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COVID-19 SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS

October 7, 2020

Dear AUSD families,

We are almost two and a half weeks into our return to face-to-face learning and I wanted to provide a few updates. First, I am pleased to share that the opening of our hybrid learning model has gone exceptionally well. Overall, our teachers and students have been adjusting very well to the new procedures and protocols, while also adapting to a new model of instruction. The one constant that has provided us a healthy, safe, and smooth opening is the united effort of our school staff to keep our students, families, and community safe.

To prepare for phase three, which is a return to face-to-face learning four days a week, we are monitoring the following to ensure our district’s preparedness: the effectiveness of our current schedules and strategy; the number of students who are opting for each learning model; community rates of COVID spread; staffing scenarios; and, most importantly, the strength of our health and safety protocols. In the near future, our Board will make a determination on the date for our phase three return to face-to-face learning.

There has never been a bigger moment to examine our education system and improve our practices to further close opportunity gaps and support the unique needs of our students. As part of our continual improvement process, we are launching Operation Home Court Advantage, which is focused on directing all of our District’s human, financial, and knowledge resources to mitigate the learning loss that has occurred as a result of the school closures and distance learning. In short, we are focusing on a well-rounded approach to providing increased services and safety measures. Here are some recent changes we have made to our schools

  • Added over 2,000 new K - 8th grade digital and audiobooks to our Sora Digital Library, including Spanish titles in every grade.
  • Increased student digital curriculum options, including adding science and social studies content for our students using IXL in grades three and above.
  • Added additional tutoring options at each of our schools with Tutors4sd.org.
  • Increased our special education staff to provide additional support in speech, occupational therapy, and other special education services.
  • Updated the social studies curriculum for our middle school students.
  • Piloting a new digital science curriculum that would span K-8 and offer both English and Spanish instruction.
  • Increased our social and emotional outreach to students.
  • Updated our technology infrastructure and hardware, including new Chromebooks, docucams, and digital learning tools.
  • Provided hotspots to our families who have unreliable or no internet access.
  • Hired additional custodial staff at all schools, including the use of an outside cleaning firm to train and assist our custodial staff in best practices to clean our schools.
  • Equipped every school with at least two electrostatic cleaners.
  • Scheduled drive through COVID-19 testing at JMMS for all staff twice a month.
  • Provided Grab and Go meals for all students 18 years old and younger.

We are in the process of implementing the following supports to our schools.

  • Hiring additional teachers for every school to support our teachers and students and increase our ability to provide personalized attention to our students.
  • Creating a unique one of a kind tutoring program for our students by channeling the expertise of all of our support staff to design an 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM tutoring program.
  • Updating our air filtration and ventilation systems at all schools.
  • Launching new training for our staff to support their development as teachers.
  • Launching a new option on our COVID-19 webpage to provide complete transparency and an accurate picture of COVID-19 cases associated with our schools.

As you can tell, our staff are working incredibly hard to lead in a very challenging new environment. I am proud of the innovative and student-centered approach our District is taking. These are dynamic times, therefore we want to be upfront that some changes to our learning model may occur as we continue to adapt and update our strategy and support for our students. As always, we thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Dr. Newman
Proudest Superintendent of Earth

September 18, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

You may have heard the news that the County of San Diego may be moved on Tuesday to the lowest tier of the state reopening system and wonder what it means for Alpine Union. Because our waiver to reopen campuses was approved by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), we will be allowed to stay open if the county moves to the lowest tier on Tuesday.

As we open on Monday it is imperative that everyone follow the protocols that we have designed. Over the last several months we have developed and adjusted our safe schools reopening plan to ensure that we adapt to the changing conditions. Additionally, I am pleased to share that we are one of the first school districts in the county to have implemented COVID-19 surveillance testing for all of our employees.

We ask that you monitor your student for any signs of illness each day such as cough, shortness of breath, runny nose and fever at home before coming to school. Anyone with a fever of 100°F or more should not go to a school site. Those experiencing symptoms including persistent cough, shortness of breath, or runny nose should not attend school, even if no fever is present. All students will be required to wear a face covering, and student temperatures will be taken upon entering classes and buildings.

Lastly, I ask for your patience and grace as we begin this new chapter of learning. Our staff have worked incredibly hard to make this opening as seamless as possible. Everything we do on Monday will be different from years past. We will all be learning together while we balance the need to reduce the spread of the coronavirus with the desire to get students into more productive learning environments.

We look forward to seeing our students once again back on campus.

Stay well and healthy,

Dr. Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth

September 15, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

We are excited to share that next Monday we will begin phase two of our reopening schools plan with students returning to our campuses for face-to-face learning. At each school site, one cohort of students have been assigned to attend school for face-to-face learning on Mondays and Tuesdays, and another cohort of students will attend school on Thursdays and Fridays. Distance learning will continue to occur online the days in which students are not on campus. Those students in a complete distance learning environment will also continue their learning online.

CONNECTION
Since schools closed on Friday, March 13, 2020 we have continued to be concerned about the social and emotional well-being of all of our students. We also realize that with the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, parents may opt to move back and forth between face-to-face and distance learning during the year. In fact, one of the biggest concerns we have heard from families is the fear of losing their connection to their school and teacher this year if they choose to have their child participate in face-to-face or distance learning.

We have intentionally designed our hybrid learning model around building and maintaining relationships and connections by having students remain in a class that is stable and consistent throughout the year and not have students switch back and forth between a different distance learning and face-to-face teacher. Each class will comprise both face-to-face and distance learning students. Since approximately 84% of our parents have chosen to have their child return to face-to face learning there is not a large number of students who prefer only distance learning.

GRAB AND GO MEALS
We will continue to provide free Grab and Go meals for all children 18 and under at JMMS each Monday.

LUNCH
Each school will continue to provide bagged or boxed lunches for students. We ask that you use our online portal to prepay for lunches, which is located on our website.

BUSSING
We will continue to provide bussing for students to school albeit will be slightly reduced this year. Similar to most districts, the Board has approved a transportation zone that would provide home to school transportation for students who live 1 ½ miles or more from school. All students will be required to wear face coverings on the bus and will be socially distanced as much as possible. Registration for bussing can be accessed via our district website.

FACE COVERINGS
When we return to school for face-to-face learning, all students will be required to wear a face covering (face mask or shield). Students may remove their face coverings during lunch, PE, and recess but will be required to have them on while in the classroom, even when sitting behind the plastic desk dividers. Only students that meet one of the exemptions outlined in the California Department of Public Health Guidelines and have the required medical documentation will be exempt.

Previously, we shared that face coverings would only be required for students in grades three and above. We made the change requiring all students to wear face coverings for the following safety concerns. First, we set a goal of opening our schools for face-to-face learning and want to ensure we do everything in our power to keep our schools open and operating. Many of our staff have also shared concerns about contracting COVID-19 and want to be able to feel safe and comfortable so that they can focus on teaching and learning. Classroom schedules have also been designed to ensure students are not wearing a face covering for longer than two hours at a time without a break.

WELLNESS
We ask that you monitor your student for any signs of illness each day such as cough, shortness of breath, runny nose and fever at home before coming to school.

Anyone with a fever of 100°F or more should not go to a school site. Those experiencing symptoms including persistent cough, shortness of breath, or runny nose should not attend school, even if no fever is present.

We know next week will be filled with excitement and nervousness.We look forward to this next phase in reopening our schools, and as always, appreciate your continued support. Lastly, if you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to your child’s principal.

Stay well,

Dr. Newman

Proudest Superintendent on Earth

September 8, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

We are continuing to monitor the Valley Fire situation very closely. Given the active nature of the fire, San Diego County Sheriff Gore and the Office of Emergency Services, are encouraging all of us to be prepared to evacuate with very little notice. The fire has tripled in the last four days, and Santa Ana winds are expected to impact our community beginning this evening.

We realize that many of our students, families, and staff have been impacted by the Valley Fire. We are here to help and assist in any way possible. Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance. Joan MacQueen remains an active temporary relocation center for community members and their pets.

All District personnel, other than essential staff, will be working from home for the remainder of the week. Distance Learning will continue but our staff are mindful of what our students need at this time, and will be available to provide the support necessary.

Lastly, I want to take a moment to remind each of you to review your evacuation plan, be prepared, stay informed and sign up for updates at www.readysandiego.org.

We will get through this together united as one community.

Stay safe,
Dr. Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth


September 7, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope each of you is staying safe and healthy. Over the last few months our students, staff, families and community have dealt with extraordinary difficulties: a pandemic, a return to distance learning, blackouts—and now evacuations due to wildfires.

The Valley Fire has made the last few days trying for our community. Many staff and families have been impacted and will continue to be displaced. Power is out in parts of east county and evacuation orders continue to change by the moment. The JMMS gym is currently serving as a temporary evacuation center and will continue to be available to individuals who evacuate over the next few days.

We have been coordinating efforts with the Red Cross, emergency and fire personnel and county staff. Santa Ana winds are also anticipated to hit our community tomorrow night. In consultation with Alpine Fire Marshall, Jason McBroom, all staff except essential staff, will remain home tomorrow. However, our Grab and Go meal pick will take place at JMMS from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Our ESS program and our CELC preschool will not be in operation. In addition, the Learning Pods at JMMS will not be able to take place this week due to the gym being used as an evacuation center.

As always, we will continue to provide all supports possible to our Alpine and surrounding communities.

Stay safe,

Rich 

August 26, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I am thrilled that the 2020-2021 school year is finally underway. Our goal of reopening our schools for face-to-face learning is now close to reality.

For the last several months, we have been preparing for the return of our staff and students to campus. We have developed and updated our reopening schools plan with every new public health order. We have purchased pallets of hand sanitizer, face coverings, personal protective equipment, electrostatic cleaners, Chromebooks, new digital books and tools, and much more, all with the goal of reopening our schools with a sound plan in place. We are also finalizing an agreement with the San Diego County Office of Education to provide free hotspots to our families who do not have reliable internet access.

To ensure that we had the option to open our schools, even if San Diego remained on the county watchlist, we submitted an Elementary School waiver. Yesterday, we were notified that the county and state approved our waiver. In fact, we were one of only four public school districts in San Diego county to receive a waiver approval. We have reassigned many of our staff, including bus drivers, instructional aides, and food and nutrition staff, to support our families in our Extended Student Services child care program. We were also the first school district in the state of CA to design and develop a Learning Pod option for our parents. In short, we have been focused on adapting our district to meet the challenges our families face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While our goal is to open our schools, we want to do it in a way that ensures the health and safety of our staff, students and families. We have designed a gradual re-entry plan that will allow us to begin to open our schools on September 2 with our Preschool Special Day Class being the first to return for face-to-face learning. Our goal is to ensure that all of our planning and procedures have a chance to be put into practice and tested before we bring all students back on campus. On September 21, we will begin our hybrid learning model with all students returning to campus in the A/B Day learning model. More information will be forthcoming regarding days in which students will be attending.

Having our staff and teachers feel safe is critical to our goal of ensuring the opening of our schools is done with care for our entire community. When we return to campus, all students in grades TK-8 will be required to wear a face-covering unless they qualify for one of the exemptions specified in the CDPH face-covering guidelines.

With a gradual re-entry plan, we feel confident that we can monitor the success of our social distancing and sanitation measures, make adjustments as needed and ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.

While there is much work that has gone into our reopening plan, there is much work ahead. I have asked our staff to assume positive intentions in all our actions and to create a working and learning environment that supports everyone. Lastly, as we move forward and open our schools, I also ask that each of you join me in supporting our students and staff as we all work together to make our community proud of the way we respond in reopening our schools.

With great respect and hope for the future,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth



August 15, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

You may have heard the news that the County of San Diego was removed from the state’s COVID-19 watchlist and wonder what it means for Alpine Union.

This is encouraging news that could help pave the way for us to reopening schools this fall. However, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, these numbers will need to stay within the acceptable range for at least 14 days before schools in San Diego County will be allowed to reopen without a waiver. Second, when we are allowed to return to face-to-face instruction, we hope to make the transition as seamless as possible for our students, staff, and families by beginning with our hybrid model as outlined in our AUSD Reopening Schools Plan and the AUSD Safe Schools Parent and Student Reopening Guidebook.

While we keep a close eye on the watchlist, we are also planning on submitting a County of San Diego Elementary School Waiver next week so that we may begin to reopen our campuses.

The process for reopening our schools remains the same as our plans have outlined. For the last several months, we have been developing and updating our reopening plans to do everything possible to ensure healthy environments for our students and staff. As you can imagine, the process for reopening is very complex. District leadership has also been working with our employee associations to develop memorandas of understanding that address working conditions in our schools before employees return to school sites.

As a reminder, we have created two options to support our parents as Distance Learning begins: Extended Student Services and Alpine COVID-19 Learning Pods. Information on both options are available on our website on our COVID-19 webpage.

I appreciate your flexibility, support, and understanding as we adjust to these ever-changing conditions. I will continue to share updates as they become available. You can also find the most current information on our reopening plans on our COVID-19 webpage.

I very much look forward to seeing our students back on campus in the very near future.

Stay well and healthy!

Sincerely,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth


August 13, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. With the start of school on the horizon, I wanted to share some important updates regarding support for our families during Distance Learning. On March 13, the day in which we closed schools, we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing all of our efforts on being as responsive as possible to the needs of our students, families, staff, and the Alpine community. From providing wifi access at each of our school sites for anyone in the community, to providing 1000s of Grab and Go meals to any school-aged child, and providing social and emotional support to families and students, we have been relentless in our pursuit of trying to meet the needs of our community.

As we launch the school year with Distance Learning we have created several programs to support our families. First, we realize that Distance Learning is not the optimal way for all students to learn. Second, we recognize that most parents’ work schedules are not compatible with providing full-time childcare, and many parents desire to have their child have some socialization with other children while managing health risks. Third, we also realize that parents want to have a safe place for their children to be if they can’t physically be in school learning face-to-face with a teacher.

To support the needs of our families, we have been working to expand our Extended Student Service (ESS) child care program to accommodate students while following the required health guidelines and protocols. We have changed our ESS program to accommodate students from 7:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. to support our working families. Students in ESS will be able to participate in Distance Learning while being in a stable cohort of students following all required health guidelines. To ensure stable cohorts, children will need to enroll for the full week. We have made our ESS program one of the most affordable in the county. The cost will be $100 a week, which is $1.90 an hour. Due to the health guidelines, which limit the number of students in a cohort, spaces will be limited. However, we are working to hire more ESS staff to expand our program. More information can be found on our website or by contacting Lindsay Walker, ESS Coordinator, at lwalker@alpineschools.net.

While we work to expand our ESS program as fast as possible, we have also designed the Alpine COVID-19 Learning Pod so parents can meet the childcare and learning needs of their children. An Alpine COVID-19 Learning Pod is a unique learning structure designed to offer a place on an AUSD campus for a stable pod or cohort of students to meet during the day with a parent supervising the students and an AUSD staff member supporting the learning of the children in the pod. All public health guidelines and protocols will be followed. In short, the focus is on creating a safe setting to complement distance learning instruction from schools, with supervision responsibility provided by a network of parents, and technical and instructional support provided by our District. As with our ESS program, a pod will consist of no more than 12 students.

As a District, we feel it is important that there is equity and equal access to all educational opportunities. In order to support that effort, the District will allow families to apply to use District facilities at no cost as an Alpine COVID-19 Learning Pod. To do so, parents may submit a Facility Use application to utilize designated spaces on campus. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. The organization of the Learning Pods is strictly voluntary and parent-directed. If you have questions or are interested, please email Mrs. Ripke, principal of CELC, at tripke@alpineschools.net. We hope these options provide opportunities for our parents to return to work and for our students to excel with their Distance Learning.

We remain committed to having our students return to campus for face-to-face learning when safe and possible. In the meantime, we are also pursuing the waiver process to allow us to begin to bring students back to campus for learning. Lastly, I want to thank our Board of Trustees for their devotion to our community and their constant focus on finding innovative and creative ways to support our students and the community of Alpine. Alpine truly is a special place, and our schools will remain focused on providing a world-class education with a hometown feel.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rich NewmanProudest Superintendent on Earth


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