June 25, 2020
Dear MUSD Staff and Parent Community,
I am hopeful this message finds you well, both physically and emotionally. I am writing today to provide you with an update regarding our newly established Equity Committee, as well as, an update on our plans for reopening schools in August. Please review the information provided below.
MUSD Equity Committee
I want to share with our staff and community the important steps MUSD is taking to make positive and lasting changes related to racial and social injustices within our schools. With a commitment to engage in this important and meaningful work, for the betterment of our community, our schools, and our students, through a collective effort in early June, MEA, CSEA, and Administration, established an Equity Committee. The need for change is very clear, and our Equity Committee will be working to carefully review our practices, procedures, systems, and actions, to analyze if we are normalizing equality and to analyze gaps or systematic failure to ensure equitable educational access to all students, critically looking at historically under-represented and underserved students.
This requires us to reflect on our own individual thoughts, practices, and actions, as well as our professional work in the climates we create in classrooms, the cultures we build in a school site, and the systems we design for serving students. This work is fully supported by our Board of Education and during our upcoming Board of Education meetings, we will review a resolution in support of this equity work and anti-racist practices.
In a spirit of shared leadership, the Equity Committee will be led by co-chairs from MEA, CSEA, and Administration. The co-chairs will help further define the goals, mission, and focus of the Equity Committee's work over the next few months and in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. In the very near future, we will be reaching out to gather volunteers from these respective groups who are interested in exploring this work further and analyzing how we can normalize equality and deconstruct practices that disenfranchise any members of our school system. I look forward to being a member of this committee. We will also be planning for ways to include parent and student voice in this committee as we move from initial planning to action steps.
Some actions and topics already discussed and identified include training for all staff on Unconscious Bias, analyzing our curriculum materials, and gathering first-hand knowledge from our student and parent population related to racial and social injustices in our schools. There is lots of work to do in MUSD, both in our schools and our community, to create a more equitable future. I am very confident this Equity Committee will be a great source of action and leadership in creating change throughout MUSD.
Reopening Schools in August
Thank you to all our staff and community members that have taken the time to complete our recent surveys. Your feedback has been incredibly helpful regarding the development of our plans for reopening MUSD schools in August of 2020. As has been the case with all things in the last few months, change is the one thing that is constant. Much has either changed in the last few days or much has become more clear in terms of guidance and directions from local and state agencies. As such, I wanted to provide the staff and our community with an update on our developing plans, as well as what can be expected in the coming weeks.
If you would like to review the most recent presentation I made to our Board of Education related to updated information on reopening schools, which also includes the community survey results you can review those documents here: June 22nd Board Update/Presentation
Additionally, I’d recommend you also review this document recently released by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, which includes a letter from our County Superintendent and our County Health Official. CCCOE Guidance
One key aspect of our planning and discussion has been related to how we might engage in health screening for our students and staff upon their return to school sites. A health screening will certainly be a part of our action plan for reopening schools. However, we are still working on the details of exactly what the health screening will entail. In the meantime, many parents have inquired with me about the use of temperature checks each day for students and/or staff. This has been an especially important discussion given the known factors of asymptomatic spread. Although I am not a medical professional, I thought it would be a helpful resource for you to review this recent statement from our County Health Services Department related to health screenings and temperature checks: CCHS Statement on Health Screening
In terms of recent updates from local and state agencies, there are a few new developments that I’d like to share with you. First, as you may be aware, the Governor recently enacted a new statewide face-covering mandate. Since it was announced late last week, there have been varying opinions about how the Governor’s new face-covering regulation applies to children under 12. Currently, based on the best information we have at the state level, we don’t believe much flexibility exists for how this applies to schools. I have included a link to the most recent publication from the California Department of Public Health. As a district, we will be working closely with our contacts at the state level and the county level to determine what type of discretion schools district may, or may not, have regarding this matter. Additionally, we will work very hard to also determine how face shields may also be considered for students and staff as is relates to face-covering requirements. Face Covering, new requirements
Next Steps: Monday night, our Board of Education set two Special Meetings for July (the 13th and the 20th), with the intent of having ample time to review the final draft plans for reopening and with the intent of making their final decisions with as much updated information as possible. The Board will be presented with a final draft plan on July 13th for review, discussion, and to provide feedback. Final changes and revisions will then be presented to the Board of Education on July 20th. July 21st, I will provide communication to our community regarding the final decisions for how we will reopen schools in August of 2020.
Until that time, please know, we will continue to work around the clock to identify the best methods of returning our students to school, while keeping students and staff as safe as possible. Additionally, we will continue to seek staff and parent input, please expect additional surveys to come forward. We will continue to work closely with our local County Health Department as well as remain in communication with state agencies. Our focus will also remain on the developments and trends related to the community spread of COVID-19 throughout the Bay Area and the county.
As I mentioned above, change is the one thing that has remained constant. Obviously, any decision made is subject to being temporary in nature based on COVID-19 trends and developments. I would like to thank all of you for your commitment and engagement in this process and a huge shout out to our Task Force members who have committed so much of their time to this work. I will continue to provide updates regularly to our staff and community throughout this process.
CJ Cammack, Superintendent
Martinez Unified School District