Welcome from Principal Bagby-Ellison
Dear Redwood Heights Families,
I have taken great joy in hearing from many of you in the past two weeks. The beginning of the school year comes with the excitement of starting fresh and connecting with new and old RHS families and community members. The Redwood Heights team has been eagerly preparing to provide excellent instruction for our students and families. We are all uniquely challenged by these times. Our lives have experienced an unexpected upheaval. We will be forever changed by this crisis and will need every bit of imagination, spirit, and innovation to shape a better future for our families. I know that many of us are uncomfortable. But I have faith and am hopeful because I know that we are a strong and resilient community. We will work together to make the best of these times and do what is right for our students, staff, and families. I remain hopeful because I have witnessed our community rally together as I have never before seen.
Our staff is very excited about this school year, and are dealing with unprecedented stressors as they adapt their teaching methodologies for distant learning. Our staff and I are going to make mistakes and will continue to strive to improve and be better. What I need from all parents is understanding, patience, and collaboration toward other parents and staff as they adjust to these challenging times. Please assume positive intent and communicate with us using empathy and compassion. I will have regular RHS Coffee chats and office hours this year and our teachers will do the same. All RHS staff have the best intentions to do what is best for your children.
Last year we led with the theme Embracing our Humanity and this year it is more important than ever.
Let’s also lead with a few guiding questions:
How do we keep our staff and students safe and well?
To protect the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students, I am continuously working with OUSD, RHS Staff, and the PTA. As I stated in a previous message, the spread of COVID-19 in our community has taken an unpredictable turn as hospitalizations rise and the number of infections is increasing on a daily basis and, based on current projections, will continue to do so into this fall’s flu season. I want to make sure that our staff members are prepared and start the process of stockpiling PPE materials in the event that your children come back to the school building in some type of modified learning environment. OUSD has provided PPEs, but I would still like your help and support to make sure that we have ample amounts of sanitation wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks, children and adult gloves, and sanitation cleaning supplies on hand so that we can be ready to keep your children and families safe. In light of recent recalls on hand sanitizer, I would like to make sure that we are informing our families to keep them safe and make sure that any donated PPE supplies are safe for our children. Please check out this link for more information about FDA approved hand sanitizers. I am working with the Redwood Heights DPCR (Disaster Preparedness Crisis Response Team) and they are making plans to support these efforts. Thank you for your support and together we can keep our community safe. This a great resources for keeping track of COVID-19 status in California: https://projects.sfchronicle.com/2020/coronavirus-map/
Anti-racism at RHS
How do we prevent and interrupt racism that our African American students and families may experience in our school? This summer we watched the coverage of what happened in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd. We, like many others, are reminded of the countless men, women, and gender non-conforming persons killed by law enforcement officers and those "acting" as law enforcement officers. Our community finds ourselves experiencing and addressing the same issues that are grounded in systematic oppression and impenetrable, unyielding, and sometimes not easily detectable racism.
To combat racism at Redwood Heights we will continuously consider how our academic resources, school policies, student behavior, and management practices, parent behaviors, and staff interactions with children might be implicitly or explicitly racist. We will continue to ask the question: Who do the practices and policies benefit and whom do they disadvantage? I ask you all to think about how race intersects with gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, access to education when thinking about racism and oppression.
How do we maintain the high level of instruction that we provide through distance learning?
Teachers and staff have responded with energy and enthusiasm in shifting from in-person to online instruction. Many students and families are working their way through initial barriers to adjusting to the new Distance Learning format. Staff members are shifting roles to accommodate this new reality. In the process, we have found that it is necessary to continuously re-write the script for elementary education every day with resilience, resolve, and imagination.
Our school is rolling out the OUSD STRONG START PLAN. Each of the RHS teachers will be communicating these plans directly to families. Teachers will begin the school year building relationships with students and families and planning for our core instruction that will begin at the end of August. If you would like to read more information, please visit the OUSD STARTING STRONG TOGETHER section of their website. Many of you have completed the Redwood Heights Distance Learning Technology and Wellness Survey. If you have technology needs please inform your teacher AND complete the survey. Please note that we will also be providing tech support for families by our TSA Rebecca Weissman and a variety of OUSD training. There will be more information to come.
How do we build and sustain engaging positive relationships with our students and families from a distance?
For our students, the abrupt move off-campus was a major upheaval in their lives. Many of our students are experiencing real loss. They are losing the enduring face-to-face relationships they have forged with friends, teachers and staff. Despite the disruptions, I am hopeful, because we have demonstrated resilience, resolve and the imagination to re-envision ourselves. It is important for us to think outside of the box to ensure that our children are safe and can continue to have human connections with their friends and classmates using virtual platforms. Here are some ideas and please share your virtual relationship-building strategies with us as well!
- Scheduled Regular Zoom Play Dates
- Scheduled Check-in with friends and classmates
- Reading reflections or movie reflections on Zoom with classmates
- Zoom Activities - Coloring, painting
I will be hosting “getting to know you” Zoom meetings with our new families. Please stay tuned for more information about these meetings. I look forward to connecting with you.
Principal Cynthia Bagby