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November 06, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 23
Posted 11/6/20

 

 

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NOVEMBER 06, 2020 FRIDAY LETTER VOLUME 2, NO. 23



MDUSD's Friday Letter—updates and stories prepared weekly for the school district community.


Erin McFerrin and Keisha Nzewi Win MDUSD Board Seats

     The 2020 United States election will also bring changes for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. On Wednesday morning, our district announced on social media, "Our communities decided—the votes have been tallied—Erin McFerrin and Keisha Nzewi have achieved victory in their campaigns for MDUSD Governing Board trustee areas 5 and 3 respectively. Congratulations and a warm welcome to both!"

     A warm welcome they received, as many community members chimed in with congratulations and well-wishes.
     In response to the announcement, Keisha Nzewi commented, "I'm honored for the opportunity. Thank you! Erin McFerrin and I are ready to get to work!" 
     Erin McFerrin had this to say: "Thank you, MDUSD! I look forward to working with and for you. Congratulations, Keisha!"

     On December 14, Erin McFerrin and Keisha Nzewi will be sworn into office, replacing current trustees Brian Lawrence and Joanne Durkee, both of whom had not sought reelection. This is the first election cycle for MDUSD in which board candidates were elected by voters in specific areas instead of voters at-large. 

     Here were the semi-official results for each area:

  • Area 3: Keisha Nzewi 55.37%  | Michael Schneider 34.60% | Dennis Chow 10.03%
  • Area 5: Erin McFerrin 69.75%%, | Carol Trost 30.25%

     Our community will have the chance to get to know the new trustees in the coming weeks. The transition of governing board leadership is expected to be smooth and comes at a time when district families and staff are most interested in defining the specifics of educational options amidst the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.     See more local election results.


Superintendent Floats Detailed Hybrid Schedule Drafts for Review

     We want our families to know the same important information that Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark sent to staff just this morning:

     "At the October 26 Governing Board meeting, a date was approved to begin phasing students back onto our campuses using a hybrid learning model. Included in my recommendation to the Board was a vague and generic sample hybrid schedule. I received many emails and messages from parents, students and staff requesting a more detailed draft schedule. Also, included in these messages were pleas to keep current teacher and school assignments. After receiving these messages loud and clear, I am providing an elementary draft schedule and secondary draft schedule.

     Hybrid Schedule for Elementary (Draft) | Hybrid Schedule for Secondary (Draft)

     It must be noted that these are challenging times and anxiety levels are running high throughout our community of stakeholders. I will schedule employee town halls through Zoom to hear directly from any of you who would like to have a conversation. Unfortunately, factual information often gets lost in translation. With that said, I am happy to speak with any employee groups.

     All public schools in Contra Costa County were eligible to reopen on October 13, 2020. The MDUSD reopening plan targets January 11, 2021 as the date we start bringing back small groups of students. Our Governing Board and District Administration is committed to continuing discussions with our labor partners on any negotiable effects related to the return to 'in-person' learning.

     I attached the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements informational document. There will be information coming out from the Human Resources Department shortly that will shed light on working remotely, underlying health conditions and leaves of absence.

     I appreciate all that each of you do. My commitment is to work with each of you to create the best environment for our students to be safe and successful."

     If district families or district staff have questions or comments about this particular schedule, we want to hear from you; use this Google Form to submit questions or feedback specific to this schedule. The next time our community can expect to hear from Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark will be at the November 9 regular board meeting in his report to the board.


Superintendent Answers General Questions about Reopening
- Written FAQ Available

     On Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark took time in a public forum to meet with district families for two purposes:

  • To give a presentation with the latest reopening information, which was an informative repeat of his October 26 Board Meeting presentation. 
  • To answer district families' questions. In the video, the question and answer session begins at minute 23. 

     The video recording of the public forum is below. Prefer to read instead? Visit our 2020-21 Frequently Asked Questions document.


For Your Review: Our District Organizational Update

     We are proud to present to you transparent, detailed operations reports on a weekly basis. You can read department updates directly from our district leaders in Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark’s weekly Organizational Update to the Board, which is continuously archived for reference. Here is this week’s Organizational Update to the Board:

Organizational Update


"ParentSquare" to Serve as District-Wide Communications Tool

     MDUSD is moving to adopt, "ParentSquare," as our new, uniform, easy-to-use tool for communications district and school-wide. 

     ParentSquare is a tool that will be embedded and synced into AERIES and will allow for mass communication as well as two communication with our families and students in many languages. In addition to a ton of school-wide features, there are elements available for teachers to use as well. This is intended as a single tool to replace the myriad of tools necessary to communicate with our families and students. 

     ParentSquare is designed to keep parents informed and facilitate participation at school. It provides a safe way for the school principal, teachers, staff, and parents to send and receive school and class information, share pictures and files, see calendar items, survey, and much more, all in one place. 

     District administrators and staff will continue to receive initial training so that the ParentSquare adoption can be as smooth as possible.
     Parents should look for communication next week from their school site administrators with an invitation to ParentSquare.


Many are Finding Relief with Mindfulness
- Free Virtual Sessions Available to You

From our partners at Mindful Life Project:

     Mindful Life Project is honored to be leading virtual mindfulness programming to support your mental and emotional wellness during these extremely challenging times. Join us via Zoom to practice this research proven and science based mental training technique. This series is focused on parents/caregivers but kids are welcome to join! We are grateful for our strong and growing partnership with Mt. Diablo Unified School District!

     Every Tuesday, beginning November 10, from 5:00-5:30 PM (Except Thanksgiving week)-

     Benefits of mindfulness practices:

  • Stress reduction
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improved attention and memory
  • Increased quality of sleep
  • Increased self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Improved blood pressure and cardiovascular health
  • And countless others! 
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Advisory: District-Wide Systems Improvement Outage Scheduled

from our Director of Technology and Innovation, Robert Sidford:

     Please be aware that on Wednesday, November 11 [Veterans Day Holiday], the MDUSD TIS Department will conduct a scheduled outage on all critical business and school systems. The outage is expected to last from 6:00AM on Wednesday, November 11, until 6:00 AM on Thursday, November 12. The TIS Department will advise when all systems are restored. This outage will enable us to conduct some critical maintenance and upgrades. 

     All district systems, including Business+, Aeries, Gmail, and Google Drive, will be unavailable during this time period. Please be advised that this scheduled outage will affect staff and students. This means that parents and students should not expect to be able to use any district resources, although some fully cloud-based resources may be accessible. [Thank you in advance for your patience, and] we apologize for the inconvenience as we work to maintain and improve our critical technology services. 


COVID-19 Testing and Free Flu Shots

     Contra Costa Health Services is offering free COVID-19 testing across our county. Find a location near you. Free Flu Shots are available for families at these COVID-19 testing sites: • Antioch • Bay Point • Central Concord (Monument) • North Concord • Richmond • San Ramon



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The Friday Letter is written and compiled by the district's Communications Specialist each week, and is sent to a staff and community audience totaling ~32,000. To sign up for the distribution list, send an email to superintendentsoffice@mdusd.org. To view more Friday Letters and other district communications, visit the Superintendent's Office page. Do you have a story worthy of a district audience? Contact breidenthala@mdusd.org with your ideas or suggestions.