April 5, 2020

Dear Parents,

I imagine this year’s Spring Break took on a different feel for you and your family as it did for mine. My garage has never been more clean and I’ve biked the same streets several times. However you spent your time with your family, I hope you were able to rest and recharge. 

You have no doubt read my last Wednesday message that Distance Learning will continue through the end of the school year in a state-wide effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. This announcement raises a series of important questions, many of which I will address in this communication. MPCSD will continue to provide direction and up-to-date information on the District’s online COVID-1 9 FAQ .

Will Distance Learning continue as it did prior to Spring Break?  
Prior to Spring Break, Distance Learning was designed in response to the County’s short-term Shelter in Place. Now that it is clear that Distance Learning will be the mode of instruction and learning for the remainder of the school year, site principals and the district’s EdServices department will consider adaptations to our Distance Learning approach. 

Your site principal and classroom teachers will be the primary resources for information about Distance Learning. Many sites/teachers have organized material pick up for the first few days of this week; if your child’s class requires that you pick up materials, please read the directions carefully, as the Shelter in Place expectations require explicit rules. Please also stay tuned for continued email communication regarding your school’s Distance Learning expectations. Address any questions and feedback FIRST to the classroom teacher and site principal .

Do I need to register my attendance?  
Only let us know if you are NOT intending to participate in Distance Learning. Otherwise, you will be marked present for the rest of the school year. Distance Learning participation is expected if your child is enrolled in MPCSD schools. 

How will achievement reporting and grades be communicated for Trimester 3?  
Menlo Park City School District uses what is known as “evidence-based grading” in grades K-5, and some teachers at the middle school have also been piloting similar grading practices. K-5 reporting will remain relatively the same; however, assessments we typically use may not be conducive to Distance Learning. When our typical evidence is unavailable, the teacher’s mark will reflect the inability to evaluate. At the middle school, where traditional grades are still used, the grading scale during Distance Learning will reflect students’ hard work, but not penalize students when evidence of learning is difficult to assess. Teachers will have the option of assigning an A, B, or C. Beyond a “C” mark, however, students will receive an “IE” mark, which signifies “insufficient evidence.” No student will receive a failing or “no pass” mark during Distance Learning.  Questions about grades and reporting should be addressed to the classroom teacher, and if necessary, the site principal. 

How will MPCSD address “rites of passage” events such as Clap-Out and Graduation?  
We recognize the importance of rite of passage events in the lives of our students and their families. I will work closely with our principals to develop an alternative plan for all important end-of-school-year events to which our students, families, and staff look forward. Stay tuned for more information. 

What childcare options are available if I am a first responder, medical professional, or other “essential” worker?
MPCSD is partnering with our after-school care partner, Newton, and the San Mateo County Office of Education to provide emergency child care services for children of our community’s first responders, medical professionals, and other “essential” workers. This program is a fee-based program offered under the guidelines set forth by the State of California for child care services during the current pandemic. Every effort will be made to ensure the health and safety of the workers and the children. The program is available to an essential worker, regardless of whether they live within the MPCSD boundaries or not. Care for children prekinder to eighth grade will be available Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Lower Campus of Laurel School behind Menlo-Atherton High School .  If you or someone you know is an essential worker and wants more information about the emergency child care services, please click here . For questions, please email office@newtoncenter.org

What resources are available if I have lost my job or had my pay significantly impacted?  
There are many state and regional programs available that may be able to help in this difficult time of need. As many of these programs have been overwhelmed by the large number of individuals in need, MPCSD and our amazing families are stepping up to help. If your family does not normally receive free or reduced price lunch services and your employment has been impacted, you can begin receiving weekly deliveries for lunch and breakfast. Additionally, MPCSD is setting up a food and necessities delivery service for those families in need. If you find yourself needing information, lunch/breakfast, and additional food and necessities, please reach out to us in Spanish or English at mpcsdhelps@mpcsd.org . Your information will be kept private and one of our compassionate and helpful support providers will work with you to identify how we can be of assistance. 

Will Free and Reduced Lunch Deliveries continue?  
Yes. However, MPCSD will be moving to a weekly delivery model versus a daily delivery. In partnership with The Lunch Master, healthy, delicious and handmade meals will be prepared each week and delivered to your door on the first weekday when school is in session. Meals can be placed in the refrigerator and spaced out over the course of the week. In addition, MPCSD is paying to add breakfast for each child who receives free or reduced lunch services. Weekly delivery will begin tomorrow, Monday, April 6. 

How can I help district families in need?  
MPCSD is organizing a new program called MPCSD Helps to provide food and necessities to district families who are experiencing food and necessities insecurity during the Shelter in Place. If you are interested in donating time, money, or resources to our effort, please reach out to mpcsdhelps@mpcsd.org . One of our private and professional support providers will be happy to share with you what the changing needs are of our community. For a list of food and necessities needed and directions on how to drop off donations, please visit our MPCSD Helps information page

Will school sites or the District Office be open during Shelter in Place? 
With the exception of material pick up (the directions for which will be emailed by your school), all MPCSD school sites will remain CLOSED to parents and students until the Shelter in Place is lifted . The District Office will remain open to the public from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Monday - Friday when school is in session. Calls and emails are preferable to in-person inquiries due to the need for social distancing. 

Is MPCSD aware of security concerns related to ZOOM conferencing?  
Yes. While MPCSD has had zero security issues with Zoom, we are well aware of the security concerns related to the webconference technology. We are in the process of implementing the security protocols recommended by the company. MPCSD supports our teachers’ need to choose the technology tools that work best for them and their students. We will continue to do so as long as we are able to reasonably protect student data and privacy. No technology is fool-proof; however, we work daily to ensure access and security. If ultimately we need to refrain from using a specific tool, we will do so and we will alert you and the staff accordingly. At this time, we are not canceling the use of Zoom, but may change our mind based on data and our experience with the security fixes. 

Regardless of technology being used, please do not take pictures of students participating and please do not post any pictures on social media. 

I will continue to update you on about a weekly basis; however, rely primarily on your site administration and teachers for direction and information. Please also direct your questions about your child’s Distance Learning experience and needs directly to the teacher and involve site administration when necessary. We know this is not easy for anyone involved, least of all our children who love their teachers and school. However, we can take heart in the fact that early data appear to indicate that our first-in-the-country social distancing efforts are “flattening the curve” in the Bay Area. Together...we will get through this

In partnership,
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent | mpcsd.org
Governing Board
Stacey Jones , President
Sherwin Chen, Vice President
David Ackerman
Mark Box
Scott Saywell