June 1, 2020
Dear West Oakland Middle School Community:
I am writing to you to express my anger and dismay over police violence towards Black people. The West Oakland Middle School faculty and staff stand in solidarity with communities of color around the nation who are speaking up against injustice and racism. As educators, we are committed to the work of anti-racism, and are reflecting upon how we will support our students during this extremely challenging and heart-breaking time. Please reach out to us if you need support, as it is more important than ever to lean on each other for strength.
In love and solidarity,
Principal, West Oakland Middle School
April 4, 2020
Dear Oakland Unified Community,
I write to you today with a brief COVID-19 update and to share some of my thoughts regarding the public health crisis which continues to evolve and has us changing the way we operate to serve our students.
It was with the health and safety of all students and staff in mind that I joined with many superintendents across the state to make the unprecedented decision to keep our campuses closed for in-person instruction through the remainder of the school year. I know it’s the right decision, yet I also know that this year will never be the year any of us expected for our students. From schools closed and sports cancelled to staying at home and away from friends to the postponement or cancellation of annual school experiences that come every spring, our students and our staff are missing out on countless aspects of life in OUSD. It’s hard for all of us and I wish there was another way forward. But right now, we have no choice. Our schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year largely because the state ordered all of us to shelter in place indefinitely. As always, the health and well being of everyone is our top priority.
This era is not just shifting “normal” life to our homes and education to online learning. This pandemic has turned everything on its head. All of us are staying home and trying to care for and support our families and loved ones.
I know that many of our families are already hurting. For example, we learned that more than 80% of families at one of our elementary schools have one parent who lost a job and more than 60% have two parents who are now unemployed. And many of our school communities are facing the same kind of adversity. Our city, our country, and the entire world are in the middle of an intense crisis and we need to marshall our resources to meet this challenge. We are working with an increasing number of partners to bring more resources to our community schools, for example:
We know that distance learning is not regular school and parents are not teachers. The intentionality of school and the guidance of educators cannot be swapped out for a chromebook and a hotspot. Yes, school is about academics, but it’s also a place for connection and social emotional learning. That’s what we need to focus on to support our young people. Students around the globe are in the same situation in terms of missed instruction and parents everywhere share similar worries and concerns.
I am crushed for the class of 2020. Our proud graduating seniors have earned the proms, graduations, and all the celebrations that usually come for every senior class. It hurts to see them not have the senior year they so deeply deserve. We will do everything possible to support them during this transition and will find some special ways to celebrate our seniors.
We are constantly evolving our COVID-19 response. Find our latest updates here:
I am so proud of our community and the stories I am hearing about how we are supporting and caring for each other.
Thank you for sheltering in place and exercising proper social distancing. As I have seen expressed elsewhere, the empty schools, playgrounds, and streets that we see right now are about caring for our community. By all of us exercising social distancing, I see love for each other, our elders, and our town. It is a deep concern for our community that unites us while keeping us physically separated. That bond is the foundation of our city and will forever tie us together in spirit.
I am humbled by the dedication of our first responders, hospital staff, grocery store employees, custodians, food service workers, agriculture workers and all the others who are the backbone of our society and who are helping us get through this pandemic. If anything, this crisis continues to make clear the importance of these people who serve the public. We must honor and support them now and after life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
Tough times are ahead, but we will get through these challenges together.