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November 20, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 25
Posted 11/20/20



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

COVID-19 Restrictions Tighten,
January Targeted for Hybrid Option

CA Tiers

     Together, this is where we are—Contra Costa, like 41 other California counties, has been assigned Purple Tier (highest risk) COVID-19 restrictions in order to maintain health safety. A new state-wide curfew of 10:00PM has been implemented for all non-essential activities. 

     See the new state-wide stay at home order (curfew); en Español
     See the Contra Costa Health Services Purple Tier Announcement
     See What's Open in Contra Costa (Purple Tier)en Español 

     Around the world and across our country, in response to a spike in pandemic metrics, public health authorities are urgently advocating for safer social behaviors like limited gatherings, social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing. Recent vaccine developments have stirred hope for the year 2021, but public health authorities widely agree that the public should not relax behavioral restrictions, especially during this holiday and flu season.

     See Worldwide COVID-19 Data // See United States of America COVID-19 Data 
     See a PBS Report on Recent Vaccine Developments
     See Bay-Area Recommendations for a Safe Holiday and Flu Season

     Here, we will review what the Purple Tier means for Mt. Diablo Unified School District in a question-and-answer format. 

     Question: Is MDUSD still planning to introduce a hybrid model option in January?
     Answer: Yes—January remains our target date to introduce a hybrid model option. There are MDUSD families and staff who are willing to return, and we believe we can introduce a hybrid model option safely. Note that according to our public health authority recommendations, schools can reopen under the Yellow, Orange, and Red Tiers.

     Question: Would MDUSD introduce a hybrid model under the Purple Tier?
     Answer: No—in alignment with our public health authority's recommendations, the MDUSD Governing Board and Superintendent have stated that our district schools would not introduce a hybrid model under the Purple Tier. However, unions are working together with the district to make some campus-based services available to students, even under the Purple Tier. Specific services must be negotiated, documented, and reported out.

     As a negotiations progress update, John Rubio, Chief of Human Resources, wrote in this week's Organizational Update (headline follows): "MDEA [(teacher's union)] and the District recently agreed on MOU's [(memorandum of understanding documents)] for Teacher Evaluation, and agreed to a change of the July 31 MDEA-District MOU to allow for on-site ACT & SAT testing, the January 26 PSAT test, and also for some limited 1 on 1 on site, 'non-instructional,' student meetings. The District and MDEA also continue to exchange proposals during negotiations on small group learning models and a Hybrid model." 

     Question: When will families make their decision to return (declaration survey)? 
     Answer: We intend to give each of our families a, "Declaration Survey," to decide whether or not they plan to enter a hybrid model, or, stay in 100% distance learning model. Our families need more information before making this decision, so we are using the coming weeks to continue negotiations with our union partners. We will monitor pandemic data and work every day to develop our plans with union partners to see how we can best serve our families' needs through this changing landscape. 

Questions Document
See More Questions and Answers

A Season of Thanks Arrives to Renew Spirits

    Fall Painting These days, leaves of amber, orange, and brown are dancing against deep blue skies, signaling a welcome to our traditional season of thanks, and the optimist in me would hope that the arrival of this season and its various holidays provide some sense of relief and comfort. As we soldier on through this tough year, may we welcome those moments of relief, comfort, and happiness with open arms. More than optimism, may we find the utility of perspective that such goodness so often demands. Today, if it brings any encouragement at all, I want to share with you something simple that a grandfather figure told me years ago; something that has helped me more times than I can remember:

     "Remember this - Gratitude can spark energy within you. It really can, especially when times are tough. If you just take a moment to breathe and consider all the people and faces you are thankful for, you can start to feel a new energy developing. If you look around to recognize the privilege and beauty in everyday life, especially through struggles, find your gratitude, and you'll find with it a renewed spirit to keep pushing forward. Whether your gratitude is for the cute way a puppy wags its tail, or for how the gentle rain brings the promise of new life, if it is for the warm, familiar smell of apple pie, or maybe the sense of pride you feel for a loved one, let every thankful thought be a spark, let your gratitude be a flame that grows, pushing you to rise up and seize the day. Fear and worry may bring you down, but gratitude will lift you up and make you strong."

Meet Erin McFerrin, New Trustee for Area 5Erin McFerrin

     Erin McFerrin is set to be sworn in to public office at the December 14 MDUSD Governing Board Meeting as the first trustee elected to represent Area 5, about which Erin says she is both honored and excited. This year, Erin began her 10th year of teaching, currently employed by the Acalanes Union High School District at Las Lomas High School. She previously taught in Pittsburg for four years, in San Ramon for three, and Mt. Diablo High School for two years, from 2018 until June of 2020. She is the daughter of a teacher and the wife of a teacher. She and her family care deeply about public education.

     Erin’s family has been in Concord since the 1940's. Her mother is an alumna of Mt. Diablo High School. After graduating from high school, Erin moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University. During that time she worked as an adult literacy tutor. This experience helped her decide to become a teacher and also showed her that there is an opportunity gap in our education system. In her classroom, Erin has worked to address this by learning about and implementing restorative practices, selecting culturally relevant literature, and developing an equity lens. 

     Erin thought about running for school board for several years, and got serious about filing for candidacy after being encouraged to do so by her neighbors, colleagues, and family. As a working teacher with current experience in the district during this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, her perspective will add something new to the MDUSD Board of Education. She hopes to improve equity, accountability, and communication in the district.  

Consider HOPE for Your Holiday Giving

     Our homeless students are some of our most vulnerable students, and we are motivated to shine some extra light into their lives during this holiday season. If you are looking for a place to give this year, please see this message from MDUSD's Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE):

     "To supplement our ongoing services, HOPE is requesting donations for our holiday program to support homeless students in the school district. We are asking for gift cards from the following types of places where kids can purchase something just for themselves:

Target • Walmart • 99 Cents/Dollar Tree • Old Navy • GAP • Chuck E. Cheese • Generic prepaid credit cards • Fast Food & Other Restaurants

     We are requesting card denominations of $25 or $50, with the amounts clearly marked on the cards with a marker so recipients know how much is available for them to spend. Gift cards can be mailed or delivered to 'Mt. Diablo HOPE 2730 Salvio Street, Room 24 Concord, CA 94519.'


     You can also make a tax-deductible cash donation by sending a check to the above address, or by utilizing the phone app Venmo and sending funds to MDUSD HOPE. Cash donations will be used to purchase holiday gift cards, and if there is cash remaining after gift cards have been provided for every HOPE student, then the money will be used to support HOPE students throughout the year (i.e. food, gas to get to school, senior activities/pictures, fines, clothing for interviews, prom, yearbooks, brief emergency shelter, and other needs as they may arise). We are asking that donations be made by December 4, 2020. Please call or e-mail the HOPE program with questions at (925) 682-8000 x3054 and All donations we receive go to our homeless youth at MDUSD."

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

Premiering Tonight:"High School Notes"
An Uplifting Vocal Concert

     Tonight at 7:00PM, enjoy a cappella music at the first-ever digital concert, "High School Notes," emceed and directed by Deke Sharon, producer of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and arranger/director/producer of Universal’s three “Pitch Perfect” movies. This event will feature local high schools from across the Diablo Region, including Concord High, College Park High, and Northgate High, and will be professionally mixed and edited for at-home enjoyment. High School Notes is intended to support local music educators and provide a healing musical outlet for students and viewers alike.


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Each week, the MDUSD Friday Letter is written and compiled by the district's Communications Specialist and sent to a staff and community audience totaling ~32,000. To sign up for the distribution list, send an email to To view an archive of Friday Letters and other district communications, visit the Superintendent's Office page. Do you have a story or event to share with our community? Contact with your ideas or suggestions.