CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES AND PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS

Click here for resources to support our AUSD students, families, and community.

Additional Resources

On August 25, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the following guidance pertaining to in-person child supervision and limited instruction, returning to work or school following COVID-19 diagnosis, and case and contact management within child care facilities.

Additional Materials

Public health guidelines impacting schools:

Public health agencies:

Guidelines for staying healthy:

Hand Washing: Clean Hands Save Lives (CDC)

COVID-19 SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS

July 14, 2021

Dear Parents/Guardians, 

Several days ago, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated guidelines for K-12 schools around the opening of the 2021-22 school year. There appears to be conflicting guidance causing confusion around masking requirements.  

The latest guidance, released on July 12, stated that masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings. However, students in grades K-12 would be required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance. However, on July 13, it was reported in the news that CDPH has changed its guidance and will allow school districts discretion on how to enforce mask rules. As you can imagine, it is difficult to plan with ever-changing guidelines, recommendations, and requirements. Given the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, we once again expect the roller coaster of changing health protocols, requirements, and recommendations.

Based on current conditions, if districts are allowed discretion over mask-wearing during the 2021-22 school year, AUSD will make masks optional for students. We, of course, will continually analyze conditions and respond accordingly and make changes to ensure that our students and staff are safe. Last year, our mitigation strategy, which did include mask-wearing, was very effective. We will continue virtually all of our safety protocols. This will include a requirement for temperature checks upon entering campus. Students will also continue to be assigned restrooms and handwashing stations across campuses. Frequent hand hygiene practices will be encouraged. Continued sanitizing and electrostatic spraying will also remain in place. We will also continue to offer COVID testing options for students, staff, and parents.  

Last, with the ongoing and important conversation happening in our country—and in our own community—around opening schools safely, I want to remind us all that we take the safety of our staff, students and families, seriously. We also take the input of the community we serve seriously. 

Last year, early on in the pandemic we made a decision to open our schools because we believed it was our moral responsibility to provide in-person learning for our students when safe and possible. We took this responsibility seriously and were one of the first Districts to receive a waiver from the state and county to reopen, and were one of the first school districts in the county to actually reopen schools for in-person learning. We were also one of the first districts in the state to upgrade our ventilation systems, and we were also the first District in the state to fully vaccinate our staff, provide District-led learning Pods, and begin COVID testing for staff, students, and our community. We continue to believe that our students need to return to school and resume life in as regular a fashion as possible. We remain committed to opening our schools as safely as is possible given the ever-changing nature of this virus.   

While we are keenly aware that things will continue to evolve and change, we wanted to make sure our community knew where the Board and I stood in terms of mask requirements for students. We will continue to provide updates as necessary. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth 

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May 14, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

You may have heard the recommendations announced yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxing face-covering guidelines for individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19, suggesting they may be removed in most but not all indoor and outdoor settings. While this long awaited news is very encouraging, schools are still required to comply with state and local health orders, which have not yet relaxed their requirements on face-covering guidance for schools. Until that time, all of our schools will continue to adhere to state and local requirements, which continue to require the use of face coverings by all individuals while on school property. We will continue to monitor the state’s guidance as they are likely to make changes in response to the CDC’s recommendations, and will keep you posted on any changes that impact our schools. 

Thanks for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Proudest Superintendent on Earth
Alpine Union School District

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May 10, 2021

Dear Parents/Guardians, 

We want to thank you for your continued patience as we maneuver through the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to be returning to five days a week of in-person learning beginning next Monday, May 17. We are pleased that we are continuing to move towards returning to a more regular schedule. Last week teachers were given the green light to remove the plastic dividers that are on student desks. We fully expect to be operating under our “normal” schedule next year.

As you are aware, each year in the spring, districts and schools are charged with administering the Smarter Balanced California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) to students in grades 3–8. On March 16, 2021, the California State Board of Education took action to provide flexibility to school districts to use alternative assessments in place of the CAASPP

This spring, our District will be administering Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) in lieu of the CAASPP assessment. It is the district’s priority to provide parents/guardians to the clearest extent possible with an indicator of their child’s grade-level learning and performance. Therefore, parents/guardians will receive their student’s MAP score reports from the 2020-21 spring administration on or before the last day of school. For more information, please contact your child’s principal.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Proudest Superintendent on Earth

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April 23, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

The conversation around race has been ever-present in our schools, our communities, and across our nation. We are asked to pause and think about how we, as a school district and community, not only respond to recent events, but teach our students, and one another, how our differences are strengths, not weaknesses. Recent events have brought to light how we -- all of us -- respond to issues such as racism and discrimination.

Racism exists in our society, and neither our community, nor our schools are immune. It is at times intentional, and others, unintentional. Talking about race is never easy, but it is necessary. Many of us likely grew up in families where any discussion about racism was uncommon. The polarization that exists in our country today puts a tremendous amount of pressure on all of us. 

In particular, there is an exorbitant amount of pressure for schools to get it “right” and solve each issue with swiftness. As a District, we strive every single day to help students learn how to accept one another, and how to embrace our differences. We are serious about our commitment to making our schools a place that is safe and inviting to all students and staff, regardless of their race. 

We are not silent on addressing issues when they emerge. In fact, we take them on directly, albeit not always in ways that are obvious to those outside of our schools. Our staff is dedicated to helping students grow, learn, and feel safe. In fact, several weeks ago a communication was sent to all AUSD families and staff, reminding them that we have no tolerance for racism or discrimination in our schools and that any incidents should be reported immediately. 

I believe our schools should be held to the highest of standards, and we should ensure that EVERY single child feels safe and welcome in our schools. Our schools also need to be places where students not only learn and grow but when they make mistakes, even very serious ones, they are provided the opportunity to examine and learn from the experience. In addition, our schools strive to teach students to accept one another. When students as young as six or eight say something inappropriate, it is our collective responsibility to help them learn and grow into individuals who are empathetic and considerate of one another.  

There is no single strategy, lesson or solution we can implement to ensure our students avoid coming in contact with harsh words or unfair practices. I recognize that we don’t have all the answers. We don’t get it right all the time. We are, however, committed to working alongside each of you to ensure that our schools are places where every student can thrive. 

We are proud of the work we’ve been doing in our schools to grow and help our students feel safe. Over the years our approach—and our work—has evolved, and will continue to do so. We have increased the level of social and emotional support in our schools. We have implemented character education. We have trained our leadership across the district on how to handle cases of discrimination or racism. We have implemented a “See Something, Say Something”, anonymous reporting system, so students can easily submit concerns on a range of topics. We have asked our students how they feel about school and responded based on their ideas.

In this moment, with the ongoing and important conversation happening in our country —and in our own community—around justice, racism, and equity, I hope we can move forward together, ensuring that both our students and our community are engaged in productive dialogue and a shared commitment to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our students to grow into the leaders we need in the future.    

In closing, I know we are not perfect, and even our best efforts sometimes are not enough, but I promise that we will continue to do all that is possible to make our school district and community proud! 

Sincerely, 

Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Proudest Superintendent on Earth 


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March 19, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

As we conclude our twenty-third consecutive week of in-person learning and our first week of four days of in-person learning, I want to say thank you for your support and patience.  

I am so proud of our small but mighty school district. We were one of the first school districts in San Diego County to open its classrooms for in-person learning. Mrs. Nash’s preschool was actually the very first classroom in all of San Diego to welcome students back on campus and every one of our classrooms soon followed and opened up. We are also the first school district to have brought all of our students back to learn together and have provided more in-person learning days than almost any school district in the county.  It has been very rewarding to have safely opened ALL of our schools and not to have closed a single one due to a coronavirus outbreak.

While spring break is now upon us, I wanted to share that we will be moving into our next stage of reopening on Monday, May 17 with students returning for in-person learning five days a week. We are very excited about this next stage and will be sharing more information in the near future. 

Additionally, we will be receiving one-time grant funds to develop a range of expanded learning opportunities for our students. We are in the beginning stages of developing plans and need your feedback. We are exploring options to provide expanded learning opportunities for students over the summer, before and after school, and potentially during our intercessions or breaks. 

We hope that you will take ten minutes to complete our 2021 LCAP and Expanded Learning survey, which has been developed to gauge your thinking and priorities on our goals and future learning opportunities for students. Click here to access it. The survey will remain open until Monday, April 5.  

I look forward to seeing everyone return on Monday, April 5. 

Grateful,

Dr. Rich Newman
Alpine Union
Proudest Superintendent on Earth

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March 13, 2021

Today marks the one-year anniversary of our schools closing, and our lives changing in ways we could never have imagined. I can vividly remember the days that followed. The initial sense of confusion and shock, however, quickly gave way to pride as no matter the circumstances, nor the request I made of our staff, they stepped up when it mattered most and showed up when it wasn’t easy. My deepest gratitude to all of our staff!

Throughout this past year, we have had to maneuver through ever-changing health and safety protocols, teaching while wearing masks, and hearing the news for the very first time that we had a COVID case on campus. We found ourselves unable to hug loved ones, standing in line to enter a grocery store, and of course, the craziness that ensued when stores ran out of toilet paper. These are moments I will never forget.

I will also never forget that our community in Alpine came together when it was most important. We simultaneously had to deal with the pandemic, wildfires ravaging our communities, power outages, Santa Ana winds ripping and destroying property, food scarcity, and an epidemic of mental health needs. I watched neighbors helping neighbors in big and small ways, and in ways that are truly special to Alpine.

Monday will truly be a historic moment -- one we will also not forget. We will be one of the first school districts in San Diego to welcome all students back on campus to learn together. Our students will once again be reunited on campus. They will see friends they may not have seen in a year, have a chance to sit and talk with each other and learn together. While we will all be wearing masks, I am certain every smile will be visible.

Alpine is truly a special place, and I am grateful to have found my way here. I truly am the proudest superintendent on Earth.   

I can’t wait for Monday!  

Keep the faith,

Dr. Rich Newman
Alpine Union
Proudest Superintendent on Earth

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March 10, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

Almost exactly a year ago, we closed our doors due to COVID-19. From that day forward we have not wavered for a second from the belief that our students are best served learning in person. For 21 consecutive weeks, we have been offering in-person learning. While we are deeply proud that we have been open for as long, if not longer, than almost any public school district in the county, we realize it has been far too long since our students have been on campus full time.

It would be an understatement to say we are thrilled to begin Phase Three of our reopening plan on Monday, March 15.  We deeply appreciate your support throughout this incredibly trying year. I also want to publicly thank our staff for stepping up when it mattered most, and showing up when it wasn’t easy. I have asked a lot of our staff over the past year, and I am deeply honored to work alongside each and every one of them. They rose to the occasion from day one, in so many ways that will never be recognized. 

I am excited to share that on Monday, March 15, 88% of our students will be on campus for Phase Three of our reopening. To support the students and staff, each school has hired an additional teacher for the remainder of the year. Additional custodians will also be on site. We have purchased benches and shade structures to support outdoor learning spaces. After school sports will begin on April 6 at JMMS, and we are working on plans to honor our students with promotions at the end of the year.  

As we take this next step, I ask that you monitor your child for any COVID-19 symptoms. Those experiencing symptoms should not attend school or ESS, even if no fever is present. Simply put, our goal remains to continue to safely open our schools and keep them open and not have the yo-yo effect of opening and closing that we have so often heard about in the news. 

Again, thank you for being part of our small but mighty school district.

Keep the faith! 

Sincerely,
Dr. Rich Newman
Alpine Union
Proudest Superintendent on Earth 


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February 11, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

Just over eleven months ago, we closed our schools due to COVID-19 and began a journey that none of us could have ever imagined. As we cross our 18th week of in-person learning, I am pleased to share that on Monday, March 15, our journey will come full circle as we begin our Phase Three return to school.

During Phase Three, students will attend school in-person full-time as one cohort, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday will remain a day for distance learning and deep cleaning of our campuses. We will, of course, continue to offer a distance learning option for families, as well as our home school and independent study program.

As we plan for our Phase Three reopening, we are facing the same dilemma every school in the world faces — how do we continue to implement strong protocols, follow all health guidelines, provide in-person learning full time for our students, while creatively utilizing all campus spaces, including outdoors.

As one of the first public school districts in San Diego county to begin Phase Three learning, we ask for your grace and patience as our staff undertakes this process. We know our students will be thrilled to see one another again and we are truly excited to see all of our students back on campus.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of our staff for leading this effort. From that very first day our schools closed, our commitment to providing in-person learning to our students in a safe environment drove every decision. We have not wavered from the belief that our students are best-served learning in person with an expert teacher. I am deeply proud of how our small, but mighty school district has stayed true to ensuring we provide a world-class education with a hometown feel. We have done everything possible to make our schools safe for our students and staff and it is time to bring our students back on campus full time. I am proud of what our district has accomplished.

  • By next week, our staff will have received their second COVID vaccination. We will be the first district in CA to fully vaccinate our staff.

  • We were one of the first districts in the county to reopen its schools and to receive a waiver from the county and state.

  • We were one of the first districts in the state to upgrade all of our ventilation systems.

  • We were one of the first districts in the county to provide regular COVID testing to our staff, students and community.

  • We were one of the first districts in the county to provide free Verizon hotspots to our families.

  • We were the first district in CA to provide learning pods for our families, which continue to thrive.

More than ever, we want to ensure that our schools remain open and safe and healthy places for learning. We ask that you monitor your student at home for any signs of illness — cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, and fever— before coming to school. Anyone with a fever of 100°F or more should not go to a school site. Those experiencing symptoms including a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or runny nose should not attend school or ESS, even if no fever is present. Student temperatures will continue to be taken upon entering classes and buildings.

We will be sharing more information in the near future. I truly look forward to seeing all of our students on campus once again! Stay healthy!

Grateful,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth
Alpine Union

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January 2, 2021

Dear AUSD Families,

We are excited to welcome our students back to campus on January 4. As I shared in a previous letter, we are proud that our district has been operating in-person learning at all of our schools longer than virtually any other district in the county, and we have done it without a need for a school closure for 13 consecutive weeks.

This pandemic has changed the entire way we operate. Many of our staff have a high-risk condition or are otherwise vulnerable, and others live with someone who is high-risk. While this is a facet of life all of us face in a world of COVID, we have been and remain committed to providing in-person learning. In fact, we believe that in-person learning should be the default for our students.

Yet, our ability to stay open will depend on all of us working together to ensure that our health and safety protocols are followed. As a reminder, we ask that you monitor your student for any signs of illness each day such as a cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, and fever at home before coming to school. Any student with these symptoms or a fever of 100°F or more should not go to a school site, including ESS. Those experiencing symptoms including a persistent cough, shortness of breath, a runny nose should not attend school or ESS, even if no fever is present. All students and staff are required to wear a face covering, and student temperatures will continue to be taken upon entering classes and buildings.

I ask that you continue to support our staff in our efforts to remain open and strictly adhere to all protocols. Most districts in the county have not been operating with in-person learning and we want to remain open. I realize that the postponement of our Phase Three reopening is disappointing news. With the surge in cases in the county and across the country we need to work together more than ever to ensure our campuses remain safe. Again, we want to do everything in our power to remain open for our students and appreciate your support in making that a reality.

Stay safe and well,
Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth
Alpine Union School District

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December 31, 2020

Dear AUSD Families,

Happy New Year’s Eve! There is no simple way to sum up 2020 or the impact that the coronavirus has had on every aspect of our lives. We have faced so many challenges this year - fires, evacuations, power outages, family food scarcity, school closings, COVID cases, distance learning, mask wearing, and learning to work and live in dramatically different ways. Yet, I am filled with pride in how our district and our community has faced these challenges.

On March 13, when our schools closed due to COVID, we stated that it was our moral imperative, when safe and possible, to provide the option for students to return to school and learn in classrooms with teachers. I am proud that AUSD has been a role model when it comes to navigating the pandemic. We were one of the first school districts in the county with a reopening plan, one of the first to be granted a waiver, one of the first districts in the county to open for in-person learning and provide in-person learning for special education students full time. In fact, our district has been operating in-person learning at all of our schools longer than virtually any other district in the county, and we have done it without a need for a school closure for 13 consecutive weeks.

We were also the first school district in California to launch learning pods. We were one of the first districts to schedule COVID-19 testing for staff and their community. We were also one of the first districts in the state to upgrade our ventilation systems. In addition, over the winter break, we had all our HVACs cleaned and disinfected and every filter was changed. We have hired new custodial staff at every school site as well as an outside firm to assist with cleaning. We have purchased three electrostatic cleaners for each school site to ensure a redundancy at each campus.

We have provided personal protective equipment, classroom desk dividers and other measures to mitigate risk. All of our actions to date were the ones that were highlighted at yesterday’s press conference, in which Governor Newsom, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and Linda Darling Hammond, President of California’s State Board of Education, outlined the California Safe Schools for All Plan.

Our Board had the foresight to begin the school year in a 100% Distance Learning model for our students, with the goal of gradually reopening our schools first with a hybrid model, and then bringing all students back for in-person learning four days a week.

While our schools will once again open Monday, January 4 with hybrid learning, we have made the decision to postpone our Phase Three return, which would have had our students attending school four days a week. The timeline for our Phase Three return will remain fluid and will be dependent upon local and county health data as well as other factors. Our goal has always been to open our schools safely and remain open. Given the current surge in COVID cases, we do not believe it is prudent to bring back our students in a manner that increases the number of students in class and risks the potential of our schools closing. We remain committed to having our students back on campus full time as soon as possible and will continue to keep you updated with any changes.

We know this news may be disappointing but I want to reiterate that our goal is to remain open and provide as much consistency as possible for our students, while also ensuring the safety of our staff.

As always, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to seeing our students return to campus on January 4, 2021.

With great appreciation,
Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth
Alpine Union School District

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November 11, 2020

Dear AUSD families,

Good morning! I hope each of you is staying healthy and celebrating our veterans and their service today. 

Last night, the AUSD Board of Trustees met and I wanted to provide a few important updates. We will move to phase three reopening of our schools on January 19, 2021. In phase three, students will return to campus four days a week for face-to-face learning with Wednesday remaining a distance learning day and for deep cleaning of our campuses.

Once we begin phase three, parents will continue to have the opportunity to change their child’s learning model. This will occur at the end of each quarter at JMMS, at the semester break at our elementary schools and as space is available at Mountain View Learning Academy. Preschool and Early Admission Kindergarten will start on January 19, 2021. Beginning with phase three, ESS will offer only a full time option due to the need to maintain students in cohorts.

To recruit as many substitutes as possible, AUSD will also be increasing the certificated substitute rate to $200 per day for this school year effective with the opening of phase three. With this change, AUSD will offer the highest certificated substitute rate in the County of San Diego. This is part of our strategy to ensure that we do everything possible to open safely and remain open.

All families will be receiving additional information from their school’s principal shortly. We realize that this decision might cause some of you to change which type of learning model your student currently participates in. If you desire to change your student’s learning model to 100% distance learning or to face-to-face four days a week you must notify the school office by Thursday, November 19th at 2:00PM.

You may have also heard the news yesterday that the County of San Diego has been moved to the most restrictive tier of the state reopening system and wonder what it means for Alpine Union. Because we reopened our campuses while the county was in the red tier, our schools will be allowed to stay open and we’ll be able to continue with our plans for phase three opening.

As a District, we monitor many metrics to guide our decisions on welcoming students back for phase three. We realize that while metrics provide an overall general perspective, they are one essential piece of the puzzle as we make decisions specific to in person learning in our schools. We will continue to monitor all necessary metrics and work closely with the San Diego County Office of Education and the County Public Health Department.

Lastly, I want to thank all of our parents and families for their ongoing partnership and support as we continue our journey navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. I am so proud of how Alpine Union has set an example for how school districts can open for in person learning safely and responsibly during a pandemic. These are difficult times and together we will continue to navigate the pandemic in a safe and healthy way.

With deep gratitude,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth 

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November 3, 2020

Dear AUSD Families:

We were notified today that an individual at Shadow Hills Elementary has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Due to privacy laws, information regarding this individual's identity cannot be released. This individual is currently not on campus per public health guidelines. The school will remain open for in-person learning. We have cleaned and disinfected appropriately following all health protocols.

We understand that this information is concerning. Individuals who may have come into close contact with the individual have been contacted by the District office and will be contacted directly by San Diego County Public Health with further instructions. We are working with public health to continue to monitor the situation, and we are strictly following all public health guidelines.

As a reminder, 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 a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or runny nose should not attend school or ESS, even if no fever is present. All students are required to wear a face covering, and student temperatures will continue to be taken upon entering classes and buildings.

Thank you for your cooperation and support.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth
Alpine Union School District

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October 26, 2020

Dear AUSD Families:

As we enter week six of our hybrid learning model I wanted to provide some important updates. First, I want to sincerely thank all of our staff, parents, and families for their support and effort these past weeks. As one of the first public school districts in the county to reopen schools, we were chartering a new and uncertain path.

We built our reopening plan on strong health and safety protocols, and the belief that our students would be best served by learning in person at school with their teachers. I am extremely grateful and appreciative of all the hard work and collaboration that has made our reopening of schools both safe and a model for other districts.

Additionally, I am pleased to share that on Tuesday, October 20th, the Board of Trustees approved the installation of indoor air filtration systems in all of our classrooms and buildings. These new systems will be similar to what you find in hospitals and medical settings. I am proud to share that we are among the first school districts in the state to install these units. A HUGE thanks to our Board of Trustees for ensuring that Alpine Union continues to place the health and safety of our students and staff front and center, while also setting an example for how to effectively and safely reopen schools and plan for the future.

A Superintendent’s Advisory Task Force has also been working to develop plans for our Phase Three reopening. At our Board of Trustees meeting on November 10th, the Board will discuss the Task Force recommendations and a target date for a full return to in-person learning.

A month ago we implemented COVID-19 testing for all AUSD staff. Every two weeks free drive-through COVID-19 testing and flu shots are available at JMMS. The testing plan has been expanded, and all community members, students, and families are welcome to receive a free flu shot or a COVID-19 test during our test days. I hope you and your family members will take advantage of this free service. Dates are posted on our website and social media.

Last, we have expanded our Grab and Go meals, and are offering meal pick up on Mondays during the day from 11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. and in the evening from 5:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m. Meals are available free of charge for any school-age child under the age of 18. Please help spread the word so that we can continue to support our Alpine families and community members.

As always, thank you for your continued support. We are all in this together, and we can only get through it together.

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Rich Newman
Proudest Superintendent on Earth

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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 on Earth

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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

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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

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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


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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 

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Alpine union

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


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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


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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

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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. 


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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

August 21, 2020

August 24, 2020

Student assessments

Student assessments

Distance Learning begins

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.

  1. 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


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July 21, 2020 TOWN HALL PRESENTATION

Click on the icon below for the presentation

Town Hall meeting

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

Learning model

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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.

Plan for reopening

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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

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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


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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 


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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

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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