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December 11, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 27
Posted 12/11/20

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DECEMBER 11, 2020 FRIDAY LETTER VOLUME 2, NO. 27


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



'Forever MDUSD Proud,' Brian Lawrence in Parting Words

Brian Lawrence

     We are in the middle of a global pandemic and many families are struggling, so I won’t waste your time with a stroll down memory lane to recap my eight years on the MDUSD Board. 
     Our District has prioritized the health and safety of our students and staff during this global health crisis. We pivoted quickly to Distance Learning and worked hard to continually improve that offering. There are students, however, who desperately need the structure provided by being in a classroom. We also have teachers and staff who want to be back with their students. There is now a large body of medical data showing that with proper precautions this can be done very safely.
     I’m optimistic that the new Board will continue to implement the approved plan that Dr. Clark recommended to provide for small groups of students to return prior to a larger hybrid reopening. While the majority of our students, teachers and staff may stay in Distance Learning in the near-term, let us remember the District’s mission is to serve all students. 
     I trust in the leadership of Dr. Clark and his team as they lead our District. The biggest decision a School Board can make is who to hire as Superintendent. I’m proud that during my tenure we hired two excellent ones—Dr. Nellie Meyer and Dr. Adam Clark. 
     Thank you for the honor of serving these last eight years on the MDUSD Board. Public service can be challenging for a working parent so I am grateful for the support of my children and especially my wife who enabled me to make this commitment.  I also want to express my gratitude to the volunteers and employees of MDUSD. I am now, and forever will be, MDUSD proud. 

     Stay safe. Be kind. Wear a mask. Focus on our students.

     Brian Lawrence


New Bicycle Giveaway
Our 'Golden Ticket' L(a)unch

Golden Ticket

     Happy Holidays from MDUSD to you! On December 16, we are giving away brand new bicycles to 15 lucky MDUSD students. Here's how it will work—a special Golden Ticket will be in one meal bag for each of the 15 buses distributing free meals on that day of service. If a student's meal bag has a Golden Ticket, they have won, and will be asked to pick up their new bicycle on Monday, December 21, 2020.
Bicycle     There are 15 Golden Tickets for the 15 distribution routes that we run, so every route will have one bicycle winner. Your free meal could have a Golden Ticket inside! Mark your calendars for December 16 and learn about our meal distribution routes nearest you.

     This idea is thanks to our Transportation and Food & Nutrition Services Department leaders Cris 'Cringle' Lepe and Dominic 'the Saint' Machi. They may forgive me for the nicknames later. Our Transportation Department staff kindly pooled together to purchase one bicycle and helmet, while the other bicycles were a donation redeemed from a national vendor program Cool School Cafe. Walmart and the Transportation Sunshine Club have also donated helmets for each bicycle winner. Special thanks to MDUSD bus driver Ron 'the Elf' Rivett, who assembled the bicycles—15 Titan Tomcat Bicycles, to be precise.


Pandemic Intensity Motivates Reopening Postponements

CA Map

     Today is December 11, and California's COVID-19 precautionary measures are the most restrictive they have been since the spring season. California Governor Gavin Newsom has described recent stay-at-home Purple-Tier orders as, "pulling an emergency brake," in an effort—as recommended by top public health experts—to mitigate worsening pandemic metrics, metrics that include a spike in cases and hospitality rates, a strain on intensive care availability, and a shortage of manpower with front-line healthcare workers. 
     As of today, more than 15,696,400  people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and our death toll is expected to exceed 300,000 this weekend. In the last 24 hours, the United States had 223,570 new cases of COVID-19, and 2,923 deaths; this death rate has drawn comparisons to that of a daily September 11 loss. In a worldwide context, more than 1,590,000 are dead, the result of more than 69,800,000 cases. Can words and numbers on a page ever represent the extent of the human toll this pandemic has taken and will take?
     This is where we are. For many bay-area school districts, mid-January was a target to introduce a hybrid model option, but now, this worse-than-expected, "dark winter," in the COVID-19 pandemic is calling for districts to postpone reopening. In a letter to district staff and families on December 8, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark outlined the same for MDUSD, citing the newest information from state and local health authorities that ultimately informs his recommendation to postpone reopening. Here is that message in its entirety. The MDUSD Governing Board's agreement with this recommendation would mean that schools will not introduce a hybrid model in January and that reopening plans would be revisited at the board's first regular meeting in January.
     Course-correcting our large ship seems to mean that we are missing a dangerous iceberg. In this current Purple Tier, for bay-area organizations to avoid gatherings will save lives exponentially. Because keeping schools closed also carries recognizable adverse consequences, the correct question to be asking is, "What is the most we can be doing for our students?" Moving forward, union negotiations and the latest pandemic restrictions will continue to characterize the services we offer.

Negotiations Update:
from the weekly Organizational Update to the Board

      The District and MDEA Bargaining Teams met for negotiations for two consecutive days for approximately 12 hours cumulatively.  Both groups came well prepared and the discussions were professional and productive. MDEA presented their counter proposal addressing Daily Live Interaction Minutes which continues to request fewer minutes of daily live instruction than are required by the current Distance Learning Phase (DLP) MOU.  The District continues to request a small increase in the number of minutes provided to students. 
     MDEA also presented a counter proposal on Reopening Metrics (e.g. the level of COVID-19 positive cases in our county considered safe for students and teachers to return).  The Teams continue to be unable to reach agreement on specific metrics and the length of time the District would need to meet particular metrics prior to allowing students to return for on-site learning or reopening in a hybrid model.
     Both Bargaining Teams also exchanged counter proposals on a Small Group Support model where a very limited number of students could possibly return for on-site learning.  The groups made progress on the hours of allowable groups and the safety protocols but still remain in discussion regarding the schedule and a MDEA request for additional compensation for staff.  A discussion was also held regarding small groups of students to be on campus to work with staff members including the CARES after school program.  
     As we plan for upcoming negotiations sessions, both teams remain committed to resolving the outstanding issues and creating options for the support of students in a safe environment. The District and MDEA will meet again next Tuesday.
     Teamster negotiations continued on Monday 12-7-20.  Both teams presented multiple articles.  The two teams reached tentative agreements on two articles.  Negotiations continue on Friday January 8, 2021.
     CSEA negotiations continued on Thursday 12-10-20.  Both teams presented multiple proposals.  The two teams reached tentative agreements on two articles and agreed to “Status Quo” on a third article.  There are currently only 3 articles needing resolution.  Negotiations continue on Wednesday January 6, 2021 and Thursday January 14, 2021.


To Students: You Can Solve Real-World Problems in a STEM Career

STEM Logo     Dear Students,
     You know, the best part about the field of engineering is that you can choose to work on things you care about, things you value. 

     For example, maybe you are someone who values a lifestyle that leaves a minimal carbon footprint—skipping straws, using reusable containers, and conserving energy, in an effort to show excellent personal responsibility. If environmental activism speaks to you now, consider fighting the same battle on a larger scale in the future, just like "Sustainability Engineer" Deborah Martin does in her official role as Manager of Product Stewardship & Regulatory for Dupont Nutrition and Biosciences. She's a real engineer role model and is hosting a free webinar on Sunday, December 13 at 4:00PM to describe her education and career journey and give examples of her work to bring safe sustainable products to consumers. Think of it as STEM meets TED Talk. You can register for free in advance for this webinar and find out more about our partner organization Girls4STEM to see upcoming webinars.

     Of course, "engineering," itself is an umbrella term and opportunities within the field are incredibly diverse, so MDUSD is working to make it easy for you to explore career opportunities. Businesses are naturally invested in your success, and we take pride in forming strategic partnerships to connect you to field opportunities. One exemplification is the good work of MDUSD Teacher Joseph Alvarico, who took 65 students on a virtual field trip hosted by long-time district partner Eichleay Inc. just last week. I caught up with Mr. Alvarico who told me a little more: 

Virtual Field Trip

     "The virtual field trip was an enrichment activity for my Engineering Essentials class, 'a course meant to provide students opportunities to explore the breadth of engineering career opportunities and experiences and solve engaging and challenging real-world problems.' The aim of the virtual field trip is to connect students to real-world applications of engineering and discover the vast array of career opportunities in the STEM field.

     "Eichleay has been a part of our Mt. Diablo Business Education Alliance for years. Presently, they are an active participant of the advisory board for the inaugural Ygnacio Valley High School College and Career Access Pathway (CCAP) STEM program, a dual enrollment program. Ygnacio Valley currently has 36 CCAP STEM students enrolled in Engineering Essentials and a college class (Career 100/101) through Diablo Valley College (DVC)."

     The virtual field trip was a great look into various types of engineering career opportunities. I would encourage you to take the virtual field trip too in any down time you might have—it was recorded and posted here on YouTube. Thank you to those who made that possible and to Eichleay Executive Vice President Mr. Sakamoto for hosting. If you have questions or are interested to explore more career opportunities, consider reaching out to your school counselor. Our team is here for you—happy to help and advise. 


MDUSD School Counselors Are Here For You

From Stephanie Roberts, Director of Partnerships & MTSS 

     Our counseling team is pleased to announce the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Counseling Corner Newsletter! The monthly newsletter will share seasonal and relevant tips and resources to support, engage, and connect students and families TK-12. The newsletter and other resources can also be found under the Parent Portal tab on the district website.

Counseling Corner Counseling Corner Spanish

Counseling Corner Newsletter December Edition- English and Counseling Corner Newsletter December Edition- Spanish


For Your Review: Superintendent's Organizational Update to the Board

     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



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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 around 32,000. To sign up for the distribution list, send an email to superintendentsoffice@mdusd.org. To view an archive of district communications, visit the Superintendent's Office page. Do you have a story or event to share with our community? Contact me (breidenthala@mdusd.org) with your ideas or suggestions.

Austin

 

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