Ms. B's Briones Buzz

Wednesday Edition - May 20, 2020

Welcome to the COVID 19 Update Edition of The Buzz

Dear Briones Families,

As we move through week six of Phase III online learning, a great deal of care, effort, and planning are taking place at all levels throughout the District to facilitate the safe and successful reopening of school in the Fall.

Since school closed on March 13, I have witnessed incredible collaboration among staff and parents, flexible, rapid, and creative responses to challenges that arose as we navigated through the initial phases of our first pandemic together, and a learning curve for staff, students, and families unlike I've seen in my lifetime.

The following segments of The Buzz include a variety of the most current updates regarding plans for the next three weeks of school and reopening in the Fall. I hope you find them helpful.

I could not be more proud of our entire Briones community! Our staff, PTA Executive Board and volunteers, Site Council, CAC, and PiE volunteers have all contributed to providing essential support and care for our students, families, and staff.

I hope you are able to find time to relax and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

With care,


First, Some Briones Spirit from our Spirit Day!

Making the Most of These Final Weeks and Reimagining School Reopening in '20-'21

Preparation at the District Level

Dear Briones Families,

Our District and the Briones staff have been engaged in planning that will bring meaningful closure to the 2019-20 school year and illuminate the possibilities that lie ahead this Fall as school reopens.

At the District level, over 40 teachers from every elementary grade level and teacher category were invited to provide input during a task force meeting on school reopening this week. Similar input meetings were also held for secondary teachers.

Dr. Austin's “Backstage with the Superintendent” webinar featured responses to live feedback from over 800 participants through a platform called thoughtexchange. Participants responded to the following two questions:

  • What are some thoughts, concerns, or questions that are on the top of your minds right now?
  • What do we need to consider to make sure you feel safe and supported as we plan for an eventual return to classrooms?

If you were unable to view the webinar, the recording is available on YouTube.

In order to continue collecting feedback from those who were unable to attend, the second thoughtexchange question will be open until Friday, May 22. If you are interested in participating by rating the thoughts of others without adding new thoughts to the exchange, that's welcomed too!

Our Board of Trustees is also actively engaging in planning and community support efforts with Dr. Austin, District leadership teams, PAUSD staff, County health professionals, our PTAs, PTAC, and local parent and community organizations.

Preparations At Briones

Our Briones teachers have been busy planning on a number of levels. They contiune to provide asynchronous instruction, hold office hours for parents, and provide synchronous opportunities for students and families to connect and learn in small group settings with support from our aides, specialists, and specials staff. They are also planning meaningful end-of year activities such as writing celebrations, creating memory books, and 5th grade promotion to name a few!

Thanks to the wonderful Jose and Mike, our campus is being disinfected this week and an district-approved safety plan is in place for those teachers who would like to begin to get back into their classrooms to pack up student materials and prepare their classrooms for summer. The plan aligns with CDC and county protocols and is optional until shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.

We are arranging drive-through style distribution events for our families. Once all student materials are ready to go, parents will be invited to sign up for scheduled drive through appointments to come to campus and safely pick up student materials from the classroom and drop off library and classroom library books. More details will be made available soon!

Finally, we are continuing on with our class placement process for next year, taking into account the possibility that classes will need to be split into smaller learning groups. We are planning an array of possible class schedules, taking inventory of our school spaces for the purpose of physical distancing, and we are planning our calendar events all of which will look different than we've previously experienced.

While there is much to be done, our staff is collaborating closely, thinking creatively, and rising to the occasion with student safety and learning at the center of every decision we make!

Budget Updates

There have also been many conversations about budgets recently. As you might imagine, the District will be facing budget shortfalls when we reopen as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. At last Tuesday's Board meeting, members of our Executive Cabinet proposed cuts in the range of $4-5 million dollars for the upcoming year.

Our Site Council will be rolling over some funds and will continue to receive funding from the District next year. Our focus in the coming year will be to allocate our annual funds to deepen support around our SEL goal and supports for students, families, and staff in anticipation of a wide variety of needs once we return to school.

Additionally, at our May PTA Executive Board meeting, a budget was presented that addressed several possible scenarios. We are fortunate to have some reserves, however our Board is trying responsibly to balance the budget without having to dig too deeply into those reserves knowing that most of our fundraisers are on hold for the time being. PTA will ask for donations on the one-check form in the Fall and I am hoping each family can contribute what they are able to in order to help support our students during what will be yet another unprecedented school year.

Finally, I am very pleased to announce that due to your generous donations, our per pupil allotment from PiE will be fully intact for next year! This will allow us to continue to fund aides, art, music, and dance for each of our students at Briones! PiE has also approved a 5% carryover of funds in order to help us plan for the budgetary challenges that lie ahead. Thank you, PiE!

Need a Loaner Device or Technical Assistance with the One You Have?

Please come Ohlone School this Friday, May 22, 2020 between the hours of 12:00-3:00 PM! Thank you to the PAUSD IT Department for making these opportunities available!

Site Council Needs YOU!

Are you interested in learning about the inner workings of our school? Are you curious about how site goals are set, how our safety plan is determined, and how teachers are supported in reaching the goals we set? Are you interested in supporting reading instruction and SEL?

If so, then Site Council is the place for you! We are looking for one more parent to partner with us on the approval and support of school goals, to help design our school safety plan, and to support teachers and families in our goal areas.

Site Council is comprised of parents, teachers, and the principal, and meets once monthly on Mondays from 3:00-4:30.

Please contact me if you have questions or are interested in joining us at:

Friday Fun Day!

The music requests are cued up and ready to go for our second Friday Fun Day! Please join us from 12:30-12:50 for some good old fashioned fun! Come and listen, come and dance, come and hang out! All are welcome!

Register Here for Friday Fund Day!

If you have already registered and checked the boxes to attend the next Friday Fun days, there is no need to register again.

Elementary Visual Art Exhibition

The Elementary Visual Art Exhibition is a yearly tradition celebrating student’s artwork through a long term partnership with the Palo Alto Art Center.

Approximately 240 pieces of art were collected and matted by the Spectra team. The Virtual Exhibition was organized and created by Emily Marshall, Gretel Colvert and Dawn Tower Irvine. The work reflects Kinder through 5th grade lessons dedicated to creative thinking, problem solving, skill building and social emotional learning.

This year’s instructional goal for Spectra teachers was to develop learning objectives and lessons that create horizontal and vertical sequencing throughout the elementary Spectra Art curriculum. Under the guidance of Kate McKenzie, Visual Art teacher on special assignment(TOSA), art lessons and objectives have been digitally organized with the goal of aligning learning objectives across the district. Additionally, the Spectra staff focused on new ways to inspire creativity by encouraging symbolic and critical thinking, and engaging students in problem solving, flexible responses and making new connections to art and life.

During distance learning students have turned to art as a way to express their sadness, loss, freedom, joy, and to expand their creative boundaries.

Enjoy the show! Elementary Visual Art Exhibition

Nancy Coffey, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator

Kate McKenzie, Visual Art TOSA

Dawn Tower Irvine, Photographer

Care Kit from our CASSY Counseling Service