We, the principals of Chabot, Crocker Highlands, Glenview, Hillcrest, Joaquin Miller, Montclair, Peralta, Redwood Heights, and Thornhill write to you today with a joint update.
First, we want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to both our parents and teachers for your combined efforts in making Distance Learning as successful as it can be under the circumstances. Teachers are working around the clock to create and deliver quality instruction, and parents/guardians have become acrobats as you adjust to the schedules and demands of supporting your children at home. Sadly, this pandemic has persisted for longer than most of us anticipated, and its impact on many people’s physical and emotional health is acute. School staff, families and students all agree that virtual school is not as effective as pre-pandemic learning, and we all long to get students safely back on campus as soon as possible.
One of the most challenging things about this time is that there is so much beyond our control and a lot that is unpredictable. One of the areas where we all - parents, teachers, staff, and even principals - feel that lack of control most acutely is around school reopening. We know the messaging around reopening schools has been confusing on many fronts. This is in large part due to the multitude of variables (i.e., COVID rates, labor agreements, vaccine delivery, testing capacity) and ever-changing information.
Since our school communities do not have control over variables impacting full school reopenings, we are choosing to focus our efforts on those areas we can influence. We are committed to exploring every option within our OUSD guidelines to ensure the emotional well-being and academic success of all our students. Specifically, we are working to be able to bring back students in small groups in two ways. Please be patient as these possibilities are in the very preliminary/exploratory stages, and there is a lot of work to do before they can be actualized safely.
CLASS PLAY DATES ON THE YARD - In the coming weeks, we hope to be able to open our playgrounds after school hours for scheduled times where subsets of classes can come and play with friends they have only been seeing via Zoom. We will need parent/guardian volunteers to help with organizing and supervision. More information and details are coming soon from each site.
EQUITY-BASED LEARNING HUBS - To support our highest needs students, we are exploring the possibility of opening one or more learning cohorts of up to 14 students at our school sites. These would be small, stable cohorts of students who would come to campus all or most days and access their Distance Learning from here. They would be staffed by an outside vendor under the principal’s supervision and in accordance with OUSD safety protocols. Students would be selected for participation based on an equity rubric developed by our Coordination of Services Team (COST) and in accordance with OUSD’s equity standards. Although these cohorts would only be able to serve a very small number of students under current guidance from the Alameda County Department of Public Health (ACDPH), we believe that these are the best available options to get those students who most need support back on campus. Moreover, a successful hub program will help prepare all of us for bringing larger numbers of children safely back onto campus.
We know that even in normal times, we can not deliver the quality education that our children deserve without your partnership - this is ten times more true now than ever. In challenging times, it is easy to look for someone to blame. Instead, we are hopeful that we can find common ground in our care for each of our school’s children and our commitment to bring them back to our campuses as soon as it is safe to do so.
Learning under pandemic conditions will not last forever; your children will not forget what it means to learn in person; our beautiful schools will once again be filled with children, families, and staff.
We continue to be grateful for all of your support.
Principals Jessica Cannon, Joci Kelleher, Rachel Quinn, Maria McCormick, Sara Green, Maite Barloga, Shirley Clem, Cynthia Bagby and Steve Daubenspeck