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COVID-19 SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS


July 28, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,
We realize that everyone is eager for answers as to what school routines will look like when the new school year begins. With this in mind, we have designed the AUSD Safe Schools Parent And Student Reopening Guidebook. It provides a road map for how our schools will operate in the 2020-21 school year. The guidebook along with all communications and updates are posted on our COVID-19 page on our website. The Guidebook, our Reopening Plan, and the list of Frequently Asked Questions and other resources are located on the page. 


July 24, 2020

Dear AUSD Community,

I hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy. I want to reiterate that our goal remains to return to face-to-face learning if the rules and regulations permit. We believe it is our moral imperative, when safe and possible, to provide the option for students to return to school and learn in classrooms with teachers.

While the last several months have been challenging, and the regulations around reopening schools continue to evolve and change, we have designed our instructional program to meet the academic, health, and safety needs of our students, staff, and families.

Our reopening plan for schools is designed to adapt to changing public health conditions and easily transition to face-to-face learning, distance learning, or a hybrid model. Below are key updates.

On Friday, July 17, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the following regarding reopening schools for in-person instruction:

  1. Schools cannot reopen until the county in which they reside is off the state monitoring list for at least 14 consecutive days.
  2. Once schools reopen, masks will be required for all staff and students in 3rd grade and above. Masks are recommended for younger students.
  3. Once schools reopen, staff must maintain six feet of distance from each other and from students.
  4. Staff must be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis (every two months).
  5. Distance learning must be rigorous and include daily, live interaction with teachers and other students. Schools must ensure all students have access to devices and internet access.

What do the new rules and regulations mean for Alpine Union schools?

  1. There will be three phases to reopening our schools.
    1. Phase One - Distance Learning: Due to the public health order and Governor Newsom’s announcement, AUSD will begin the school year with distance learning.
    2. Phase Two - Hybrid Model: When we are able to return to face-to-face instruction, we will implement our A/B Day hybrid model as a transition to being fully back on campus. Under this model, students will attend school in person two days a week (Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday) and participate in three days of distance learning. We will ensure that siblings are placed on the same schedule.
    3. Phase Three - Full return to school: A return to face-to-face instruction Tuesday through Friday. Students will participate in Distance Learning on Monday.
  2. August 19, which was the scheduled first day of school, will be a training and/or preparation day for all staff to ensure they are ready for the launch of distance learning. Monday, April 5, 2021, which was scheduled as a non-student day, will now be a student day to ensure 180 instructional days for the year.
  3. August 20 and 21 will be student assessment days. Teachers will complete virtual academic assessments of students. Since our teachers will not be able to meet in person with students, we believe it is essential to begin the year with as much knowledge as possible on each child’s academic level.
August 20, 2020 Student assessments
August 21, 2020 Student assessments
August 24, 2020 Distance Learning begins
  1. Many parents and staff have asked about the waiver process to reopen schools. The waiver option was listed as a footnote in the California Department of Health Framework, and we have inquired and are waiting to hear specifics from our County Public Health Office.
  2. Please make sure to complete the 2020-21 Student Learning Model Registration form. While we will be starting the school year with distance learning, it is imperative that we have your child registered for their preferred model of learning for when we return to face-to-face learning. The link to the registration form is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PSV68FS

These decisions have been made with careful consideration of the needs of our students and staff. I want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring a high-quality education for all our students. Our Distance Learning program has been redesigned to more closely resemble a regular school day schedule with multiple windows throughout the day for students to meet with teachers for whole class, small group, and individual instruction.

While there has not been a single decision during this pandemic that has been simplistic, we have not wavered from our goal of serving our students and the Alpine community in a way that ensures the health and safety of everyone and with respect and dignity for all viewpoints. Thank you for your patience, encouragement, and support. We are grateful for you and are in this together!

Respectfully,

Dr. Rich Newman

Proud Superintendent

Alpine Union School District


July 21, 2020 TOWN HALL PRESENTATION

Click on the icon below for the presentation

We will be offering the following four learning model options for the 2020-21 school year. 

July 16, 2020

We realize that there are many questions about the reopening of our schools. We will be hosting an AUSD Town Hall meeting to share specifics of the plan. Please submit any questions you might have to returntoschool@alpineschools.net.

July 16, 2020

We are continuing our plans to reopen schools on August 19. To ensure that your child is placed in the learning model of your choice and we are able to staff appropriately, the 2020-21 Student Learning Model Registration form is required to be filled out for each student. The registration period will be open until July 27, 2020. If a registration form is not completed for each child we will not be able to place your child in a learning model. 

Parents registering for a learning model will have the flexibility of changing models. We will provide a window at the end of September for families to reassess their learning model choice for their children. To complete the 2020-21 Student Learning Model Registration form please access the link below.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PSV68FS

July 15, 2020

Dear AUSD families,

I hope this email finds you and your family safe and well. We know the last several months have been challenging for everyone as we have adjusted to the changes that have occurred as a result of COVID-19. We wanted to provide you with an update on the preparations our schools have been making to reopen our facilities and resume in-classroom instruction.

First, as we have stated before, our goal remains that if the rules and regulations permit schools to operate in person, we believe it is our moral imperative, when safe and possible, to provide the option for students to return to school and learn in classrooms with teachers.

Our focus remains on reopening schools in August with students attending classes in person. In short, we plan to offer in-person learning Tuesday - Friday. In addition, we will also offer a full-time distance learning model, independent study, and a homeschool option.

In the coming days, you will be asked to complete the 2020-21 Student Learning Model Registration form. It is essential that you complete it as soon as possible so we can effectively plan staffing models and ensure that your child is placed in the learning model of your choice. Parents registering for a learning model will have the flexibility of changing models. We will provide a window at the end of September for families to reassess their learning model choice for their children.

As we continue to move forward together, I want to thank you for your continued patience, support, commitment, and trust in our District. While school procedures and protocols may look different in our new reality, I want to reassure you that the heart of our work remains focused on providing the best educational programs to our students. Our commitment to our mission is unwavering and we are proud to be able to serve our Alpine community.

Sincerely,
Dr. Rich Newman
Proud Superintendent


July 9, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

We are continuing to prepare for the opening of schools on August 19th and wanted to share an important update. First, we know that the process of reopening and adapting to a new reality, and a host of new procedures, will be challenging. As we have done throughout this ordeal, we will work together, persevere, and make sure our students, staff, and families are supported in every way possible.

On Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the Board of Trustees approved the AUSD Reopening Schools Plan, which includes a return to face-to-face learning in the classroom four days a week, Tuesday through Friday. Monday will be a day in which students will be participating in distance learning. This will also provide custodial staff with the ability to deep clean our campuses on a weekly basis. In addition to our on-site option, we will offer home school, independent study, and distance learning options for those parents who would prefer that their child not return to learning at the school site.

As I have shared in a previous communication, I believe that if the rules and regulations permit schools to operate in person, it is our moral imperative, when safe and possible, to provide the option for students to return to school and learn in classrooms with teachers.

In the very near future, you will be receiving a communication in which you will be able to register and choose the learning option for your child for the coming school year. For now, we want you to know that our focus is on creating a safe and healthy learning environment and ensuring that you are kept up to date on our plan to open schools.

I also want to take this time to thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time. As you know, the public health situation can change at any time. Our commitment to you is that we will do everything we can to keep our students and staff safe, and to share updates with our community as we move forward. We are looking forward to reopening and seeing your child again in the very near future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proud Superintendent 


June 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted every facet of our lives. Each of us has been forced to make changes to our daily life that would have been unimaginable prior to this moment in time. Since our schools closed on March 13, 2020, we have been asked to limit our interactions with others, wear face coverings, and alter our very way of life. We realize that these changes are overwhelming, especially for children, and that many of their days have been filled with our shared sense of uncertainty, trauma, and grief.

Our children will continue to navigate in a very uncertain world, and as a District, our goal is to create a safe, healthy and welcoming environment where our students can find their passions and reach their potential. We believe strongly that schools are essential to ensuring our students are prepared to be both successful citizens and future leaders. In education, we often discuss the importance of teaching critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These four “C”s are considered vital skills that students must master to be successful in the 21st century. However, especially in this time of COVID-19, our students have been forced to miss out on another critically important “C” -- Connection.

We believe that connecting students and helping them develop strong peer relationships is critical to their development. Our students need the opportunity to learn and grow from each other, make mistakes, try new things, and be present with peers in a safe and healthy learning environment. Because each student is unique, they are also best served when working directly with a teacher, getting immediate support and help when needed. If the rules and regulations permit schools to operate in person, we believe it is our moral imperative, when safe and possible, to provide the option for students to return to school and learn in classrooms with teachers.

We have taken the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Department of Education, and other agencies to develop our plan for reopening schools. In fact, we have adopted the CDPH guidelines, which we are required to follow, and put together a plan for how AUSD schools will operate going forward. It is our hope that as we begin to return to “regular” routines, we will once again be able to provide our students with a safe and nurturing learning environment.

Our plan also provides options for those parents who would prefer not to return to school at this time. We realize that we will need to remain flexible, and adjust our plans to accommodate the changing needs of our students and families. In addition, we must be ready to adapt to changes that may result from shifts in health conditions, as we will likely see school closures as outbreaks occur. To that end, we have built an adaptable and flexible plan that provides a range of learning options and provides the flexibility for parents to make changes to their child’s learning option while also meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

I hope you will take some time to read our plan and take our short survey. Please note the purpose of this survey is only to help us plan for next year and get an idea of instructional option interest. You will have an opportunity later in the summer to formally register for the option that will work best for your family. This survey should take you about 5-10 minutes to complete. We have also created an email address, returntoschool@alpineschools.net which can be used to share your ideas and questions. We appreciate your open and honest feedback and look forward to the reopening of schools.

In partnership,
Dr. Rich Newman
Proud Superintendent
Alpine Union


June 12, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

With the school year now over and summer upon us, I wanted to share a few updates regarding next school year. First, I want to thank all of our staff, parents, and families for making the end of year drive-through and virtual celebrations a reality. While this is not what any of us had anticipated at the beginning of the year, I am deeply appreciative of the work to come together as one community to create unique and personal celebrations to honor and recognize our students and their achievements.

As many of you are aware, the California Department of Education and California Department of Public Health recently released guidelines on how to safely open schools. The guidelines provide a range of options to consider, including different school scenarios. We realize that the guidelines change often and we wanted to share what these and other guidelines mean for our students, staff, and families in Alpine Union.

First, we will continue to work closely with the San Diego County Public Health Department and San Diego County Office of Education to create a plan to safely reopen schools in the fall. Recently, we asked AUSD families to complete a survey about their child’s experience in distance learning and options for learning next year. The results of the survey are available by clicking here. In the survey, 71% of our parents preferred that their child returns to school full time in the fall. We realize that the pandemic has had a significant impact on all of us, especially our students. In fact, 61% of our parents also shared that during this time of distance learning that they are somewhat or extremely concerned about their child’s social and emotional health.

We take seriously the ideas of our community and are working to balance these ideas with health department requirements. Our goal, if possible, is to return to school full time in the fall and make sure our students receive the best education in person as possible. This includes providing social and emotional support for our students. However, we are also developing and planning for a range of learning models in the fall. These include a distance learning option for those who would prefer to learn online, and continuing to offer our home school and independent study options. As plans continue to solidify, we will provide our parents with the opportunity to select their final preferences via another survey so that we can be prepared to best serve every student in our district.

I will continue to share updates throughout the summer and as more details become available. As always, we thank you for your continued support and wish you and your family a safe and healthy summer.

Sincerely,
Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Proud Superintendent


June 2, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope that you and your family are well and safe. Over the last three months, our lives have changed dramatically. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted every facet of our lives. All of us have been forced to change the way we live in very profound ways.

Our children are being asked to navigate a very uncertain world. They have been asked to stay inside, not play with friends, wear a face covering, and not attend school. We realize that these changes are overwhelming, especially for children, and has filled many of their days with trauma, grief, and uncertainty.

The recent events that have unfolded across the country will add to the anxiety and uneasiness our students are feeling about the world. We realize that the scenes occurring in our nearby neighborhoods and elsewhere may be upsetting, confusing, and scary to our students. Students may also feel angry and distressed during this time, uncertain about the curfews that are occurring in San Diego, and concerned about media reports from streets they may recognize. This may raise the stress and anxiety for students on top of what they may already be feeling due to the coronavirus and school closures.

Our thoughts are very much focused on supporting our students, families, and staff during this difficult time. Our mental health staff is standing by to support our students, you and your family. Please reach out to your school principal to learn more about the available services and supports we can provide.

Additionally, the following resources and prompts can be used to guide discussions with your children and build their sense of safety, caring, and security.

  • What are ways we can be kind and show others that we care about them?
  • What’s one thing that makes you feel safe? How can others help you feel safe and cared for?
  • Who is an adult you can talk to if you ever feel worried, scared, or upset?
  • What is one word you could use to describe how you’re feeling right now?
  • What’s one thing you can do to feel safe when you are feeling scared?
  • What’s one thing others can do to help make you feel safe and cared for?
  • What’s one thing you can do to make others – in your family or in your community/school - feel safe and cared for?

Helpful links:

https://www.mhanational.org/talking-kids-about-fear-and-violence
https://www.mhanational.org/helping-children-cope-tragedy-related-anxiety
https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate
safety-and-crisis/school-violence-resources/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers

Sincerely,
Dr. Newman
Proud Superintendent
Alpine Union


May 15, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope this email finds you safe and healthy. As we are fast approaching the last weeks of the 2019-20 school year, I wanted to share that we have made the decision that our school campuses will not physically reopen this school year. Even though the Governor and San Diego County officials are slowly reopening some public areas and businesses, the current COVID-19 situation does not meet the state or county requirements that will allow us to safely reopen schools before the summer.

PLANNING FOR THE 2020-21 SCHOOL SURVEY

We are actively planning for the 2020-21 school year. When we return to school in the fall many things will likely be changed including new procedures for students and staff, a much greater use of online and digital tools, flexible schedules, the potential of more temporary school closures, and more learning options for parents to choose for their students. In addition to changes to our traditional full-time in-school instruction, we will be expanding our independent, home school, and hybrid learning options that include a combination of online learning and in-school instruction, and we will offer a vibrant distance learning program. To plan for the future, we want to capture your thinking and identify your preferences and interest in possible models of teaching and learning for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Please click here to complete the parent survey. The survey will be open until Friday, May 29, 2020.

PROMOTION CEREMONIES

This year has created many changes and forced our students to miss out on many of the time-honored traditions such as walking the stage for eighth-grade promotion or saying goodbye to elementary school or having friends sign each other’s yearbooks. We are committed to recognizing our students’ achievements and celebrating them, even if it is not what we had all hoped or planned to do. Each school (BOES, CELC, JMMS, MVLA, SHES) will hold a drive-through promotion parade and virtual ceremony. These events will include students with their families driving onto their decorated school campus with their family, past cheering staff, to be recognized. This will allow for some closure and celebration at the end of the school year.

PICK UP AND DROP OFF OF MATERIALS

Our schools will soon be notifying families and students how they can return and retrieve belongings from campus in the coming weeks. Students who will be returning next year will be able to keep their Chromebooks over the summer. Eighth-grade students and those not returning next year will have a time scheduled to drop off the Chromebooks checked out from the District. We plan to continue to provide Chromebooks to our students next year and will be providing low-cost insurance plans for purchase to protect against the cost of replacing damaged Chromebooks.

I very much look forward to the time we are all back on campus. Until then, stay well and healthy. As always, thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Proud Superintendent


May 1, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy! As we come to the end of the second week of distance learning I wanted to share a few thoughts and updates. First, I am extremely proud of the work that is going on in our virtual classrooms. I have had the opportunity to sit in on several Zoom classroom lessons this week, including an elementary math lesson, a directed draw lesson with our kindergarten students, and complete a middle school PE workout. I am truly amazed by the engagement of our students and the remarkable efforts of our teachers and staff to keep students connected to academic content. I also want to thank each of you for all you are doing in these difficult times to support your children and their learning. I know it is a strain on families and I appreciate the collaborative efforts of all to keep our kiddos moving forward.

Earlier this week Governor Newsom mentioned the possibility of an early start to the 2020-21 school year. It is important to know that no order has been given to California school districts to adjust their established 2020-21 school calendars. While we share the goal to get students and teachers back into the classroom as soon and as safely as possible, an early start to the next school year may not be feasible and at this point in time, we have no definitive plans to do so. School calendars take a great deal of planning and coordination and any changes could have major fiscal implications. At this point, we do not see starting the 2020-21 school year in July as a likely option for us.

I recognize that one of the questions everyone has at this time is, "When will we be back?" There is no question I would like to answer more than this one, and it is just as difficult for me to not be able to give an answer as it is for you to not receive one. My commitment to you is to monitor the day-to-day briefings from the Governor, coordinate with the San Diego County Office of Education and local health officials, and take guidance from the California Department of Education as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Know that we want our students back in class as soon as it is safe and as soon as we get the green light to do so. We are planning to recognize our fifth and eighth-grade students this year with a virtual promotion and drive-through ceremony.

Lastly, there has been a lot of speculation about what school might look like for students in the fall. Because health orders at the federal, state, and local levels change so frequently, it is not possible to predict what guidelines and restrictions will be in place in August. The District is planning for many options to ensure that students, families, and staff are supported and safe as we move into the 2020-21 school year. One such option is a robust distance learning program for those that would prefer to continue utilizing that model into the next school year. As information and details are available, we will share those with you. We will also be sending a survey out in the near future to get your feedback.

As always, we appreciate your continued support. Together we will come back stronger than ever!

Sincerely,

Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Proud Superintendent


April 25, 2020

Click here for Dr. Newman's video.





April 14, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15, we will launch distance learning for all AUSD students. I am very proud of our staff who have done an incredible job moving to a fully online learning program in a very short period of time. I hope you will take a moment and watch the following video as it outlines our distance learning plan.

Click here to access the AUSD Distance Learning Plan. 


April 1, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

There are many questions circulating after remarks by Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond about if and when California campuses will reopen this school year.

I want to be very clear that the 2019-20 school year is not over. It has just transitioned from classroom instruction into distance learning. As Superintendent Thurmond said today, “schools are closed but classes are in.” As I shared in my message yesterday, our mission remains the same as it did before this crisis. We will work to ensure that each student receives the education that he or she deserves and needs to build a bright future. The purpose of our distance learning plan and related educational activities is to teach students essential standards and content and to keep students working toward end-of-year expectations.

Alpine Union and the San Diego County Office of Education continue to carefully monitor guidance from federal, state, and local public health and education agencies. All decisions about when and if we will reopen will be made in conjunction with local public health officials.

We remain extremely concerned about the social and emotional well-being of all of our students and are working on ways to stay connected even at a distance. We also know that many students are very concerned about missing out on end-of-year activities and celebrations. Please know that we are planning how we might offer these experiences in different formats and/or at a later date.

While we continue to hold out hope that campuses will be safe to reopen later this spring, or at a minimum to celebrate our students’ promotions, we are focused on transitioning into a new way of teaching and learning to meet the health and safety impacts of COVID-19. We will launch distance learning for our students on April 15.

While we recognize this situation poses challenges and hardship to many families, the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic – and therefore get back to normal -- is by continuing to implement social distancing practices. I continue to be grateful to Alpine and all of the members of our school community for everything you are doing during this unique and difficult time.

I appreciate your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time. In the meantime, please trust that we are doing everything in our power to prioritize student safety, keep our community updated, and work toward the goal of getting our teachers and learners back together as soon as we can.

Sincerely,
Dr. Rich Newman

Proud Superintendent


March 31, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and adjusting to these difficult times. It is an understatement to say that our world is a dramatically different place than it was just a few weeks ago. I want to thank all of you for your patience and support as we navigate the new uncharted territory of this COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Our District and school staff continue to meet each day to monitor the situation, review updates from public health officials and plan our distance learning program.

In a meeting today, all San Diego County superintendents agreed that schools and school districts need to remain closed until further notice to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This joint decision is supported by the San Diego County Public Health Department and the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. At the same time, Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Instruction, communicated today that “due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year.”

We will bring you any future updates as soon as they are available. However, I wanted to share some important updates:

DISTANCE LEARNING
Our District will begin remote learning for all students on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. We are committed to creating a distance learning plan that serves all students and provides a reasonable balance for you and your student(s).

We will utilize Google Classroom as the primary source for our distance learning program. We will also be utilizing Zoom, and other web-based programs. These programs include opportunities for interactive video, audio, screen sharing, chat, and local recording features.

Our goal is to ensure that lessons are reasonable and meaningful so that students can remain engaged and learning can continue during this time. You will hear from your child’s teachers by Tuesday, April 14, with information about their learning plan and Google Classroom site.

We will continue to provide Chromebooks for students who need a device from 11:00-12:00 each Monday at Boulder Oaks Elementary. We have made wifi accessible in the parking lot at BOES, CELC, JMMS, and SHES and are looking at other ways to support students and families who need internet access.

COMMUNICATION
Communication with families is critical. We ask you to confirm that your contact information is accurate in Synergy so communication can be received.

GRADING
Our mission remains the same as it did before this crisis: We will work to ensure that each student receives the education that he or she deserves and needs to build a bright future. The purpose of our distance learning plan and related educational activities is to teach students essential standards and content and to keep students working toward end-of-year expectations. Teachers will provide their students with feedback on work and assignments that are turned in for review.

MEALS
We will continue to provide Grab and Go meals for students each Monday from 11:00-12:00 at Boulder Oaks Elementary.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLNESS SERVICES
We will provide access to our counselor and social worker Monday through Friday each week during the closure. Principals will be sharing more information in the coming week

PROMOTION
It is highly likely that we will face similar social distance restrictions in June that would impact promotions. I believe promotions are one of the most important events of a young person’s life. I am committed to finding a way to enable families to celebrate the achievement of their child promoting from school.

I ask for your patience, grace, and support as we enter this new phase of excellence in Alpine Union. I have so much confidence in and admiration for ALL of our employees. I am also in awe of the resilience of our students and the strength and resolve of the people and families in our community. I am inspired by the actions of our staff and community and the stories I have heard of our community coming together to help one another during this time of crisis.

With much appreciation,

Dr. Newman