March 31st, 2021
Dear FUSD Community,
Thank you all for your continued patience during the recent months in preparation and negotiations for a return to campus. I am writing to provide our staff and community with important information about the remainder of the spring, high school graduations, and the fall of 2021.
Throughout this school year, I’ve been so grateful for the hard work of our facilities, maintenance, operations, transportation, and grounds staff for preparing our sites to reopen. The child nutrition staff has been simply amazing. Our classified support staff has continued their ongoing support of student success. Our teachers, counselors, and other educators have put forward a heroic effort to serve our students through distance learning. The team of administrations for FUSD has been working around the clock to support students and staff. There is truly much to celebrate and recognize related to the efforts to support students in FUSD. I want the recognition of this tremendous effort and work of our exceptional staff and students to be highlighted as that is what deserves the spotlight. Much of this incredible work has unfortunately been lost within the narrative surrounding our return to campus and the related negotiations. I am personally and professionally grateful for all the dedicated work of our staff in support of FUSD students.
Plans For The Remainder of Spring
Despite the amazing efforts outlined above, and our recent shift to the Orange Tier, regrettably, FUSD has not been able to reach a successful agreement for a return to school with the teachers union (FUDTA). The parties have been negotiating on this topic since October.
Despite a good-faith effort at the negotiations table from FUSD, including fair and focused proposals, air filters placed in every classroom, safety protocols beyond current state and local guidance, and ready access to vaccines, our negotiations have not yielded a timely agreement aligned with the District’s intention to provide in-person instruction to the maximum extent possible for all students. FUSD and FUDTA have not been able to reach an agreement on some key issues related to offering all students the chance to return to campus including staffing, the scope of grade levels eligible for a full return, and additional compensation for employees to return under a hybrid instructional model. If you’d like to review FUSD’s proposals for a return to in-person instruction under a hybrid model, they can be found here. Links to prior FUSD and FUDTA proposals can be found on our reopening page as well.
We have roughly 43 school days between now and the end of this instructional year and no definitive final outcome in sight related to reaching an agreement with FUDTA. The District recognizes this creates both difficult circumstances for our families in relation to planning and unclear expectations for our students, as well as our staff. Given the above circumstances, the District is moving on from negotiations of a return to campus under a hybrid model. The District will focus our action and efforts toward bringing more students on campus through the rapid expansion of our existing learning hubs.
Although this means FUSD will remain in distance learning for the rest of this school year and will miss out on additional funding (roughly $9-million based on the last proposed start date of April 19th), the District is focused on creating more on-campus experiences for students this spring. Our current hubs have shown themselves to be safe spaces on campus where students can interact with one another and participate successfully in their distance learning program, and we are excited to expand this on-campus learning opportunity to serve more students. Additionally, schools will be working to create opportunities for students to gather in stable and appropriate-sized groups for social interactions. This expansion of our learning hubs are not exclusively dependent on a negotiated agreement.
For some of our community, this decision will align with your stated preference to remain in distance learning and eliminate student/teacher reassignments. For others, I understand this decision will be disappointing as you desired an immediate and full return. The District remains committed to creating the opportunity for those who want to be back on campus, to return under an expanded learning hub model. Additional information will be made available to families upon our return from Spring Break, on April 12th.
I remain confident that all our FUSD staff across the entire district will be fully committed to providing the best for their students over the next 43 days, just as they have done so well for the last year.
Return in Fall of 2021
Many have asked about FUSD’s plans for our return in the fall. Provided conditions of COVID remain on the current trend and vaccine progress continues, I am excited to share with you that FUSD is making great strides in our plans for a full return to in-person instruction in the fall of 2021. FUSD will also provide opportunities for students to enroll in virtual learning academies at all levels (elementary, middle, and high school) for students that may have a personal and/or medical need for a distance learning program. District Administration will be sharing information about these plans during our April 21, 2021, Board of Education meeting. Of course, universal mitigation strategies and precautions will remain in place, and our COVID-19 mitigation and response measures will align with the developing local and state guidelines for students and staff, as we recognize COVID will still be with us in the fall.
Graduation Guidance Released
I am pleased to share the current guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health provide an allowance for outdoor in-person graduation events. It is anticipated that Alameda County will mirror these guidelines and recommendations as well. In the current moment, all signs are pointing toward outdoor in-person graduations with some limitations on the number of attendees. Our High School administrators and their staff are already hard at work planning for how to make this a meaningful experience for these seniors who’ve already missed so many milestone events. Let’s keep working to knock COVID-19 out so we can celebrate these amazing students in person! Stay safe, keep your distance, wear your mask, wash your hands, and if you are able - get vaccinated.