity & homelessness
  4. Highlights of the Week

Next School Board meeting - Monday, April 27th

The next School Board meeting is scheduled for this Monday, April 27th. Closed Session will begin at 5:00PM virtually.

Public comments received on Monday, 04/27/2020 by voicemail at (801) 228-0093 or by email at BoardComments@mdusd.org will be entered into the public record.

Open Session will begin at 7:00PM virtually. View broadcast information at mdusd.org/agendasminutes Minutes will be subsequently published to mdusd.org/boardactions

Agenda is available here. It is a very full agenda, including

WAVE Internet First Offer:

WAVE has launched their free internet offer for low-income families, and they've assured me this will also be in Spanish by next week.  It appears to have fewer barriers to families than other offers out there, as they require no contract, no credit card, no installation fees, and the first 60 days are free.  After that it's $9.95 per month.  

https://www.internetfirst.com/

Please let me know if this or any of the offers at everyoneon.org are working to get any of our MDUSD families connected.

Resources - equity & homeless services:

Highlights of the Week:

Congratulations to Mrs. Angela Beatty at ShoreAcres for winning student supplies for your class from DonorsChoose #KeepKidsLearning!

  

It has been such a joy to see our teachers focused on ensuring quality distance learning that includes hands-on, offline, student led inquiry, like these Ocean Ambassador projects from Pleasant Hill Middle School.  Keep up the creativity, and Happy Earth Day!

   

And this drawbridge was built by a ShoreAcres 1st grader!  

Here at home with my family, we continue to seek out inspiration and peace in nature, and hope that you are finding that too.

  

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April 2020

Hi everyone,

I hope that you are staying safe and healthy during this challenging time. Happy Dolores Huerta Day!  Today is her 90th birthday, the California organizer who coined the phrase "Si Se Puede".  We honor her as we work together for health & education for all!  Check out her Foundation and curriculum here.

MDUSD continues to work hard to provide essential services.  Did you see in the superintendent’s April 9th letter that the district’s Food and Nutrition Services Department has served over 41,600 meals in just sixteen days of operation? Plus they are now also working to provide over 80 meals each day to senior citizens in our community, through a partnership with the City of Concord and Meals on Wheels.

And, as a District we have deployed over 5,000 devices to students. One measurement indicated that we have had close to 25,000 connections that have been made to our Google classrooms within a short amount of time.  I’m so thankful for all the staff and teachers who have been working nonstop in this unprecedented time!

Here are 3 key announcements from MDUSD:

  1. School campuses closed through end of school year
  2. Next School Board meeting - Monday, April 13
  3. Watch the MDUSD Town Halls

School campuses closed through end of school year

On April 7, 2020, Superintendent Dr. Rob Martinez communicated to the public confirming school closure for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year in conjunction with joint action from six bay area counties. The full message is available here.

Next School Board meeting - Monday, April 13

The next School Board meeting is scheduled for this Monday, April 13th. The meeting will be livestreamed to the public here: https://vimeo.com/405941539. The public may submit verbal information during Board Meeting hours by email at boardcomments@mdusd.org.

Agenda is available here. It is a very full agenda, including information about Distance Learning, Board policy revisions for grades and promotion, and reductions to Classified employees for the 2020-21 school year.

Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes for all board agendas & videos.

Did you watch the MDUSD Town Halls? 

This is a new format to share important details from the district to the community. Watch the first two at http://mdusd.org/townhall, and that’s also where to look for the next one to tune in and participate.   The second Town Hall included translation into Spanish as well.

Also in this message I’ve collected some additional resources for you here:

  1. Food
    • MDUSD
    • Monument Crisis Center
  2. Remote Learning
    • Coco Students Helping Students
    • Where to find free internet & cell data – CDE complete list
    • En Espanol – Zoom tutorial by teacher Blanca Vega from ShoreAcres
    • Yours Humanly Distance Learning tools & content
  3. Community Resources
    • Monument Impact Resource Guide in English y Espanol
    • Are you storing your guns safely?
    • Career Girls - epidemiologist
    • Crisis Help Lines

1. FOOD

MDUSD Meals – now Mon/Wed/Fri

   

 Monument Crisis Center – food for all

 

2. REMOTE LEARNING

In addition to the MDUSD Parent Portal, Staff Portal and CDE resources, here are a few additional gems:

  • CoCo Students Helping Students

Did you know MDUSD students are taking a leadership role in remote learning? 

Here’s a message from Rosie Reid, an MDUSD teacher at Northgate High who was also National Teacher of the Year:

“The school closures caused by COVID-19 have been quite a challenge for so many of us. For some, this challenge has been dealing with feelings of isolation and sadness. Others have struggled with maintaining a sense of normalcy and motivation. Many are having a hard time learning on their own and keeping up with their schoolwork. To remedy this, I have set up a free student-to-student mentoring match-up program. How it works is simple: Students who want to mentor/tutor other kids email me and tell me what classes they have taken and gotten at least a “B” in. Students (or parents of students) who need help or want to connect email me and I match them up. From there, they schedule appointments that meet both of their needs. Some mentor/mentee pairs meet daily, others every other day, and others a couple of times a week via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or phone. Currently, we have 60 student pairs with students from several school districts participating at the elementary, middle, and high school level. If you know of a teen who could use support or a teen who wants to mentor, please email me at reidr@mdusd.org. “ -- Rosie Reid, Northgate High School

  • Where to Find Free Internet & Data

Here is a comprehensive list that will be updated, from CA Dept of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/availableinternetplans.asp

  • En Espanol, Zoom Tutorial de MDUSD ShoreAcres Teacher Blanca Vega

Buenas tardes! Para aquellos que quieran practicar cómo meterse a una videoconferencia en zoom, aqui está un titorian que hice en español. Muy sencillo, solo para poder entrar! Pueden encontrarlo también en mi canal de YouTube https://youtu.be/AhxnpiYGZDM   @MtDiabloUSD @ShoreAcresMDUSD

  • Yours Humanly Distance Learning List of Tools & Content

“Our relationships with aid organizations, government agencies, school districts, teacher associations, and parent clubs have allowed us to compile a far reaching list of tools and resources that will help our communities cope with the unprecedented challenges and overcome the major obstacles we are facing.

Our hope is to curate some of the best ideas, strategies, reports, and online resources for the benefit of all, presented in one easy-to-navigate space. This initial resource list focuses on distance learning and strategies in light of shelter in place and social distancing.

 https://yourshumanly.org/tools-and-resources/

3. Community Resources

  • Monument Impact Resource Guide in English y Espanol

They created a resource guide that organizes the available services and resources in Contra Costa county, from food distribution programs to unemployment insurance. Updated daily!

English: http://bit.ly/ResourcesCoCo  Spanish: http://bit.ly/RecursosCoCo

  • Safe Gun Storage

Thank you to Mt Diablo Chapter of Moms Demand Action, for bringing this to our attention.  Did you know that in California, it is a crime for a person to negligently store or leave a loaded firearm in a place where a child is likely to access it.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond stated in a recent letter“District and school administrators must help educate parents and guardians about California’s child access prevention laws; it is a crime for a person to negligently store or leave a loaded firearm in a place where a child is likely to access it.”

Child access to guns and actual or potential gun violence is occurring in our immediate community.  In January, a neighboring high school, Las Lomas experienced a lockdown when an at-risk student brought a loaded gun to school with alleged intent to harm himself or others.   An Antioch High School student was shot and killed this year after a school sporting event.    More recently, gun sales amid the Corona virus outbreak have spiked.  According to Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, "This spike in gun sales is deeply concerning, particularly for the millions of children unexpectedly at home with unsecured guns, women sheltering in place with abusers, and anyone struggling economically and psychologically."

The following national, state and regional organizations advocate for education on gun violence prevention:

American Academy of Pediatrics                                 American Federation of Teachers

California Attorney General                                          California Department of Education 

Contra Costa County Probation Dept.                          Contra Costa County Dept of Education

Contra Costa County District Attorney                         National Education Association

National PTA

  • Career Girls

Career Girls is founded on the dream that every girl around the world has access to diverse and accomplished women role models — to learn from their experiences and to discover their own path to empowerment. CareerGirls.org is a comprehensive video-based career exploration tool for girls. It’s free to use, and, as important, it's free of ads. They have the largest online collection of career guidance videos focusing exclusively on diverse and accomplished women — over 130 of whom are in STEM fields — and add to it weekly.

Their Epidemiologist Career Page can encourage the next generation of disease detectives. Also, consider sharing their free Career Girls Toolkits with the parents, educators and mentors you know who need help keeping their kids engaged during this social distancing, shelter at home period.

  • Crisis Help Lines

Crisis Text Line Text MHA to 741741 and be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line provides free, text-based support 24/7

Disaster Health Helpline Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) provides crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S. experiencing distress or other behavioral health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including public health emergencies

Teen Line Call (310) 855-4673 or Text TEEN to 839863 to be connected to peers to offer support and education

Trevor Project Call (866) 488 -7386 or text START to 678678. A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth

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Cesar Chavez Day & MDUSD Town Hall March 31st

Hi everyone,

Happy César Chávez Day celebration week!

(the official date in CA is March 31st, and MDUSD observes it on Friday April 3rd)

Thank you to all of the #Heroes out there who, like Chavez did, are working hard every day to make sure every person is treated with dignity and has access to adequate food, healthcare and education. Sí se puede!

MDUSD’s next Town Hall is tomorrow, March 31st, at 3pm. Just go to mdusd.org/townhall to watch or participate.  Hope you can make it!  If not, you can watch the recording later, as with last week's.

In this message:

  1. Superintendent Friday Letter
  2. Monument Crisis Center – how to donate or receive food
  3. MYDAC update on vaping, smoking information & resources
  4. College Board Scholarships & free SAT practice
  5. MDUSD Spirit Week

Superintendent Martinez’s Friday Letter

Here is Superintendent Martinez's March 27th Friday letter, which includes that Town Hall as well as the news that on March 25th, six bay area counties (including ours) and public health officials have made a unified, regional decision to extend school closures through May 1, 2020

Plus a few key excerpts:

  • This week MDUSD’s free community meals continue at 9 school sites district-wide for all children 18 years and younger. Please see the attached flyers for a list of locations and details: English Flyer | Spanish Flyer " 

**Also note: There is no meal service this Friday (it is the day MDUSD observes Cesar Chavez Day), and so instead double meals will be given out on Thursday.**

  • More Internet Access Opportunities: Because access to affordable home internet options for our families is highly critical, we are proud of a newly formed partnership with EveryoneOn through the California Emerging Technology Fund. Flyers that are specific to MDUSD are available here in English and in Spanish.

Monument Crisis Center – how to donate or receive food

In addition to MDUSD meals in partnership with Contra Costa Food Bank, the Monument Crisis Center has been a key part of the solution for families right now.  Please consider making a donation.

    

From MYDAC – Monument Youth Drug & Alcohol Coalition

“I'm writing today to share some resources with you. I hope these materials will serve you well while reassuring you that it's okay to seek help and assist you in taking care of yourself and your loved ones. We're in this together.  

  • Self-care.During this time, we're putting in a lot of effort to help those in need—but we also need to make sure to take care of ourselves. See CDC guide on other resources on  Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19
  • Stop vaping. With schools closed due to the COVID-19 national emergency, millions of children and teens are spending a lot of time isolated from friends and extended family. This is an excellent opportunity  for parents to talk with their kids about vapingand to encourage them to stop vaping
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.The stress and anxiety which comes from the coronavirus pandemic, financial insecurity, and feelings of isolation may put people at risk of self-harm. If you're feeling alone and struggling, you can reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALKto 741741 or CALL the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

Plus I want to share with you this important information about coronavirus & vaping:

In case you aren't, please follow us on Facebook and join our Mt. Diablo Community Against Vaping Facebook Group.

Sincerely,

Laura Custodio

Monument Youth Drug & Alcohol Coalition Coordinator”

College Board Scholarships & Free SAT help

High school students, there are now more free opportunities than ever before for you online from your phone or device.

Follow The College Board on Twitter or Instagram to see their new scholarships you can earn by practicing for the SAT and more!

MDUSD Spirit Week

Lastly, help your students keep their spirits up this week with these daily activities created by wonderful MDUSD teachers! Post & share photos on whichever way is easiest for you, that your school is using, such as Class Dojo, Google Classroom, or Twitter:

Keep up your social distancing, and together we'll flatten the curve. 

Students/parents - remember to call or email your teachers, counselors or school site - they miss you and want to help!

 

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