March 13, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

Thank you for your attention to these important updates. As I shared last night, we will move forward with Distance Learning for all students. Distance Learning will now be the only option for how we conduct school, at least for the next two weeks. 

This morning, the MPCSD Board was joined by the San Mateo County Health Department in determining that school closure was a difficult, but necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19. All San Mateo County schools will be closed for in-person instruction starting on Monday, March 16, 2020. MPCSD will provide instruction through our Distance Learning Plan to ensure that learning continues and that we are not required to make up days during the summer. 

Below is important information that will serve as a guide for the next two weeks. Your site leaders and teachers will provide even greater detail over the next four days. You will begin to hear much more from them and much less from me. But here is the information you need to know now:

Friday, March 13, 2020 (TODAY)
Today is a transition day to allow parents an opportunity to make necessary childcare arrangements for the next two weeks. If you have chosen to keep your child home today, the absence is excused. For those students who do attend school, it will likely feel different than most days as it will focus to a large degree on preparing for Distance Learning. 

Calling in Attendance (Yes, it’s necessary.)
During Distance Learning, teachers are not able to “take attendance” as they traditionally do. Thus, we will be relying on parents to submit attendance for all children . We have attempted to make this easy for you. Please follow these step-by-step directions:
  • Download the SchoolMessenger (Safe Arrival) App on your phone (while we highly recommend the app, if you prefer not to use it, you may report an absence from the link on your school’s website). 
  • On the App, select “Attendance” under the dropdown main menu.
  • Select the purple “+” button and then your child’s name. 
  • Using the drop down menu select “Multiple Day” (this is important if you don’t want to have to log on each day).
  • Using the next drop down menu select “Attending School through Distance Learning.” If you choose this option, your child will be marked “present.” 
  • On the next screen select March 16, 2020 as the first day of absence
  • Just below First Day, select March 26, 2020 as the last day of absence. (Spring Break is scheduled to begin Friday, March 27; you don’t need to select Friday as the last day.)
  • In the upper right hand corner, press “Send.”
And that’s it. If you follow these directions, you won’t have to log back on to mark your child “present;” they do, however, have to complete the assigned work if you mark them present. If your child is sick and you need to mark them absent because they will not be able to complete the work in the time assigned, you may follow the same process to “call them in sick.” 

Thanks for your assistance in making this happen. The only way we can get credit for “keeping school open” and not have to make days up during the summer is to have proof of participation in “Distance Learning.”

School Lunch
If you have ordered lunch for your child via TheLunchMaster, you don’t need to do a thing. TheLunchMaster has agreed to cancel all paid lunch orders through March 26. You will be credited for the cost of the meals you have purchased. If your child receives Free or Reduced Lunch through the Federal Lunch Program, your child’s lunch will still be available. Please be on the lookout for direct communication about our unique in-person delivery plan. 

Technology Available for Checkout
If you need to borrow an internet-enabled device for Distance Learning, we are offering iPads for grades K-1 and ChromeBooks for grades 2-5. Hillview students will continue using their assigned iPad.
To borrow a device, you may visit your school’s front office TODAY, Friday, March 13 after 2:00 p.m. or you may sign out a device Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. beginning on Monday, March 16 . The device is available to you until the district ends Distance Learning. Our offices will remain open during school closure. 

If you require temporary internet services in your home to access Digital Learning, please reach out to Flor Espinal, Family Engagement Coordinator, at fespinal@mpcsd.org for directions on how to access. 

Offices Open During Closure
MPCSD School Offices will be open and staffed during the school closure. Parents who have questions or need to pick up technology, learning materials, book bags, and other items for Distance Learning may visit their respective school office between 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. each week day while students are Distance Learning. If you are sick, please send someone else; avoid schools if you are experiencing any cold/flu like symptoms or if you have been in contact with someone who may be suffering from COVID-19. 

Distance Learning - What To Expect
Distance Learning details will be communicated directly to you by your teacher(s). On Monday, March 16, not everything will be ready at the start of the day. Please be patient and flexible as our hard-working teachers are rolling out this process. By Tuesday, we expect daily lessons to be posted by 9:00 a.m. each day

Please visit this valuable parent resource created by our EdServices team for tips on successful distance learning with your children. It offers general ideas for how to prepare to start distance learning and support your child in the process.

Special Education Services
At the top of everyone’s mind across the country is how Special Education services will be provided. The US Department of Education published guidance late last night that we are reviewing. We expect California to follow suit. If your child receives Special Education services, you will receive separate communication from Dr. Stephanie Sheridan, Executive Director of Student Services, with further information. It will take us a couple of days to understand the limits and opportunities, but we will be in touch shortly with more informatio n. 

Social Distancing Really Means Social Distancing
We know kids and teens well. We know limiting their interaction with others will be difficult; however, it is medically necessary for them and for the greater community. While COVID-19 may not impact children to the degree it does adults (especially older adults), children are vectors of the disease. Their bodies’ ability to handle the virus better than adults gives the illusion that they are fine, when in actuality they can carry the virus, not even know it, and share it with others. To the extent possible please limit unnecessary exposure and interaction. It’s a great time to take hikes, play on the street, read a book, climb a tree, jump on a trampoline, etc. It is not the best time to be hanging out at Starbucks, meeting friends in Downtown Menlo Park, going to the movies, or visiting the mall. We recognize that childcare options may have to include a few families helping one another out; however, when a gathering of three or more non-family members can be avoided, please try. If you are sick, avoid contact all together. Knowing that kids and teens need interaction, consider organized “virtual” hangouts with friends. Google Hangouts is a great tool that’s easy to use. 

Childcare
I want to acknowledge how difficult school closure is for many families. Having been behind the scenes of both the Board’s and County’s decisions to close schools, I can tell you that no one takes this decision lightly. School closure will impact our most vulnerable families hardest. Our counselors, administrators, and family support staff stand ready to listen and provide as much counsel as possible. If you find yourself without options, please contact Flor Espinal at fespinal@mpcsd.org and we will assist you

Next Steps
For MPCSD, school closure is expected to extend to the end of Spring Break, which is Sunday, April 5 . Prior to that date, we will provide further direction based on the recommendations or orders of the San Mateo Health Department. There is no way of knowing right now what to expect beyond Spring Break. 

I cannot express enough how grateful I am to our dedicated staff who are making this plan work for all of us, and also to you, the families of MPCSD. I know that the impact of this Public Health Emergency is putting great strain on our children and families. Together, we will get through this. Let’s help each other out and ask for help when we need it. One thing that should be in abundant supply during difficult times like these is grace ; may you offer it unconditionally and may it be offered to you in return.  

With you in this,
Erik
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent | mpcsd.org
Governing Board
Stacey Jones , President
Sherwin Chen, Vice President
David Ackerman
Mark Box
Scott Saywell