June 15, 2020
Dear MUSD Staff and Parent Community,
Communication is incredibly important, especially in the midst of school districts, parents, and students, working through the challenges related to COVID-19. Although summer is here, the work related to finding our best path forward to safely reopen schools is happening non-stop. Today, I am writing for three (3) purposes:
To share gratitude
To make a request
To provide an update
First, my gratitude to the over 1000 parents/guardians that responded in less than three workdays to our recent parent/guardian survey on reopening schools. Additionally, thank you to the parents who took additional time to contact me directly to share your input and perspective on how MUSD should, or shouldn’t, reopen schools. The results will be shared out to everyone very early next week. Thus far, there is strong support for reopening our schools as a generalized concept and there are a diverse range of opinions about schedules and options related to how we structure the reopening of schools. As you can imagine, I received responses ranging from identified concerns about opening schools at all, to advocacy for reopening with a more traditional 5 days/week schedule with limited restrictions, along with many options in between. Having these responses helps us plan for additional options, details, and schedules, based on how many student/family responses. Please know, I am listening to and considering the input received, from all perspectives.
Second, I have a request for our parent community. I am asking that you each remain passionate regarding this important work, while also having ample amounts of patience in the coming weeks. It is clearly known and understood that the plans school districts implement, including MUSD, are not isolated to just “school schedules”. These schedules impact our families, our local economy, the overall physical and emotional health of adults and students, as well as the overall functioning of our community.
Collectively, there is a lot of work, advocacy, and research taking place as we continue to develop our plans. As a parent myself of incoming 8th and 5th-grade students, I too understand the intense need to know, in detail, the plans for what school will look like in August. Most specifically, how it will impact our children, our work, and how those combine to impact our family. I trust you all share those same thoughts and emotions. MUSD is working hard to balance the need for finalizing and sharing plans with careful consideration for all the options of how we can safely return to school.
The California Department of Education and the California Department of Public Health guidelines have only recently been released. As we review them in great detail, MUSD is also advocating for our schools, our students, and our community by seeking additional information and clarification related to the specific implementation of these guidelines in the plans for reopening MUSD schools in August. During this time, I ask that you stay connected to your thoughts and feelings about how schools should reopen and that grant as much patience as possible as we navigate these new challenges. I am very confident, MUSD will find a successful path forward, that meets the diverse needs and interests of our community.
Lastly, I want to provide an overall update on the upcoming time frame and sequence of events. Much has changed in recent weeks related to COVID-19 and the operation of local businesses and activities and we expect much more to change in the next 4-6 weeks. Thus, we have set a mid-July timeframe for making a final decision about how MUSD will reopen schools for August 2020. Until that time, MUSD will continue to monitor trends and revisions to any guidance on reopening schools, MUSD will continue to seek parent input, we will gather further staff input, and will continue to advocate for further development from health officials on guidelines related to physical distancing requirements, masks, and health screenings.
During this timeframe, MUSD will continue to analyze how we can return to the most normal, safe, and healthy structure for staff and students as safety remains our key focus. We must be prepared for a wide range of events, ensuring our plans can be responsive to changes in the spread of COVID-19, while also taking into account the vast needs of our students, parents, staff, and community. As a District, we desire to provide options for our students and staff that can meet the needs of our students and families while keeping our adults and children physically and emotionally safe.
At this moment, I cannot make a promise about what the final decision will be. I can, however, promise that our Task Force is working hard, there will be further opportunity for parent input, staff input, and I promise I will not stop working to try and create the best outcomes for everyone associated with MUSD.
Lastly, our AHS Administration and their Athletic Director are working to create opportunities for small structured groups to engage in physical conditioning activities in accordance with County Health guidelines and the newly released CIF/NCS guidelines. The requirements are very specific and require that each small group remain constant, with the same coach assigned to a single group, with physical distancing, no shared equipment, and no physical contact with others. Please be on the lookout for more information from the AHS Administration, Athletic Director, and/or sport-specific coaches in the coming days. You may review the specifics provided by the CIF and NCS here: (CIF/NCS Guidance)
In managing MUSD through a journey none of us have traveled, I would again like to express my gratitude to our Task Force, our staff, our Board of Education, and our overall parent community for the collective engagement and shared commitment to the success of our schools.
CJ Cammack, Superintendent
Martinez Unified School District