Superintendent's Newsletter

March 8th, 2021

Dear FUSD Community,

It was almost a year ago that most school districts in the Bay Area closed each campus in response to the COVID-19 virus. As I am sure you recall, those days and weeks were filled with so many intense emotions, questions, and wonderings, as to what the future will hold.

Upon returning in the fall for this current school year, all FUSD employees played a role in crafting a distance learning program that has been very successful and maintained an appropriate amount of rigor for students. It has not been perfect, but I am not aware of any distance learning program that was perfect. FUSD has done very well compared to many surrounding districts when it comes to our distance learning program. Again, thank you to our educators, administrators, classified support staff, and our parents, who’ve supported these efforts.

A year later, we are in the process of returning students to campus, many of those same emotions may be resurfacing now. What will it be like? How will everyone respond? How will this disrupt the current learning environment and program? What is the best course of action? How will the transition go? These are normal questions for our students, for our staff, and for our families. They are conversations we are having in my house with my own children as well. There are so many factors to consider, nothing will be perfect for every person. Despite the imperfections, I remain confident that by working together, we can accomplish this transition, finish our current school year, and return in 2021-22 even better!

Thanks to the progress of vaccinations, dropping case rates, along with established and universal health and safety practices, we are all moving in a much more positive direction than a year ago. The transition back to in-person instruction, while still operating a distance learning model, contains far more variables than our transition last spring, yet this complexity is highlighted with hope. We are seeing locally and across the state, more movement back toward things we’ve known, small steps forward to a more normal existence.

As is the case for every comprehensive and large scale change, it can only be accomplished by working together. As I’ve shared many times, the safe return of students and staff can only be accomplished through collaboration and cooperation. We will need our teachers, our classified support staff, our child nutrition staff, our custodial staff, our counselors, administrators, and all other FUSD staff members to share in equal parts of a safe return to school.

FUSD is absolutely committed to providing a safe return to campus for students who desire that option. These learning spaces will be compliant with all local/state health guidelines and regulations. These guidelines are clearly outlined in the FUSD COVID-19 Safety Plan. We are committed to making this process grounded in safety and aligned with FUSD’s intention to support students, staff, and our families. FUSD is committed to ensuring physical distancing as outlined in local health guidance, making sure all students and adults are properly wearing masks/face-covering, making sure everyone is practicing personal hygiene, and providing air purification units for every classroom in FUSD. Additionally, FUSD is working to reach agreements for asymptomatic regular testing of our staff to ensure we can further support their health and safety at work.

You may have recently heard concerns about the questionnaire associated with staff asymptomatic testing. As I am sure everyone understands, FUSD is not a medical agency, we are an educational institution. Therefore, we are contracting out with Valencia Labs, as provided by the state of California for such testing. There are forms specific to their testing which are not created nor endorsed by the FUSD. While the related questionnaire does seek to acquire personal information that is not part of FUSD’s normal scope of practice, it also provides an option to decline an answer. FUSD is working to see if the company’s form can be revised. I remain confident we can support a process to either resolve the issue with the company, or help all our employees understand they are not required to answer invasive questions on the testing company’s survey. I also remain confident FUSD can find common agreements and solutions with our employee unions to allow this important testing to move forward.

These safety measures highlight the importance of having many layers of safety enhancements. One measure by itself is simply not enough. All the layers outlined above, when used together, can provide a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning. By keeping in alignment with local and state public health guidelines, we can all be sure that our actions are aligned with the agencies responsible and those with the proper medical background for making those important public health declarations.

Have you heard the good news about vaccines in FUSD? I am not aware of any other large-scale district that has been able to provide such rapid access to vaccines for their employees. Thanks to our partnership with Haller’s Pharmacy and the Fremont Fire Department, access provided by the FEMA site in Oakland and other medical providers, since February 16th, FUSD has been able to send over 4000 invitations to employees for their first vaccine dose! That’s right, 4000 invitations for staff to receive their vaccine. We are so incredibly grateful to our Haller’s Pharmacy and Fremont Fire partners for making this all possible! That 4000 number covers our teachers, counselors, other educators, classified support staff, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, administrators, child nutrition staff, coaches, substitutes, maintenance, and operations staff, and district office staff.

Target Reopening Dates and Negotiations for Elementary and Secondary Schools:

Recently, FUSD announced target return dates for our Preschool, TK-2nd Graders (March 29th), and for our 3rd-6th graders at the elementary school level (April 13th). Yet, it is important to note that these dates are only targets and we will need all our employees to be an active part of this return.

In addition to the Preschool and Elementary return dates provided above. FUSD provided FUDTA with a proposal last Friday to return our secondary students to campus as well. The District’s proposal set forward a target of March 29th for middle school/junior high students, and April 19th for high school students.

There are many communications circulating at this time regarding what is, or is not, happening as it relates to negotiations and returning students and staff to campus. Many of those communications within our community, or even within our FUSD staff, are focused on specific groups, specific positions, and points of opposition or contention. As noted above, the safe and timely return of students to campus doesn’t happen without all members working together.

There is so much common ground, a shared value of keeping students and staff safe, and so much agreement that can be had. It will benefit each and every person, including our students, if our individual and collective efforts, communications, and energy are focused on solutions, common ground, and positive intent. FUSD remains intensely focused, prepared, and ready to meet frequently with all our labor unions to reach agreements with all our employee groups for a safe return of students and staff to in person learning. I look forward to being part of a solution-focused approach to reach common agreements centered around students and in support of our staff.

For transparency, the District’s most recent proposal to FUDTA (no agreement has been reached) on a secondary return to campus, along with a proposal for the return of elementary students (no agreement has been reached), is posted on our Readiness Dashboard.

Learning Hubs

Today marks one of those small steps as we returned small groups of students, specifically identified by their school, to be part of learning hubs. I made it out to a number of sites today to express my thanks and gratitude to the staff members who stepped forward to support students in this process, and to see some of our students in person for the first time since joining FUSD. Today was my favorite day!

Declaration Forms

Thanks to all our community members who reached out with questions, concerns, comments, and gratitude regarding our recent request for elementary families to make a declaration regarding returning to in-person instruction or remaining in distance learning. We’ve received over 13,000 responses and I look forward to sharing the results of that information later this week. As with most things related to returning students to campus, you’ll find that information on our FUSD Readiness Page, please look for that data to be posted later this week.

Many families have reached out regarding concerns about their child changing teachers, and I was also grateful to hear from teachers who share similar concerns. I know how important those connections are for both students and teachers and we are committed to minimizing those changes wherever possible. As you can imagine, our first focus is on students, and we needed to know how many were interested in returning to campus before we could know what our staffing needs are for in-person instruction. While it is not our intent to disrupt student and teacher relationships, it is important to note that providing both in-person instruction and a full-distance learning program, will require some adjustments. FUSD is committed to supporting both students and staff during this transition time and we will do our very best to minimize changes in students and staff.

As we begin to work toward meeting the students’ needs with appropriate staffing levels, we’ll provide additional communications on these details in the very near future.

If you have any questions and concerns, please feel free to visit our Readiness Dashboard. On that page you can find:

  • Form to submit questions/concerns

  • Q and A for reference on return to campus

  • FUSD’s COVID-19 Safety Plan

  • FUSD’s Elementary Proposal to FUDTA (Proposal Only - No Agreement has been reached)

  • FUSD’s Secondary Proposal to FUDTA (Proposal Only - No Agreement has been reached)

  • And this week we will be turning more buttons to green, “Complete” on our dashboard.

  • FUSD’s most recent presentation, or upcoming presentation to the Board of Education regarding a Return to Campus.

Thank you for your continued support.

CJ Cammack


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