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August 21, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 12
Posted 8/22/20

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08-21-2020 Organizational Update to the Board
     You have detailed district operations information at your fingertips. Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark continues with his weekly Organizational Update to the Board, rich with updates from our department leaders.

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When the Smoke Clears

     Approximately six million (6,000,000) students began the 2020-21 school year with distance learning at more than ten thousand (10,000) schools across the State of California—this, as California today reached six hundred and fifty thousand (650,000) cases of COVID-19. Economic distress abounds. As if these were not challenging enough, major wildfires are scorching through areas where our friends, families, and neighbors live; our thoughts and sympathies are with them continually, and we are grateful to our first responders who are doing everything they can in the fight for safety.

     This is where we are. Looking around, it is as if the dense smoke blanketing our neighborhoods seems to represent what we have been feeling through our challenges this year. The deep, gray blurriness is weighty, demanding, and incredibly tiresome. Numbness, anxiety, and depression are common enemies of all, even for those of us who have reliable support systems.

      If you have not already, I would invite you to consider the truths that come from acknowledging that this year’s events have been indeed traumatic, truths that come from viewing ourselves and each other as trauma survivors. To that end, I have included links to materials below.

     As weighty as it may be, smoke does clear, and when the smoke clears, we are left standing, remembering exactly how we made it through.

     When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you faced these challenges with great courage and resilience. When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you had been kind to yourself and that you had taken opportunities to extend a helping hand. When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you were not alone.

     We will make it through!

    Resources for you:

Your Story is Our Story – School Start Reflections

     Teachers, support staff, and educational leadership have been energetically posting stories on social media of the ups, downs, challenges, and successes that have characterized our first week of distance learning in the new school year. The heart, flexibility, and creativity of our staff is obvious and encouraging to see.   

     Naturally, the opportunity presents itself for a media compilation to share with the broader community, and I would love to include your story—after all, your story is our story. Staff and parents, if you are sharing on social media, remember to tag MDUSD. If you are not on social media, feel free to send material to me by email: austinbr@mdusd.org

     MDUSD Teacher of the Year winner Beth Miller Bremer reflects on week one:

     “…I was expecting technical issues galore and low attendance, among other things. I was basically thinking that anything that could go wrong, probably would... I was so wrong!
     Attendance has been excellent all week. Technical issues have occurred, but things are working more often than they do not. On Monday when I got kicked out of Zoom twice, I was automatically logged back in and found the class waiting patiently. Parents and students have been excellent about getting to class on time and being prepared with their materials. Students have been engaging with me, and each other, and doing their assignments to the best of their ability and resources. We are learning to use Google Classroom together.
     I don't mean to sugarcoat anything. This is HARD, and I can tell it is going to take stamina from everyone to carry on in this manner for the long haul. But we are all doing it! The children are so happy to see each other's faces. They will often stay on the Zoom call while they are doing independent work, simply to feel connected, as though they are in a classroom. We are learning patience, flexibility and resilience. We are helping one another succeed through difficult circumstances. It is really beautiful.”

Find a Meal Service Center Near You
     Our twelve Meal Service Centers are happy to serve students quickly and safely. Meal services are currently served at cost, reduced cost, or free according to student eligibility. All meals require student verification to receive meals through the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, and After School Snack Programs. Find a Meal Service Center near you: Pick-up Meal Services Flyer  |  Servicio de Recoger

     Are you interested in applying for Free and Reduced Price Meals? Visit our Food and Nutrition Department webpage to get started.

Continuing Parent Academy and Parent Training Sessions
     Our Special Education Department is continuing with the MDUSD Parent Academy, an enriching informational series to help parents navigate distance learning. The schedule of virtual sessions through Zoom began on August 13, 2020. All families are welcome, and live Spanish interpretation will be available.
     Additionally, new Parent Trainings are available thanks to the Parent Education Department of Mt. Diablo Adult Education. All families are welcome, and trainings are being offered in English and in Spanish.
     Parent Academy and Parent Training flyers are available here.

Board Meetings: We Value Your Input
     Board meeting agendas and attachments are always available for public inspection, and in alignment with the Brown Act, our district posts each at least seventy two hours in advance for regularly scheduled meetings. You can find the August 24 Board Meeting Agenda and all attachments here.
     We value your input and we encourage public participation in meetings by way of public comment. The agenda header always includes information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.

Austin Breidenthal
Communications Specialist
Mt. Diablo Unified School District