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March 19, 2021 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 38
Posted 3/19/21

 

 

Friday Letter



MARCH 19, 2021 FRIDAY LETTER VOLUME 2, NO. 38


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



MDUSD to WELCOME STUDENTS THURSDAY
Schools Prepared and Enthusiastic for New Hybrid Model
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The Approved Timeline

     With safety plans in place and start dates confirmed, MDUSD is ready and incredibly excited to welcome student groups back to our campuses next week.

  • On Thursday, March 25, 2021, Preschool through 2nd grade and SDC classes will have an option to return to their school to attend In-person Learning Support sessions.
  • On Monday, March 29, 2021, students in grades 3-12 will have an option to return to their school to attend In-person Learning Support sessions.
  • A 100% distance learning model will continue to be an option for all families. 

     Contra Costa County's Red-Tier health metrics continue to improve, and our vaccination numbers seem on track to reach a goal count of 1 million by July 4. District leaders have successfully negotiated and signed serval agreements with union partners (CST, CSEA, MDSPA, and MDEA), one of which (teachers union) will be voted on today at a special board meeting.

It's Going to be a Great "First Day" at School

     Families should look for daily scheduling information to come from school site leadership. For all students and staff, arriving on campus will involve a regular confirmation of no illness symptoms or exposure. While on campus, masks and physical distancing will be required, in alignment with health authorities' recommendations. We're excited, and our school site leadership will be working hard to make sure all expectations are clearly communicated so that everyone feels comfortable.

     What are you looking forward to the most? One student from a family in regular contact with me told me, "I'm just looking forward to being at school and seeing my class and my teacher!" We feel the same, and we'll take our safety protocols seriously so that our learning environment stays safe and sound for everyone.

The Preparation

     We have been busy preparing our school sites to be as safe as possible for staff and students. Boxes upon boxes of personal protection equipment (PPE) have been shipped to schools, ready for use. Sanitary supplies are stocked, campuses have installed safety signage, protocols are in place, and classrooms have been properly arranged for physical distancing. By Monday afternoon, MERV-13 air filters will have been installed at all possible locations at all school sites district-wide. All in all, a combination of health-conscious behavior, well-defined safety protocols, and a strong cleaning regimen gives us great confidence about our campuses' health safety. We are ready.

Thank You's

     We have many for whom to be thankful. To our families who have been waiting along side us for the improved metrics that now allow us to reopen, we appreciate you, and we are glad you are with us in this important step forward. To our students who have worked through the ups and downs of distance learning, we acknowledge and appreciate you. To our educators who adapted to distance learning, working through major change, thank you for your dedication. 

     Also, we are motivated to make the point that we will stand in defense of anyone caught in the crossfire of what can be an intense negotiations process. We must express that although we have pushed diligently for options for our families, we believe in rising above threats, attacking, and barraging of any kind. At the end of the day, our mutual values for student education and community wellness is what moves us forward, and thankfully that is why we are here now, moving forward.

What's Ahead

     We are happy that the county has moved into the Red Tier, and that metrics are continually improving. With safety materials secured, protocols in place, and union agreements signed, we are happy to finally reopen our campuses to students next week. We see the hybrid model as an important step forward in the right direction. For those thinking ahead to the Fall 2021, (next school year), we can tell you with great certainty that an in-person learning option will be offered to families and that we will continue to follow public health authorities' recommendations.


Annual 'BEST Day' for Teachers - A Virtual SuccessBEST Day 1

     On March 17, in partnership with the Concord Chamber of Commerce, Bay Area LEEDs, and Chevron, MDUSD hosted its 22nd annual, "BEST Day," to great success. Fifteen industry partners committed more than six hours of their work day to virtually host over 30 teachers for an engaging day of job shadows and professional development. The BEST Day is a day dedicated to supporting our CTE teachers in staying up to date on industry skills as well as the work readiness skills students need to be college and career ready. Our long-standing relationships with industry partners serve to significantly strengthen our CTE program.

BEST Day 2

     Jennifer Sachs, Chief of Educational Services, summarized the day: "The day started with a presentation by Kevin Fleming on the importance of ensuring all students graduate college and career ready so they have a competitive advantage in the changing economy. Teachers then visited with industry partners, including CalTrans, Common Sense Media, Eichleay, Contra Costa County Health, and McCarthy Building Company, learning about the industry sector and what skills students will need for future employment. They also learned about the different job opportunities available within the industry sector. When teachers returned from lunch, they shared their experiences, how the experience impacted them, and how they will take what they learned back to their classroom. Some takeaways teachers shared included the importance of teaching students about taking advantage of opportunities, identifying trends and anticipating future trends, and the value of welcoming diverse ideas. Teachers also enjoyed a career panel who shared their own paths and tips for students."

     "The day culminated in a presentation by Bobby Ram, Optivolt, who shared his thoughts on preparing  leaders for tomorrow and the importance of diversity & inclusion. It was a wonderful day of learning. Thank you to Chevron for sponsoring the day, including lunch for the teachers, to April Treece, Bay Area LEEDs, for helping to secure the industry partners and organizing the day, and to Erin Larkins, MDUSD Work Based Learning Coordinator, for helping to set up the day and supporting the teachers. Our YVHS CCAP STEM program is now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year. This is an opportunity for students interested in Engineering and Manufacturing to earn early college credit, engage in meaningful work based learning experiences, and prepare for a future STEM career. Here is a short video that provides more information about the program. Applications can be found here: CCAP Application English | CCAP Application Spanish"


MDUSD Students Shine in County Science Fair

Science     We are so incredibly proud of our students Angello, Elyse, Andrea, Jonathan, John, and Erin, who showcased their talent competing in the virtual 2021 Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair last week. Check out the awards and each scientist's project board, including videos, at the 2021 Awards Webpage. This science fair is the gateway fair for youth to compete in the California Science Fair, the Broadcom Masters, and the International Science Fair. MDUSD had six entries this year. Take a look at the creativity and depth of these projects, and you'll see why our scientists did so well. To each of our scientists—we want you to know that all of us at MDUSD are very proud of you. Keep up the great work!

Category
Project #
Project Title
Place
Grade
Scientist
School
Biological
0801
1 8
Angello Ledesma
Pine Hollow Middle
Biological
1008 Nutrient Pollution Levels and Freshwater
Invertebrate Biodiversity in Local Waterways
3 10
Elyse Contreras
Northgate High
Biological
0703
3
7
Andrea Rosmarin
Pleasant Hill Middle
Engineering
1108
2
11
Jonathan Yu
Northgate High
Math/Computer Science
1103
2
11
John Lins
Northgate High
Physical
1002
2
10
Erin Weber
Northgate High


     A total of 115 county scientists completed entry requirements for 96 projects in the Junior (grades 7-8) and Senior (grades 9-12) in six categories Behavioral, Biological, Engineering, Environmental, Math/Computer Sciences, and Physical. On March 12, 83 judges from business within and beyond our county scored posters and conducted interviews during the eight hour competition day. Additional Special Awards judges also participated on fair day. Ten volunteers provided support as the Virtual Tech Team. In addition to Sweepstakes and Place awards (1st-4th), more than $6,000 in cash prizes were awarded. 

     Next year's Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair will be held in-person. Students interested in entering the fair should visit www.ba-leeds.org/science-fair/ in September 2021 to determine the 2022 entry requirements. Scientists may be sponsored by a teacher or any  adult. 

LEEDS


Weekly Operations Report

     Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark is continuing to publish detailed operations reports on a weekly basis. You can read department updates directly from our district leaders in our weekly Organizational Update to the Board, which is also archived for reference. Click on the document to review this week's Organizational Update:

Organizational Update


Ask the CBO: School Business Dynamics

from Chief Business Officer Dr. Lisa Gonzales

     Below is a funding cheat sheet for one-time state and federal dollars. We have not received any detailed information on ESSER II which was signed into law in December. ESSER III was just signed into law, and if it has taken months with no details on ESSER II, we don’t expect any immediate details on ESSER III. This week’s “Ask the CBO” video compares and contrasts school district and business operations.

Source Limitations Amount Apportionment Timeline
CARES Act (ESSER I, Governor’s Emergency Education Relief, Coronavirus Relief Fund, Governor’s Resource 7420 Fund)

Federal and state restricted funds according to rules of four different funding sources

Authorized from March - August 2020

$24,281,405 - All funds have been expended and/or obligated. See CARES Act reports on Business Service page. 

Still awaiting last two apportionments of ESSER I(estimated in late March and June for remaining $4,749,000)
ESSER II (Elem & Sec. Schools Emergency Relief)  signed into law on December 27, 2020 by President Trump Federal restricted funds, same focus as ESSER I with CARES Act (learning loss mitigation, mitigate layoffs, emergency relief to address pandemic) Still unknown (anticipated $17M range) - applications closed on 3/19/21  Not yet released
American Rescue Plan (ESSER III) signed into law on March 12th by President Biden Federal restricted funds (20% to expanded learning, tied to reopening plans, must have a plan submitted within 30 days of receiving funds). Still unknown but a plan will be required. Estimations available. Not yet released. The state needs to create the plan template - a meeting to see input on creating the plan will be held on 3/19/21.


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Greetings All - I write and compile the MDUSD Friday Letter, which is sent to our staff and district community audience each week. If you would sign up for our distribution list, just send an email to breidenthala@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, or feel free to leave me anonymous feedback through the surveys below. Thank you. -Austin Breidenthal
Austin

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