Superintendent's Newsletter

May 8, 2020

Dear MUSD Staff and Community,

Can you believe there are only three weeks left in the 2019-2020 school year? We often stride toward the end of each school with great excitement and we celebrate our accomplishments with a great sense of pride. With such a peculiar state of affairs due to COVID-19, this year is just simply not the same. COVID-19 has changed so much of our overall existence across the state and the nation, it can be challenging to navigate the complicated emotions associated with this pandemic. As we move through this home stretch, I encourage you all to keep focused on gratitude and pride.


The end of the year is not going to look or feel the same as usual, but your pride should remain. In fact, it should be even greater this year. Pride in overcoming the obstacles presented, pride in doing things no other students have ever done, pride in having teachers and support staff that did things no other educators have done before them. A pride that you are seeing your work and responsibility all the way through the end of the year.


Keep focused on gratitude throughout these challenging times. This is teacher/staff appreciation week and we are so grateful for our teachers, counselors, support staff, classified staff, and our district nurses. I want to share my gratitude to our students for meeting this challenge, to our staff for overcoming constant and ever-changing circumstances to provide the best for our students, our parents for pushing through this time with the best of their ability, and to our Board of Education and leadership team being so fully committed to our students. Since our school sites closed for COVID-19, we've done the following in MUSD to support students and families:


  • MUSD currently has 940 devices in the hands of students

  • MUSD has deployed 20 hot spots to assist with family access to internet services

  • MUSD held 8 student device deployment sessions for parent pick-up over the past eight weeks.

  • MUSD counselors have been directly supporting the work of students and staff.

  • MUSD special education staff and paras have been providing services to students, conducting IEP’s, and continuing to meet our legal obligations for IEP timelines, to the extent possible.

  • MUSD teacher and support staff have invested countless hours to develop and redesign traditionally face-to-face lessons into a virtual format

  • Food Service served an estimated 11,058 meals to our students


There are many discussions around the state, nation, and our local community and loosening restrictions for Shelter in Place orders and other related essential/non-essential activities. At this time, there are not any new developments impacting the operation of our school district. Sadly, we still don’t have any changes in our ability to hold in-person graduation/promotion events. We are working closely with County Officials to ensure that we can be ready for any changes in the restrictions. If and when we have that information I promise we’ll communicate with our families as soon as possible. We will keep holding the dates provided in last month’s message for potential in-person graduation events for MJHS, Vicente/Briones, and AHS. In the interim, please know we are working with our schools to try and find meaningful ways to honor the accomplishments of our students. Elementary principals are also working on plans to recognize their 5th-grade promotions as well.


Although challenging to manage, we are also turning our focus toward the start of next year. We have established a task force of teachers, support staff, classified staff, and administrators, to design conceptual plans for the start of school in August. This group will focus on designing potential models to address how we may open schools and abide by physical distancing requirements. In addition, we must be prepared for times in the future where we may need to move back to Distance Learning for short time periods in order to respond to changes in how the virus is spreading and impacting our schools and communities. As has been the case with so many things recently, this group will be faced with the challenge of creating new plans and models for how to ensure we are best supporting the academic and social development of our students.


Naturally, we all want all students back in traditional school schedules as soon as possible. However, we must plan for multiple scenarios that may be a reality as we transition back to school and engage in teaching and learning through new restrictions and requirements. Throughout all our work, the safety of our students and staff will be our most intense focus. As always, we will communicate with our entire community as quickly as possible.


We all know about how much this pandemic has negatively impacted our economy. The impact this has on our school systems across the state will be significant. I am hoping the federal government will recognize the need for an educationally specific intervention. As we await the Governor’s May Revise, MUSD is adjusting budget projections to prepare for significant decreases in revenue from the state of California. In the coming weeks, I’ll be drafting letters to our Federal Congress and Senate representatives to advocate for further fiscal assurances to protect education across the nation and in Martinez, in light of COVID-19.


Earlier this year, I shared with the community that we needed to cut roughly $1.5 million from our budget next year. While we are working our best to protect programs and personnel, it is noted that in some areas we will see reductions in programs. If you would like to see the draft plans for such reductions you can review them here, as they will be part of our Board of Education meeting on Monday. (Budget Reduction Plan)


As always, members of our community can contact me with any questions and concerns, and I’ll do my best to respond right away. Thank you for your continued partnership in the effort to serve our students and our community.


Sincerely,


CJ Cammack, Superintendent

Martinez Unified School District