Outdoor Learning and ReOpening of Schools

Happy Women's History and Arts Education Month!

Many have also recently celebrated Lunar New Year, and I want to thank the over 70 caring MDUSD teachers, staff and community members who signed this letter to us with a statement condemning racist and violent actions against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). President Biden’s administration acknowledged the dramatic spike in anti-Asian incidents occurring throughout the country during the pandemic, and said "inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric...has put Asian American and Pacific Islander persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk." 

Our MDUSD students and staff deserve to learn and work in a community and world that is free of racism, discrimination, and violence. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their neighborhoods and communities. We stand firm on ensuring equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist policies and practices in our school district.  All are welcome to join the new Anti Bias Anti Racism (ABAR) committee that launched last week to design ways to move our Equity Board Policy into practice. Email [email protected] to attend their next meeting on March 25th.

Read on for:

  1. School Board work towards reopening
  2. School Board meeting Wednesday March 10th
  3. Superintendent’s Friday letter March 5th
  4. Outdoor Learning Resources
  5. Congratulations Olympic High!

School Board Work Towards ReOpening

It’s been a busy and productive past few months on the Mt Diablo school board, working diligently and carefully towards safe school site reopening. We have:

  • approved Dr Clark’s reopening timeline aiming for mid March (county health had estimated mid-March as Red Tier for contra costa), including the parent survey that provided each principal now with a specific list of students to plan for in-person on site,
  • approved the Reconnect Safely, Return Strong plan,
  • approved the CSP (COVID safety plan) which includes the CPP and checklist and is due 5 days before reopening (State has approved),
  • approved free COVID testing for staff at MDUSD sites via agreements with 2 companies,
  • clearly stated the Board is unanimous that we will follow county & state metrics for hybrid,
  • set 5 negotiating days with MDEA focused on the schedule & logistics of hybrid,
  • stated we are ready to call a special board mtg within 24hrs of a hybrid MOU agreement.

In the meantime we have also been advocating for vaccines. MDUSD partnered with County Health to open a vaccine site at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point, and now with Walgreens to bring 500 J&J vaccines this week specifically for MDUSD staff. (**sign up here for J&J by 5pm March 8th)  

Board members have hosted a town hall in Spanish to be more accessible to those families, and held Q&A at parent meetings throughout the district.

We are also visiting sites to see health & safety readiness. **Thank you to amazing principals, office managers, teachers, & staff working to ensure spaces & systems are ready for students, all the while continuing to provide distance learning.**


Plus on March 5th Governor Newsom signed State Bill 86, which provides financial resources and incentives for public schools to open by April 1.

This Wednesday we will consider Dr Clark’s proposed timeline to begin to gradually bring students onto campuses starting March 22nd.

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday March 10th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Key items on the agenda include:

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s March 5th letter, full of information including: 

Outdoor Learning Resources

Repurposing outdoor spaces is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.

Are you interested in exploring how to use outdoor spaces for learning at your school?

The COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative provides free strategies and case studies to the public at: https://www.greenschoolyards.org/covid-learn-outside  It doesn't have to be complicated. Here is their list of simple ways to consider which activities teachers can bring outdoors, along with basic supplies. Who else remembers Girl Scout situpons - using recycled materials to make insulated, waterproof outdoor seating?

Did you know that MDUSD has many outdoor learning spaces already on our campuses that are ready to use?  Thanks to grant funding, many of our schools already have outdoor garden spaces and garden educators who provide hands-on science. (e.g. Sun Terrace Elementary has 3 outdoor garden areas and rolling white boards that teachers can use.)  You can follow the MDUSD Science & Garden Education Program on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MDUSDGardenEducation/

Congratulations Olympic High!

Mt Diablo’s Olympic High School was recognized by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond as one of the Model Continuation High Schools (MCHS) in the state of California for 2021!  This is thanks to the strong leadership of Principal Lynsie Castellano, and the hard work of her amazing teachers and staff.

“Student attendance and engagement in distance learning during the school closures has been difficult—especially for students who struggled with attendance issues before the pandemic,” said Thurmond. “These model schools have been able to keep at-risk students on track using social and emotional learning, mentorship programs, restorative justice practices, and other innovative methods. Through the work of dedicated teachers and administrators, model continuation schools provide the students they serve with new academic opportunities that can change the course of their lives in high school and beyond.”

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Cherise Khaund
    published this page in Blog 2021-03-08 11:32:32 -0800