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COVID-19 Information

Hello Orinda Families-

As we work with the Contra Costa County Health Authorities to monitor the developments of COVID-19, student and staff health and safety remain our top priority.  Please check in to this webpage for the latest developments and updates related to our response to COVID-19.

Updated March 7, 2021

 

March 7, 2021 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Community,

7th and 8th Grade Hybrid Students’ Return to OIS

I am pleased to share that today’s COVID-19 adjusted case rate for Contra Costa County is 8.5/100,000 residents. As a reminder, in order to welcome 7th and 8th grade students back to the OIS campus, our county must be moved to the red tier as required by the California Department of Public Health. Though we do not have a definitive date on which OIS 7th and 8th grade hybrid students will return to campus, we remain confident that the state will move Contra Costa County to the red tier soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday, March 16, which would allow our hybrid students in Cohort B to attend school in person the next day on Wednesday, March 17. OIS Principal Stacy Wayne and I will check the data frequently and keep staff and parents/guardians apprised of the return date at the earliest possible opportunity.  

COVID-19 Testing at the District Office on Monday, March 8, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

As noted in my March 4 email to all staff and parents, Orinda USD is offering COVID-19 testing on Monday, March 8, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the District Office. All Orinda USD staff are encouraged to participate in regular COVID-19 testing and remain fully covered by insurance. Parents/guardians should check with their insurance company to ascertain coverage for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for their child(ren) and themselves. To schedule an appointment for testing on Monday, click here. More information about free or asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students and parents/guardians will be forthcoming soon.  

Plans for the 2021-2022 School Year

I understand that parents/guardians are eager to learn our status for the next school year and are making decisions about their child(ren)’s educational program. It is our shared goal to open Orinda USD schools to all students in our regular schedule, five days a week, at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. The unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 virus and changing health orders/guidance preclude me from making an ironclad guarantee regarding our fall status; however, please know that I will do everything in my power to return Orinda USD to our pre-pandemic schedule this coming school year. Orinda USD will, of course, continue to follow Contra Costa County COVID-19 data closely and adhere to the health orders issued by state and county authorities.

It has been almost a year since we closed our school campuses in response to the pandemic on March 13, 2020. Our shared journey during the past twelve months has been extremely challenging and stressful, and yet we have learned many lessons that we will take with us as we continue moving forward into the new “normal.” The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel appears to be shining more brightly with each passing day.  I hope you’re seeing it too.    

Sincerely,

Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D.

 

February 28, 2021 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,

I cannot adequately describe the joy I have felt seeing our hybrid students when visiting our TK-6th grade classrooms. Several of you have reported how happy your students are to be back on campus. We also remain focused on ensuring that our students who are continuing in distance learning receive an excellent educational program and feel included and connected to our schools. For example, Glorietta recently held an all-school assembly for hybrid and distance learning students. 

In this update, I will share information about the return to campus of our 7th and 8th grade hybrid students, a recap of the recent Special Board Meeting - Budget Workshop, and a reminder to sign up for COVID-19 testing occurring on Monday, 3/1.   

RETURN TO SCHOOL FOR HYBRID STUDENTS IN GRADES 7 & 8 

Revised guidance released this week from the California Department of Public Health eliminates the five-day waiting period after Contra Costa County officially reaches the Red Tier, allowing 7th -12th grade hybrid students to return to campus earlier. The return to OIS of our 7th and 8th grade students will work differently than TK-6th grade students. Our county must be moved to the red tier by the state, and that will happen once we meet the required three criteria for two consecutive weeks. The state typically updates its tier assignment data weekly on Tuesdays with any change in tier status officially occurring the next day - Wednesday. 

The table below displays the most recent state level data for our county that were released on Tuesday, February 23: 

CCC Tier Metrics

IF the state reports our county as meeting the red tier criteria on Tuesday, March 2, AND we continue meeting that criteria for two consecutive weeks, the state could move Contra Costa County to the red tier as early as Tuesday, March 16, with an official tier status start date of Wednesday, March 17. If that scenario occurs, 7th and 8th grade hybrid students in the B cohort could return to OIS as early as Wednesday, March 17, with hybrid students in the A cohort potentially returning on Thursday, March 18. OIS Principal Stacy Wayne and I will continue to monitor the data closely and keep you informed. We are excited to have our 7th and 8th graders back on campus - hopefully soon!

As a reminder, the OIS in-person hybrid and distance learning schedules can be found in the Orinda’s Path to Education Now (OPEN) plan on pages 11-12. 

COVID-19 TESTING ON MONDAY, 3/1, 7 A.M. TO 4 P.M.

We are offering COVID-19 testing for students, staff, and parents/guardians at the District Office weekly on Mondays through our new vendor, Transplant Genomics Laboratory in Fremont. This vendor is able to provide results via email within 24 hours. PLEASE NOTE, the registration process with this company is different - and easier - as all forms are electronic. To register and reserve your appointment time, click here. It is important that you submit all required information in advance to ensure a smooth testing process and a fast turnaround time for your results.

The testing on March 1st is voluntary, but we very strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. By identifying asymptomatic carriers of the virus and having them isolate, we are helping to keep our entire school community safe  In addition, our county’s COVID-19 adjusted case rate is based on the volume of testing that occurs. We need to participate in testing to keep the adjusted case rate below the actual case rate. Thank you! 

I hope that each of you is feeling as hopeful as I am as we enter March. As the case rates continue to drop, please do not let your guard down with this virus: maintain physical distancing, wear your masks, continue to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and stay home if you exhibit symptoms. It takes all of us working together to keep our schools open! 

Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton

 

January 16, 2021 Update

This pandemic has affected all of us greatly and has taught us the need to be flexible and patient. All of our patience is wearing thin, however, and we learned Thursday afternoon that the state has once again shifted its school reopening requirements. Critical implications of this new mandate, January 14, 2021, California Department of Public Health COVID-19 and Reopening Frameworkare as follows for Orinda USD:

  • TK-6 schools may now only reopen in the Purple Tier when Contra Costa County reaches adjusted case rates below 25 per 100,000 population for five consecutive days (pages 8 and 10-11).
  • Schools may not reopen for grades 7-8 if the county is in the Purple Tier. Grades 7-8 can only reopen after the county has been in the Red Tier for 5 consecutive days (pages 8 and 10).
  • Despite providing instruction to our SDC students on the Wagner Ranch and OIS campuses, these school sites are not considered “open” under the new requirements (page 6). Please note, this is contrary to prior guidance that we received from the county when we were developing and implementing the phased reopening of our school sites.     

What does this mean for Orinda USD? The Orinda USD Board will be holding a Special Board meeting on Thursday, January 21, 2021, from 3:00-4:30 p.m., at which time I will be making the following recommendations for action:

  • Expanding specialized small group instruction for TK-8. Our goal is to get as many students as possible back on campus safely through the Guidance Related to Cohorts for Children and Youth.
  • Returning 6th-grade OIS students at the same time that TK-5th grade students are eligible to return for hybrid instruction, i.e. when adjusted county case rates fall below 25 per 100,000 for five consecutive days.
  • Welcoming grades 7-8 back to campus for hybrid instruction after the county has been in the Red Tier for 5 consecutive days and expanding opportunities for students to be on campus in small groups between now and then.
  • Submitting all required documents for the Covid Safety Plan (CSP) to the State Safe Schools for All Team prior to the due date of February 1, 2021, so we are poised to open the day we are allowed. 

I fully understand that many of you may respond to this news with anger and frustration. I share and empathize with your sentiments. While I welcome your comments and concerns, I respectfully request that all communications be civil and professional in tone. We are all being forced to accept what is simply beyond our control; these requirements come from the California Department of Public Health, not the Board or the administration. I can assure you that I remain committed to returning our students and staff to our school campuses on the very first day that we are able to under this new mandate. I will continue to work closely with our school principals, teachers, staff, and the Board to find creative and innovative ways to serve our students in person now while continuing to support our students and staff who will remain in distance learning. 

I hope you will join our Special Board Meeting on January 21 to hear more about my recommendations and the Board’s decisions.

FREE COVID-19 Testing - Next Opportunity on 1/25/21

Our next testing opportunity will be on Monday, January 25. This is voluntary, but we very strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. If you tested on previous test dates, you are welcome to test again. You must make an appointment in advance as well as complete the required forms to partake in this testing day. Here are the details:

Date: Monday, January 25, 2021

Time: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: District Office, 8 Altarinda Rd.

Parking: District Office Lot or Masonic Lodge Lot (across the street)

To access more information including the online scheduling calendar and the required forms, click here.  

 

December 18, 2020 Update

Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa to those who celebrate! We are all excited to bid farewell to 2020 in a few days and usher in the new year. While the holidays can be a joyful time, they can also bring added stress and/or feelings of loneliness that may have been exacerbated by COVID-19. For information on how to cope with stress during the holidays, click here.

Regional Stay Home Order

The availability of Bay Area ICU beds dropped to 12.9% on 12/15, triggering the State's Regional Stay Home Orderwhich will remain in effect for at least three weeks (until Jan. 7) and be lifted when ICU availability meets or exceeds 15%. Schools not already open for in-person instruction may open for distance learning only, except for elementary schools that have received a waiver for in-person learning. Schools that were already open prior to the Order can remain open while in the purple tier. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction, without a waiver, once their county has been in the substantial (red) tier for at least two weeks. Schools must follow these guidelines when they reopen. 

Orinda USD Reopening Timeline and Waiver

During the Special Board Meeting on 12/15, the Board approved a revised Reopening Timeline that notes January 19, 2021, as the date on which elementary and OIS students will return to school campuses for in-person instruction in the hybrid model. As noted above, our county will have to be in the red tier for at least two weeks prior to January 19, or we will have to have a waiver approved by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), CCHS, and the California Department of Public Health. According to CCHS representatives, waivers will only be approved if the county's new cases of COVID-19 drop to 14 per 100,000 or fewer.

Previously, the waiver requirements included needing a separate teacher for each cohort of students. CCHS changed that requirement late last month, so we are now able to apply. The Board provided its approval of the waiver on Tuesday, and today I submitted the completed application to CCCOE. We are now in the queue and are eager to see our students on campus on January 19 if we get the green light from the CCCOE and health agencies.

FREE COVID-19 Testing - Next Opportunity on 1/4/21

Our next testing opportunity will be on Monday, January 4. This is voluntary, but we very strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. If you tested on previous test dates, you are welcome to test again. You must make an appointment in advance as well as complete the required forms to partake in this testing day. Here are the details:

Date: Monday, January 4, 2021

Time: 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Location: District Office, 8 Altarinda Rd.

To access more information including the online scheduling calendar and the required forms, click here.  

OPEN: Orinda's Path to Education Now - UPDATED

The OPEN Plan has been updated to include the newly revised and approved hybrid and distance learning schedules for our elementary schools and OIS. In addition, the OPEN Plan now features appendices such as our contact tracing letter templates, COVID-19 campus maps (carpool, student line-up, restroom usage, recess, etc.), the Community Compact, and more. Check it out!

BASC (Childcare) Update

Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow, and Wagner Ranch Parents' Clubs are working diligently to have their BASC programs available to their families when school campuses open for in-person instruction to students. All three schools' Parent Clubs are hoping to have their site-specific BASC surveys out early next week. Watch your email and respond quickly to the survey so the Parents' Clubs can plan accordingly. Thank you!

Revised Elementary Hybrid and DL Schedules for Students

On December 15, the Board of Trustees approved recommended revisions to the hybrid and distance learning school schedules for elementary students. The hybrid schedule will be implemented when the Contra Costa County COVID-19 health data improve or an approved waiver allows us to have students return to campuses for in-person instruction. These revisions were based on research and collaboration with staff as well as our guiding principles for reopening schools that can be found in Orinda’s Path to Education Now (OPEN) Plan. To the left are images of the schedules that have been approved. Whether students are participating in the hybrid model of instruction or remaining in distance learning, they will have live instruction five days per week.

Principals have sent surveys to all families to confirm their preference for their child(ren) to participate in the hybrid or distance learning model. These surveys are due to be completed today, December 18th. For more details on the process for developing these plans, as well as all the hybrid and distance schedules for TK-5, please click here. If you would like to watch Dr. Seaton and Mr. Schrag’s Board Meeting presentation on the Elementary Revised Schedules, click here.

OIS Hybrid and DL Schedule

The revised OIS Hybrid Schedule was approved by the Board on Tuesday. Students in Cohort A will attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while students in Cohort B will attend school on Wednesdays and Fridays. All students will participate in live instruction via distance learning on Mondays. OIS teachers will provide a window into their classroom by live streaming for the cohort of students who are not in person as well as the students who are distance learning. For more details about the OIS Hybrid Schedule, please click here. You can watch OIS Principal Stacy Wayne and Associate Principal Maple Lai’s presentation to the Board here

 

November 14, 2020 Update

With Thanksgiving approaching soon, I want to express my gratitude to all Orinda stakeholders for your support of our schools during the pandemic. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has issued guidelines entitled "Safer Holiday Celebrations During COVID-19." I urge you to review these guidelines and share them with your family members and friends.

Contra Costa County's Potential Move Back to Purple Tier and Impact on Return to In-Person Learning

On Friday, I received information from Dr. Chris Farnitano, Chief Health Officer for CCHS. According to Dr. Farnitano, Contra Costa County is expected to regress back into the purple tier of the Governor's Blueprint for a Safer Economy on 11/24 or at the latest 12/1. If we have not partially opened a school for in-person learning when the county moves into purple, we will not be able to open until the county moves back into the red tier. Orinda USD is not eligible to apply for a waiver to reopen our elementary schools because we would have to double our teaching staff to meet the cohort requirements of the waiver. Here is a link to the County Health clarification on moving back into the purple tier and what it means for our schools.

Despite the potential for our county to move back into the purple tier, Orinda USD teachers, staff, and administration continue finalizing plans and preparations for our return to in-person learning in the hybrid model of instruction. The current timeline has us opening school sites to students in grades TK-2 beginning the week of November 30. If we are unable to open on November 30 due to the county's purple status, we will continue providing instruction via distance learning and adjust our timeline to open our school campuses for in-person learning at the first available opportunity. Our Special Day Classes consist of small cohorts of students and can remain open in the purple tier while continuing to implement the recommended health and safety protocols.

FREE COVID-19 Testing - New Opportunity on 11/30 at the District Office

Agile Force Inc. in partnership with PMH Laboratory Inc. held COVID-19 testing at the District Office on 11/9. A total of 263 people underwent the RT-PCR test (nasal swab) with 262 people testing negative and one testing positive (asymptomatic). Twelve people underwent the antibody test, and all twelve were negative.

Our next testing opportunity will be on Monday, November 30. This is voluntary, but we very strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. If you tested on November 9, you are welcome to test again. You must make an appointment in advance as well as complete the required forms to partake in this testing day. Here are the details:

Date: Monday, November 30, 2020

Time: 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Location: District Office, 8 Altarinda Rd.

To access more information including the online scheduling calendar and the required forms, click here.  

OPEN: Orinda's Path to Education Now

The OPEN Plan has been updated to include the TK-5 Hybrid Plus schedules/models and the revised OIS Distance Learning schedule/model. In addition, the health and safety section has been revised to reflect one set of symptoms rather than high/low risk, and it reflects new guidance for siblings/households in the event of a positive case or symptoms. A pulmonologist with Stanford Health recently read the OPEN Plan and commented that it is one of the very best she has seen among many she has reviewed.

Hybrid Plus Schedule for Students in Grades TK-5

Our elementary principals developed revised hybrid schedules for students in grades TK-K and 1-5. Their goals included incorporating the best instructional strategies and practices from Distance Learning, providing significant time for students to learn on campus, and addressing parent and staff concerns about the AM/PM model. This schedule will be a "stepping stone" to facilitate returning students to our school campuses safely. The District will increase the in-person time for students in the next iteration of the hybrid schedule. The Board approved timeline for returning students to school campuses is as follows:

  • Grades TK-2: Week of November 30
  • Grades 1-5: Week of December 7
  • Grades 6-8: Week of January 4

Students' actual start day for on-campus instruction will depend on their assigned cohort, A or B. More detailed information about schedules for students participating in the hybrid model and students continuing with distance learning will be forthcoming from each school's principal soon. In addition, all elementary principals are hosting a joint webinar on Wednesday, November 18, from 5-6 p.m. entitled, "Here We Go! Elementary Return to In-Person Learning Webinar for Parents/Guardians." Here is the Zoom link, and the passcode is 459853.

Parent Education Session Recordings

If you missed Thursday's Parent Education event, "Managing Big Feelings During the Pandemic" presented by Dr. Chelsey Hague, you can access the recording here. To access the recordings of other Orinda USD Parent Education events related to the pandemic, click here.

 

October 9, 2020 Update
OPEN: Orinda's Path to Education Now

The OPEN Plan has been updated as follows:

Health and Safety Section (reviewed by five medical doctors)

  • A symptom decision tree has been added to screen all students and staff for potential COVID-19 symptoms. (p. 22)
  • A quick guide has been added to use when someone has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. (p. 23)

Student Wellness and Support

  • document has been created that provides strategies for supporting students in areas such as self-awareness, optimistic thinking, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, goal directed behavior, personal responsibility, and decision making. (p. 25)

Facilities

  • The District has ordered MERV-13 air filters for all classrooms and office spaces. (p. 29)

The OPEN Plan is a "living" document that will continue to be updated to reflect specifics about how Orinda USD is responding to COVID-19 as well as any changes in state and local requirements or guidance. To access the full OPEN Plan, click here or on the image posted at left.

 

September 19, 2020 Update

During the past few weeks, we have all needed some positive experiences to counterbalance the challenges of smoky air and the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, a recent uplifting event was Glorietta fourth grade students' presentations during the 9/14 Board Meeting. Ms. Cetrone taught her class about growth mindset, which means believing that talents can be developed through hard work, effective strategies, and input from others. She asked her students to select one word that would inspire them to maintain a growth mindset this year and develop a three-step action plan for keeping their word in the forefront of their thoughts and actions. Examples of words students selected are breathe, perspective, go, curious, and yet. What would your one word be?

OPEN: Orinda's Path to Education Now

The 2020-2021 School Year Advisory Group met last week to review the OPEN plan and revise it with the latest guidance from state and county officials. The updated document now reflects the state's colored tier system for rating counties based on new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 and positive test rates. It also includes pathways for reopening school campuses. The Board of Trustees is holding a Special Meeting on Thursday, September 24, at 1 p.m. during which they will discuss the OPEN plan and potential timelines for implementing the Board approved in-person hybrid model. The OPEN plan is a living document and will continue to be revised as needed.

Stakeholder Feedback on Distance Learning

Orinda USD recently gathered input from students, parents/guardians, and teachers on our distance learning program for the 2020-2021 school year using different tools. The Director of Curriculum, David Schrag, and I held virtual focus groups for fifth grade and OIS students to hear firsthand the aspects they like and dislike about distance learning to date. Parents/guardians and teachers were provided with separate, online Thoughtexchange prompts focused on distance learning to which they responded with one or more thoughts. Participants in Thoughtexchange are able to rate others' thoughts, and those ratings help determine the thoughts that resonate most with the group. Highlights of the feedback obtained from students, parents, and teachers can be viewed here.

Read more to learn about Orinda USD's new partnership with the City of Orinda on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and our progress on Measures E and I facilities projects.

 

Orinda USD Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan

At the September 14th Board of Trustees meeting, a draft of the Orinda USD Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan (LCP) was shared. Per Senate Bill 98, all school districts in California must develop a plan to outline and memorialize their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing impact on the district's educational programs. The LCP provides details about the planning process for the 2020-21 school year and includes descriptions of the following:  

  • Addressing gaps in learning
  • Conducting meaningful stakeholder engagement
  • Maintaining transparency
  • Addressing the needs of unduplicated pupils, students with unique needs, and students experiencing homelessness
  • Providing access to necessary devices and connectivity for distance learning
  • Providing resources and supports to address student and staff mental health and social-emotional well-being
  • Continuing to provide school meals for students

Read more.

Orinda USD Online Parent University

With our Distance Learning Program and the impact of COVID 19 on all families, it is clear how the role of parents has shifted; parents are partners with teachers now more than ever before. In response to this daunting challenge, Orinda USD developed a comprehensive and robust set of parent education sessions designed to meet the diverse needs of all our parents and families. The Orinda USD Online Parent University offered sessions from a range of experts, starting with our phenomenal teacher leaders who presented sessions targeting specific grade and developmental levels of students.

Read more

 

August 12, 2020 Update

Welcome Back to School! David Schrag, our Director of Curriculum, and I shared the following welcome back message with teachers on Monday. I thought it might resonate with you as well.

Welcome to what promises to be an extraordinary 2020-21 school year! Many of us have been through the process of building a new house or remodeling a house while living in it. Both projects have their challenges, but building a new house while living elsewhere is a whole lot easier. I bring this up because the normal beginning of a school year is like building a new house. Lots of prep work gets done in the spring, then teachers, staff, and administrators have time in the summer to get things ready before the big move-in date, while no one is there.

Getting prepared for the 2020-21 school year has looked very different from years past. Instead of getting classrooms ready to welcome our students, teachers have been focused on learning best practices for distance learning and developing their online lessons with colleagues. Custodians and maintenance staff have deep cleaned classrooms, added plexiglass barriers to school offices, ordered extra hand-washing stations, and prepared PPE to be ready for distribution when we are able to return to school sites. Principals have been immersed in dividing class lists into AM/PM cohorts, hiring staff, and supporting all site staff, students, and parents during a pandemic. All Orinda USD staff, regardless of their specific roles, have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible start to the new school year.

Read more

City of Orinda Parks and Recreation Childcare During Distance Learning

Our partners with the City of Orinda Parks and Recreation Department are offering Distance Learning Support and Enrichment for Orinda residents with Skyhawks Orinda School & Sports Club. Session 1 is limited to 36 students and there are only a few spots left, so please register now before it’s too late.

Read more

Upcoming Parent Education

We are committed to supporting parents/guardians during Distance Learning and beyond. To that end, we are excited to offer several one-hour, virtual parent education sessions for parents/guardians in the near future that will be recorded for those who are unable to participate in real time. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via a Google Form prior to each session.

Sessions will be presented by our own Orinda USD teachers, specialists, and parents, and topics will include:

  • How to Navigate Orinda USD’s Distance Learning Platforms with Your Child
  • Strategies for Helping Your Child Have a Successful Distance Learning Experience (TK-K, 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8)
  • Strategies to Support Your Elementary/OIS Student’s Social/Emotional Wellness During Distance Learning
  • Put Your Oxygen Mask on First: Strategies for Parents to Support Their Own Social/Emotional Wellness
  • Tips for Coping with Anxiety - Elementary/OIS
  • How to Keep Your Child Engaged in Distance Learning

More information including specific dates, times, session descriptions, and Zoom links will be forthcoming soon!

 

May 15, 2020 Update

Preparing for the 2020-2021 School Year

At this time we typically work simultaneously on completing the current school year and planning for the next one. While we have begun preparing for 2020-2021, we are still waiting to receive definitive information from our state and local government and health sources about the protocols we will be expected to follow to keep students and staff safe in the fall. Our educational program could include in person learning at school, distance learning, and/or a combination of the two. I am convening a 2020-2021 School Year Advisory Group comprised of teachers, staff, parents, administrators, and students that will meet regularly to determine how we can implement public health recommendations to keep our students and staff safe in reopened facilities. This group will discuss a number of topics related to providing our children with the best education possible in a safe environment. Topics tackled will also include cleaning protocols, medically fragile children and staff, teacher training and support for distance learning, student intervention, students with special needs, student and staff social/emotional health, technology access for students and staff, and others.

I will survey our community during the next two weeks to gather data that will inform our decision making about the 2020-2021 school year. I thank you in advance for your participation.

Distance Learning Update
Orinda USD continues to collect feedback and data from our stakeholders regarding their distance learning experiences. This month we focused on students and have used a variety of ways to engage their voices:

  • Surveys that measure students' experiences and engagement levels
  • Focus groups of students in grades K-5 and 6-8
  • Visiting teachers’ live Zoom sessions with students

We continue to receive survey responses from students (more than 400 third-fifth graders so far). Initial analysis of the survey data reveals the following trend:

  • More than 85% of the respondents in grades 3-5 gave strong marks for their caring relationships at school.

 

If your third-eighth grade student has not yet completed the survey, we would love to hear his/her feedback on distance learning. Click on the button for your child's school on the left to access the survey.

Read more to learn additional information about the initial student survey results.

Summer Opportunities for Learning
The Teachers on Special Assignment are working on updating and revising our Summer Learning Activities webpage, which is located on our Distance Learning Site. Parents/ guardians will find rich resources to provide children with optional opportunities for learning after our school year ends on May 29th. This page contains content from academic areas: English/language arts, math, STEAM, and technology. It also contains a webpage devoted to Social Emotional Learning and Support, with plentiful resources such as live videos from our partner Mindful Littles.

 

April 30, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Parents/Guardians and Staff,

Our community has been sheltering in place for seven weeks to combat the spread of COVID-19. This previously unimaginable situation has taken a tremendous toll on all of us. Our parents/guardians are navigating working from home while helping their children complete schoolwork, and our teachers are learning an entirely new way to do their jobs while also balancing teaching their own children and other responsibilities. While the circumstances have been daunting, there have been many successes and happy moments as well - lessons learned and newfound ways that families, students, and teachers are bonding with each other. I am hopeful that we will take the best of what we have experienced during the shelter-in-place and continue implementing those practices when restrictions are lifted.  

Results of Phase Two Distance Learning Surveys
We are working constantly to ensure the best possible outcomes from Distance Learning for all of our students. To that end, we surveyed our parents/guardians and teachers regarding their experiences with Phase Two of Distance Learning. Director of Curriculum and Instruction David Schrag presented the results of these surveys to the Board of Trustees during Monday’s Special Board Meeting. We greatly appreciate the high participation numbers: 951 parent/guardian responses and 98 teacher responses. Below are the overarching themes from the surveys:

 

Parent/Guardian Survey Highlights Teacher Survey Highlights
Challenges with time/Demands required to support students at home Significant time/workload issues with Distance Learning Experience
Appreciation for teachers and what has been provided Providing student feedback using digital tools is time-intensive
Strong interest in expanding live sessions including teaching new content Increased collaboration with colleagues and developing greater capacity with technology

 

The District is also in the process of surveying our students to gain a direct understanding of their school experience since our campuses closed. The input of all of these important stakeholders - students, teachers, and parents/guardians - is critical and will be used to improve our Distance Learning program as we move forward.  

Governor’s Announcement - Reopening Schools
During a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Newsom articulated for the first time his interest in having schools open in July as part of a recovery cycle. Later that day, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, issued a statement that expressed interest in collaborating with the Governor but noted “we still have more questions than answers” about the possibility of schools reopening earlier.

We in Orinda USD will continue to be guided by our public health officials, with whom we talk weekly, about the path of the novel coronavirus and its potential impact on our schools. We are skeptical about any early return as we believe there is significant planning ahead of us to implement public health directives on physical distancing when we do reopen. We are expecting additional state guidance and local direction in the middle of May. Equally important, the majority of our employees work under a school calendar that is adopted over a year in advance of the school start date. Any change in the work year must be negotiated with our teachers’ union and classified staff union. 

The 2020-2021 School Year
While we continue to hear that school next year will look very different due to physical distancing requirements, we are currently still planning on Thursday, August 13, as our first day of school. We will determine the details of our school schedules for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year once we gain more information and parameters from state and local officials.  As always, I will keep you informed of those details and what to expect as soon as the information is available.

If you have questions or comments, please contact me at cseaton@orindaschools.org or the Board of Trustees at schoolboard@orindaschools.org.  Thank you for your continued efforts to make Distance Learning successful for all of our students.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

 

April 21, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,  

During this time of Distance Learning, the safety and wellness of our school communities remain our top priority. Self-care is essential for you and your family to stay grounded emotionally during times of stress and anxiety. This includes establishing routines, making regular social contact, participating in consistent physical activity, eating healthy meals, and getting adequate sleep. We truly hope you are finding comfort that helps you regulate and regenerate in a meaningful way.

Children may be experiencing stress, grief, and loss, and are more vulnerable to these effects.  It can be difficult to recognize these changes in your child(ren) and to plan which tools and strategies will help.  A new resource, The California Surgeon General’s Playbook: Stress Relief during COVID-19, provides steps and strategies that may be beneficial.   

Connections to caring adults and peers are more important than ever as we work through this challenging time together. If you need ideas regarding how to support your child(ren) or developing a plan to help with emotional support, please contact our Wellness Staff:

Teri Jasman, Behavior Specialist 

terijasman@jasmanbehaviorconsult.com

Heather McCall, Behavior Specialist 

hmccall@orinda.k12.ca.us

Nico Peters, Del Rey & Glorietta School Psychologist

npeters@orinda.k12.ca.us 

Niva Dotan, Wagner Ranch & Sleep Hollow School Psychologist

ndotan@orinda.k12.ca.us 

Atalya Rubin, OIS School Psychologist

arubin@orinda.k12.ca.us 

Heather Raser, OIS Counselor A-L

hraser@orinda.k12.ca.us 

Jay Stevens, OIS Counselor M-Z

jstevens@orinda.k12.ca.us 

If you or a family member are feeling overwhelmed with sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  There are also additional resources available:

Partner abuse is never okay, and there are people standing by to help, especially during this health crisis. If you can, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or text LOVEIS to 22522 for 24/7 help in English or Spanish. If you can’t call, visit TheHotline.org to learn how to create a safety plan or get immediate help with the 24/7 “Chat Now” feature. Call or text the Victims of Crime Resource Center at 1-800-VICTIMS line for information on victim services programs in California.  There are additional resources available:

Community members play an important role in protecting children from abuse and neglect.  If you are worried about the health and/or safety of a child, call 877-881-1116.  Working together, we can best support the safety, health, and wellness of every Orinda USD student.

Sincerely,
Dr. Carrie Nerheim
Director, Student Services

 

April 17, 2020 Update

It has been just one month since Contra Costa Health Services issued the shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19. Since that time, we have all done our best to adjust to a very different, new normal. It is impressive the way our Orinda USD stakeholders have stepped up in these turbulent times. Our teachers and administrators have worked tirelessly to implement instruction for our students via Distance Learning. Parents and guardians have partnered with us like never before in support of their students' learning at home. In addition, our classified employees have continued supporting essential functions of the District in countless ways.

Governor's Message

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced that when students return to school, possibly in the fall, they will likely come back to schools organized in radically different ways in order to protect students, staff, and families. According to the Governor, the main challenge in reopening schools is how to ensure physical distancing among students and adults. Please be assured that the Board, administrators, teachers, and staff will collaborate to develop solutions that are focused on what is best for students using the most current information and data available. We are in the early stages of these discussions and will keep all Orinda USD community members informed of our plans to address the continued challenges related to COVID-19.

Meals for Students in Need

Orinda USD continues to partner with the Acalanes Union High School District to provide meals for students in need. AUHSD is conducting a walk-up distribution of daily prepared meals, free of charge, for all children in the community. Children need to be present to receive meals, and each child 18 years and younger may take one lunch and one breakfast. Meal distribution times and locations are as follows:

  • Campolindo High School (Cafeteria Window) – 300 Moraga Rd, Moraga, CA 94665, CHS Meal Time 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 
  • Las Lomas High School (Cafeteria Window) – 1460 South Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, LLHS Meal Time 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Please be reminded that there will be no congregating while eating; all food is to be taken and consumed offsite. Participants are expected to follow physical distancing guidelines at all times.

Distance Learning Update

On April 8, Orinda USD implemented Phase Two of our Distance Learning Program during which educators are teaching students essential new content that will help ensure their success in the subsequent grade level. Teachers are collaborating with their grade level or departmental colleagues to design high-quality, engaging lessons for all students. Our primary goals for students in Phase Two are:

  • Social/Emotional Wellbeing 
  • Instructional Continuity 
  • Access for All Students
  • Teacher Training and Support

Other key features of Phase Two include:

  • Introduction of new content and live sessions via Zoom for “office hours” and other purposes
  • Elementary staff utilizing digital platforms such as SeeSaw and Google Classroom for delivering content
  • Middle School staff utilizing School Loop and Google Classroom along with live sessions
  • Elementary staff using the Learning Activity Guide as an overview of students’ work
  • Digital tools such as the Distance Learning Site for parents and the Teacher Resource Site

We are collecting feedback from parents/guardians and teachers to inform our work and improve our Phase Two Distance Learning program. Parents/guardians who have not yet completed our Orinda USD Distance Learning Parent Survey are strongly encouraged to do so before the window closes on Monday, April 20. Thank you!  

 

April 7, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Staff and Families,

As you may have seen, this afternoon public health officers and county superintendents in six Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco) issued a joint press release announcing that “they will extend the suspension of in-class instruction through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.” You can read the full press release here. Based on this information, Orinda Union School District school facilities will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. 

Although our physical campuses will not reopen this school year, Orinda USD staff will continue to support students in a virtual learning environment and deliver lessons via distance learning to meet the academic and social/emotional needs of our students. You can access our Distance Learning Guidelines for Parents/Guardians here. We are working on plans to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, including fifth and eighth grade promotion ceremonies, and will share them in the coming weeks.  

While we have anticipated this outcome and communicated as much last week, I know this news is disappointing. This situation remains a challenge, but our health experts continue to remind us that following the stay-at-home order and practicing strict physical distancing are the two best ways to slow the transmission of this virus. For the health of our community, our healthcare workers, and the effectiveness of our school closures, please do your part to isolate as a family unit. 

Thank you for your continuous support during this unprecedented challenge. Your positive messages, encouragement, feedback, and partnership are greatly appreciated.  

Wishing you good health,

Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

April 6, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Families,

As a reminder, our students will begin Phase Two of Orinda USD’s distance learning this Wednesday, April 8. Our teachers completed one day of Professional Development/Planning today, and will participate in one additional day tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7. The faculty and staff of Orinda USD remain committed to supporting our students by providing high-quality learning opportunities, social/emotional support, and a degree of normalcy. 

As promised in my April 3 communication, I am sharing with you Orinda USD's Phase Two Distance Learning Guidelines for Parents/Guardians, which contains information about our transition from classroom-based instruction to distance learning. Please read through this document carefully, as it contains detailed information about your child(ren)’s learning experience. Under the distance learning model, Orinda USD will continue to offer our students engaging, standards-based educational opportunities, with the necessary support structures to help them fully engage in learning opportunities and be successful in the subsequent grade level.

As we enter into this next phase of distance learning, we will learn more about effective and meaningful practices for teaching and learning through distance learning, as well as ways to maintain strong connections within our classroom and school communities. These guidelines are a living document that will evolve as we learn, but it is my hope that they address many of the questions or concerns you may have about what to expect as we enter Phase Two. Please reach out to your child(ren)’s teacher(s) or school Principal if you have specific questions.

Thank you for your continued partnership,


Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Orinda Phase Two Parent Guidelines for Distance Learning.pdf 

 

April 3, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Staff and Families,

In the three weeks since we transitioned from teaching students in classrooms to implementing distance learning, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every facet of our lives.  Despite the personal and professional challenges our teachers, staff, and administrators are facing as a result of COVID-19, we remain steadfast in our commitment to meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of our students.  National education leader Dr. Joshua Starr recently stated, “Kids are always learning; what they’re learning now is how adults respond to a crisis.” It is important to model for our students that when faced with adversity, we work through each obstacle collaboratively, creatively, and thoughtfully.

Governor & State Superintendent’s Announcements About School Closures
As mentioned earlier this week, on Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sent a letter to County Superintendents recommending that school campuses close for the duration of this school year, due to current safety concerns and the need for ongoing physical distancing. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced and reiterated on Thursday that families and educators should operate with the expectation that schools will not reopen.  At this time, neither the Governor nor the State Superintendent of Public Instruction has issued a formal declaration extending school closures through the end of the school year; however, the Governor’s and State Superintendent’s statements certainly indicate that Orinda USD must prepare for this expected outcome.  This is difficult news to share, but we are planning for students’ education to be delivered via distance learning through the last day of school, May 29, 2020.

Transition to Phase Two Distance Learning
On Monday, families will receive an overview from the District about our Phase Two Distance Learning Plan which focuses on the essential standards necessary for each student’s success in the subsequent grade level.  As a reminder, Monday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 7, are Professional Development/Planning Days for teachers. Our teachers and staff are collaborating closely to provide an engaging experience for all learners. We will collect data from our students, parents, and teachers to continually strengthen the distance learning we provide. 

Working Together
I am proud of our entire Orinda USD staff for the ways in which they have adjusted to delivering or supporting a high-quality education for each of our students via distance learning.  In addition, I am indebted to our parents and guardians who have stepped up in unimaginable ways to support our students’ learning at home. Though it is highly unlikely we will be able to welcome students back to campus this school year, we are confident that learning will continue, and that every educator and support professional in our District will work tirelessly on behalf of the students and families we serve.  

Our community has come together and developed creative solutions to an unprecedented challenge. I feel confident that we will one day reflect on this era in our history as a time we rose to the occasion and surprised ourselves with our flexibility, perseverance, and compassion.

Thank you for your continued partnership,

Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

 

March 31, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,

This afternoon I received a letter from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond stating, “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. This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.”  The letter can be accessed HERE.  Superintendent Thurmond has stressed that his recommendation was not a directive; it is ultimately up to local school districts and/or health departments to decide whether school campuses should remain open or closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  

The Orinda Union School District Board of Trustees will address the potential extension of school closures beyond May 3 at its April 13, 2020, regular Board Meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Members of the public will have the opportunity to submit comments in writing to the Board in advance of the meeting and will be able to connect to the meeting via Zoom.  If you would like to be added to the Board agenda email distribution list to receive notifications about this and all future Board meetings, email Debbie Jamieson at djamieson@orinda.k12.ca.us.  
  
Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools

 

March 27, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community, 

First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our incredible community here within Orinda USD.  I am so appreciative of all the time and energy everyone has invested in continuing to provide exceptional educational experiences for our students during this unprecedented time in history.  Spring Break officially starts today; while it may not look like the Spring Break your family had planned, I hope you are able to create quality time over the next ten days with your loved ones.

At our Special Board Meeting this afternoon, our Orinda USD Directors shared a presentation with the Board, which we hope you will review as it contains pertinent information about Phase 2 of Online Learning, which will begin on Wednesday, April 8.  (You may have to open the link to the presentation in a new tab to access it successfully.)  As a reminder, teachers and staff will be participating in two professional development days on Monday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 7, so these will be non-instructional days for students.  Over the past few weeks, teachers shifted their entire teaching model from in-person instruction to online instruction to implement Phase 1 of Online Learning, which was no small feat.  Our teachers have done an incredible job with this transition thus far, but there more learning and preparation are needed as they move into Phase 2 of Online Learning.

Phase 2 will focus primarily on the essential standards for each grade level, introducing new content, so that students are prepared for the next academic year.  Teachers will also be introducing other ways to connect directly with their students, as we know these social and emotional links to teachers and classmates help immensely with overall mental health and stability.  While we realize there are still a number of questions in the community about what Phase 2 will look like and what the expectations are for students, please be assured that our teachers, administrators, and staff continue to work in an extremely hard and thoughtful manner to roll out Phase 2 post-Spring Break.  

We will have our official Orinda USD Phase 2 Online Learning Plan with more detailed information ready to send out to families by April 8.  Principals and teachers will also be communicating directly with families to offer additional updates.  In the meantime, please read over the linked presentation shared at today’s Special Board Meeting and let us know if you have specific questions.

With kindness, compassion, creativity, support from parents/guardians, and a commitment to teach and learn in a sea of change, our students and our teachers will prevail through this epidemic, and our Orinda community will emerge stronger and more cohesive than ever.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy Spring Break,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools

 

March 25, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Community,

At 11:00 a.m. today, seven Bay Area County Health Officers in conjunction with six County Superintendents of Schools issued a joint press release requiring school districts to extend student dismissals from regular school attendance through May 1, 2020, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.  During this time, residents are expected to adhere to the “Shelter in Place” orders issued by the Public Health Officers on March 16 and stay home except for essential activities until further notification from their local health department.  

Protect Yourself and Others
All community members are urged to keep practicing the guidance provided by Public Health Officers including: 

  • Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from people who do not live in your immediate household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Stay home when you are feeling sick.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. 
  • Engage in regular exercise or physical activity.

Online Learning for Students
While the first two weeks of our online learning plan have focused on building a platform, maintaining strong student connections, and reviewing prior learning, we have been preparing vigorously for the next phase of online learning in anticipation that school closures could be extended.  This second phase will include the introduction of new content from teachers and increased opportunities for engagement and essential learning that will prepare students for the next grade level.  This new phase will begin April 8, 2020. 

To support our teachers in their preparation for further implementation of distance learning, Monday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 7, 2020, will be Professional Development and Planning days.  These two days will be non-instructional days for our students.  Thank you for your understanding and support.  

Access to Technology
We recognize online learning that incorporates new concepts and skills and extends daily time commitments for students will likely require additional time on a laptop, desktop, or tablet.  Our Director of Technology, Bobby Bardenhagen, will provide more opportunities for students who need a device to borrow one from the District.  To request a device for your child/ren, please click here

Special Board Meeting on Friday, 3/27
As shared in yesterday’s update, the Orinda USD Board of Trustees will hold a Special Board Meeting on Friday, March 27, 2020, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. to discuss the District’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and the decision by County Health Officers and Superintendents of Schools to extend school closures.  Following the COVID-19 dialogue, the Board will discuss and take action on items related to our Measures E and I facilities bond projects.  

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order that allows members of the Board and the public to participate in this meeting via Zoom teleconference.  Members of the public will be able to submit public comments electronically prior to the meeting.  Comments submitted electronically will be read aloud.  All public comments are limited to three minutes per person.  

The agenda for this Special Meeting will be published on or before 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020.  More information about how members of the public can submit public comments electronically and participate in the meeting via Zoom will be included with the agenda.  If you would like to be added to the Board agenda email distribution list to receive notifications about this and all future Board meetings, email Debbie Jamieson at djamieson@orinda.k12.ca.us.  

Our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, David Schrag, and I will provide more detailed information about the next phase of our online learning platform for students following Spring Break.  Thank you for your patience and support as we continue working together through this ever-changing situation.  If new information regarding COVID-19 becomes available, I will be in touch as soon as possible.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent

 

March 24, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community, 

Many of the most meaningful and memorable interactions people have in their lives are with their teachers.  It has not been lost on any of us that our teachers miss their students, and our students miss their teachers.  Please join me in thanking our teachers for the incredible bonds they have built with our students and the hard work they have been putting in daily to transition to online instruction.  I also want to extend my gratitude to parents, guardians, and family members for the work they are doing to partner with our teachers while juggling numerous other commitments.

Some of you have reached out to share successes and challenges you and your child/ren have experienced since our first day of online learning on March 16.  Please know that I appreciate your feedback; it helps us improve as we plan for the potential extension of school closures beyond April 7.  I expect to receive new guidance regarding timing for school closures from Contra Costa Health Services and the Contra Costa County Office of Education in the near future and will share that information with you as quickly as possible.  

Special Board Meeting on Friday, 3/27
The Orinda USD Board of Trustees will hold a Special Board Meeting on Friday, March 27, 2020, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. to discuss COVID-19 and our Measures E and I facilities bond program.  Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order that allows members of the Board to participate in this meeting via Zoom teleconference, and I will participate from the Orinda Union School District Office located at 8 Altarinda Road.  Members of the public will be able to submit public comments electronically prior to the meeting, or they may comment in person at the District Office in accordance with current social distancing guidelines.  Comments submitted electronically will be read aloud.  All public comments are limited to three minutes per person.  

The agenda for the Special Meeting will be published on or before 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020.  More information about submitting public comments electronically and participating in the meeting via Zoom will be included with the agenda.  If you would like to be added to the Board agenda email distribution list to receive notifications about this and all future Board meetings, please email Debbie Jamieson at djamieson@orinda.k12.ca.us  

I wish you strength, good health, and continued resilience.

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools

 

March 22, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,

Effective immediately, all Orinda USD playground equipment is closed.  Since my communication on March 20, I have consulted with physicians who have provided me with additional insight and guidance about playground use at our school sites.  We cannot ensure that every family will properly disinfect the school playground equipment, and virus particles can linger on surfaces.  Furthermore, it is difficult for parents to prevent their child/ren from placing fingers into their mouths or on their faces.  As a result, we must, unfortunately, close the school playground equipment.  

Additionally, children should not meet outside of school in any sort of group, as these interactions put everyone at risk.  While I recognize it is difficult for students to be out of school and separated from their peers, it is critical that families follow this essential social distancing guideline.  We do not want to negate the positive public health effects of our school closures.

The CDC encourages children to stay active during this time.  Playing outdoors is good for both physical and mental health.  For this reason, families are welcome to use our school fields and blacktop areas but must adhere to State social distancing guidelines by maintaining at least six feet of separation between themselves and people not in their immediate household, including friends and relatives.  In addition, walking, hiking, and riding bikes are all excellent ways to enjoy our beautiful surroundings.  While inside, use indoor activity breaks (e.g., stretch breaks, dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child/ren stay healthy and focused.

Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to communicating with you again on or before Tuesday, March 24.  As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools

 

March 20, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”  - Willa Cather

Every day over the past week I have been amazed by innumerable acts of human kindness.  As we all hunker down with our families during this statewide shelter in place, there are a plethora of bright spots emerging across the world that connect us to one another despite the physical separation we must maintain.  From entire cities singing across balconies in Italy, to Mo Willems’ Lunch Doodles for kids, to a variety of free online musical concerts, to the generous donations of masks to local hospitals, we are thinking of others and coming together during this difficult time.  

Shelter in Place
As you are all aware, on Thursday Governor Newsom announced that the entire state is on a mandated shelter in place, a decision that impacts over 40 million California residents.  So far, we do not have clarity from the state about when this order will be lifted, but I will keep everyone in the Orinda USD community apprised of any timing developments or announcements as they arise.  While the Contra Costa Health Services’ (CCHS) shelter in place order is scheduled to end at midnight on April 7, we need to be prepared that the order may be extended later into April or even through the end of the school year. 

Online Learning Platform - Phase Two After Spring Break
Our goals for this week and next have been to maintain strong connections with students and families, practice prior learning, establish a sense of normalcy, and support the wellness and health of students, parents, and staff.  In preparation for an extended shelter in place, it is important that we begin focusing on the next phase of our online learning platform which we will implement on Wednesday, April 8, should the shelter in place be extended.  Our guiding question for phase two of our online learning platform is:  What are the most essential aspects of learning that our students need to be successful in the next academic year?

To that end, we are planning for phase two of our online learning platform to include new academic content and expand the opportunities for students to learn while keeping in mind everyone’s current reality.  We will continue to focus on these learning activities being accessible, engaging, and flexible for all students.  We have heard from parents who want more, and others who struggle to access what we have already provided.  If you are worried about this new normal for school, you are not alone.  All of us are weathering this storm together, working as hard as we can, as creatively as we can, always with our students at the forefront of our approach.  If you run into a barrier or a problem, please assume goodwill on the part of everyone involved, and let’s problem-solve together.

It takes a Herculean effort to be a great teacher during normal circumstances.  Our teachers have had to shift to teaching via an online learning platform in a very short period of time; they have made instruction meaningful for their students and I am forever indebted to them for their efforts.  We appreciate your patience and support as our teachers work diligently with their colleagues to plan for phase two of our online learning platform.  

OUSD Playground Facilities
Our Orinda USD school playground facilities offer an outdoor community space for families and Orinda residents.  We realize that for many, these sites are an important outdoor escape during this time of shelter in place.  However, we require all community members who use our school playgrounds to observe social distancing practices.  Furthermore, visitors must wipe down the play equipment before and after use.  Thank you for adhering to these guidelines to keep our children and community safe.

Spring Break
I want to remind our school community that we have a scheduled break for students and staff from March 30 to April 3, and we will be observing that break. Teachers and District staff will not be available to respond to requests during that week; please respect our employees’ need for a break.  We know the loss of travel opportunities and long-standing plans create another point of stress for everyone, and our teachers and school staff members have to face the same lost opportunities that our families are experiencing.  Thank you for your understanding.

Mindset Matters
As we teach our children on a daily basis, mindset matters.  If we do our best to approach these times with flexibility and positivity, our students will also learn to do this now and in future challenging circumstances. Though some days and hours will feel dark and stormy, we must remember that as a community and a world we are all tackling this situation together, with patience and empathy.  I look forward to providing you with the next update on Tuesday, March 24. 

Wishing you a peaceful and calm weekend,
Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of School

 

March 18, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda USD Community,

            “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”    - Albert Einstein

While COVID-19 has proven to be far more impactful than many of us ever imagined, it is no match for the combined strength of our teachers, staff, administrators, parents, students, and the greater Orinda community.  Contra Costa Health Services’ March 16 order to shelter in place provides us with the opportunity to limit the spread of COVID-19 significantly.  While it is extremely difficult for each of us to alter our ways of life so considerably, our collective efforts have the power to save innumerable lives.  

This letter provides the latest information about COVID-19 as it pertains to your child’s educational program.  As you know, the response to COVID-19 at the local, state, and federal levels continues to unfold making it challenging for all of us to stay abreast of the latest information.  I urge you to continue to monitor sites such as the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCalifornia Department of Public Health, and Contra Costa Health Services to ensure you are receiving accurate information about COVID-19.

Updates from the Governor and State Superintendent
During a press conference yesterday, Governor Newsom spoke about the possibility that California schools will not reopen again until the fall.  The Governor’s comment did not represent a new policy or decision about schools; rather, he was likely speaking as a father who is figuring out this new normal like the rest of us.  The reality is that we do not know with certainty when schools will reopen.  Our target date for schools to reopen is currently April 8, 2020, but rest assured we have already begun planning for curriculum and instruction in the event the closure is extended later into April or even May.  

Earlier today the State Superintendent of Public Instruction announced that there will be no state testing (CAASPP) for students this school year.  The cancellation of CAASPP allows teachers to focus entirely on providing new, high-quality, online educational opportunities for our students during this time without worrying about administering a test when we return to school.  

Contingency Plans for School Closure Beyond April 7
Should school closures be extended beyond April 7, Orinda USD teachers are identifying important new content for students.  Your child’s teacher(s) are collaborating with their grade level and/or departmental colleagues to determine effective means of teaching these essential standards using our online platform.  We are still working on the details, but we already have several fundamental elements in place.  

Please understand that live streaming instruction is not a feasible option.  During this time of shelter in place, many of our parents are working from home, siblings are sharing devices, and teachers are providing childcare for their own children.  By providing online lessons that can be accessed throughout the day, we are honoring the variety of circumstances our families and educators are experiencing.  We realize that some parents are eager for extended instruction, and teachers are working hard to plan and prepare experiences that will engage and be accessible to all learners.  We have developed a resource page for extension activities that families can access here.

Orinda USD is still observing Spring Break from March 30 through April 3, 2020.  You will not receive lessons or email from your child’s teacher(s) during that week.  Thank you for your understanding.

Special Education - Students on IEPs
We are working with the California Department of Education, the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), and our partner districts in Lamorinda to develop plans for our students with special needs in the event of an extended closure.  Your child’s case manager will be reaching out to you soon to touch base and offer assistance.  

Food for Students in Need
For families in need, Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) is providing free lunch to all children 18 and younger from Campolindo High School (300 Moraga Rd. in Moraga) and Las Lomas High School (1460 S. Main St. in Walnut Creek).  Schools will be open Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. for students to pick-up lunch from the snack windows to take home.  No identification or proof of school enrollment is required, but a child must be present.  Families will not need to enter the school building for pick-up.  AUHSD kindly asks that you adhere to all social distancing guidance. Please note, lunch may not be consumed on school grounds.  As of now, the free meals for students in need will be available through Friday, March 27.  We will provide updates regarding AUHSD’s program and its potential extension. 

Student and Adult Wellness
During this time of great uncertainty, it is understandable that children and adults can feel anxious and overwhelmed.  Your child may respond differently to the COVID-19 situation depending on his/her age.  This resource from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides potential reactions according to age group and the best ways parents can respond.  In addition, our partner Mindful Littles has worked tirelessly to create mindfulness and social-emotional learning resources for families to use during this time:  

Starting this Friday, March 20, Mindful Littles will be launching a digital program to bring mindfulness, self-care, service projects, and kindness activities to families; if you are interested in receiving these emails, please sign up here.  Furthermore, Orinda parent Elizabeth Sautter M.A., CCC is a licensed speech and language pathologist.  She has shared these free resources that include example school schedules, steps for checking in with your child on a daily basis, calming menus for you and your child, and a mindfulness resource guide.  

In my neighborhood, I am seeing more families going on walks, riding bikes, and hiking together than ever before.  This is a great time to read and discuss a book as a family, play cards and/or board games, assemble jigsaw puzzles, and participate in acts of kindness such as writing notes to residents of nursing homes or shopping for and delivering groceries to our neighbors who are elderly and/or immunocompromised.  We have a unique opportunity to practice patience, resiliency, and compassion.

This is a challenging time for us all, but I really believe that we will come out of this situation stronger, more united, and better able to connect with our students and families.  The collaborative work happening with our teachers and staff will pay huge dividends as this crisis has necessitated new and exciting methods of delivering a true 21st-century curriculum.  I look forward to providing you with the next update on or before Friday, March 20, at 4 p.m. 

Sincerely,     
Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Orinda USD Superintendent of Schools

 

March 16, 2020 Update

Dear Orinda Union School District Community,

Thank you for your continued support during this unprecedented time.  Orinda Union School District wants to ensure you are up to date regarding the latest developments about COVID-19 as it relates to your child’s educational program.

Shelter in Place Order from Contra Costa Health Services

In light of today’s shelter in place order from Contra Costa Health Services which goes into effect tonight, March 16, the earliest school may reopen is Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  In compliance with the shelter in place order, all Orinda USD school sites, Before and After School Clubs (BASC), and the District Office will be closed.  

Answering Parent Questions about Student Learning 

You should have received communication from your child’s teacher(s) today regarding the options available to your student through Orinda USD’s online learning platform.  Our goal during the school closure is to support students’ social and emotional wellbeing by maintaining strong connections to school and by providing high-quality instructional opportunities for continued learning.  We have developed a frequently asked questions document to assist you with the online learning platform.  

Parent Resources

The District has developed a COVID-19 webpage and is continually updating it with the most relevant information: www.orindaschools.org/covid19.  Additionally, we want to remind you about the following resources that may assist you in speaking with your child about COVID-19 and school closures:

I have been incredibly impressed with the hard work and dedication of our teachers and staff in their response to this crisis.  Their flexibility, resilience, and professionalism have been remarkable.  Likewise, we are fortunate to have such engaged parents who have been tremendous partners with our teachers and staff.  I plan to send my next communication regarding COVID-19 by or before Wednesday, March 18, at 4 p.m.  

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent

 

March 15, 2020 Update

In case you missed it, below you will find Dr. Seaton's message to the Orinda USD community about the closure of Orinda USD schools from 3/16-3/27/20.  For the latest information about COVID-19 as it relates to Orinda USD schools, log on to www.orindaschools.org/COVID19.

Important Announcement - COVID 19 School Closure

Dear Orinda USD Community,

We recognize that the past weeks have been challenging as we all navigate this unprecedented and dynamic global pandemic. We greatly appreciate the communication sent to us by parents, staff, and community members regarding COVID-19. After careful deliberation, the Board of Trustees voted tonight to dismiss school to students from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, 2020. Spring Break is scheduled the following week, March 30, through April 3, 2020. We know the cancellation of school and its associated activities is disappointing and extremely disruptive to our daily lives. However, we believe we must close our school sites for the health and well-being of our larger community.

Student Learning During Closure

During this time, the most vital aspects of our work are to support the social and emotional health of our students and provide opportunities for continued learning. The District’s Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) have developed an online learning platform for all Orinda teachers to use with their students. The goal of this platform is to provide high-quality educational experiences for students and help maintain a sense of normalcy. Each teacher is working with his/her grade level team or department to maintain connections with his/her students. You should expect to hear from your child’s school/teacher(s) about a specific academic plan by Monday, March 16th. If needed, Chromebooks are available for students to check out through our device lending form. Important information about how to access your student’s learning tools can be found HERE.   

Community Role in Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

This is a unique public health situation that is rapidly changing. Please plan to keep your child(ren) at home during this time. The decision to close schools is an attempt to slow the spread of this virus; it will only be effective if the community also takes steps to practice self-isolation, monitor for any symptoms, and avoid large gatherings.  We encourage all community members to do their part, or we will negate the positive public health effects of widespread school closures. 

Resources for Families

The following resources provide guidance regarding how to speak with your child(ren) about this current situation:

National Association of School Psychologists - Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Talking with Children About Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for Parents, School Staff, and Others Working With Children

Stanford Children’s Health - How to Talk with Kids About COVID-19

American Academic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Talking to Children About Coronavirus - COVID 19

American Academy of Pediatrics - How to Prepare for the Possibility of School or Childcare Closings

Next Steps

During our school closure and Spring Break, we will continue to monitor information about COVID-19 and make a determination about a reopening date prior to Friday, April 3. I will communicate any changes or updates to our District plan as they become available. Please visit the Orinda Union School District website at www.orindaschools.org/COVID19 for the most up to date information.  

We recognize that the impacts of this decision will be felt in numerous ways, and we have not taken these steps lightly. We thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools

 

 

March 13, 2020 Update

Orinda USD Schools Closed to Students from March 16-27, 2020

Important Announcement - COVID 19 School Closure

Dear Orinda USD Community,

We recognize that the past weeks have been challenging as we all navigate this unprecedented and dynamic global pandemic. We greatly appreciate the communication sent to us by parents, staff, and community members regarding COVID-19. After careful deliberation, the Board of Trustees voted tonight to dismiss school to students from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, 2020. Spring Break is scheduled the following week, March 30, through April 3, 2020. We know the cancellation of school and its associated activities is disappointing and extremely disruptive to our daily lives. However, we believe we must close our school sites for the health and well-being of our larger community.

 

Student Learning During Closure

During this time, the most vital aspects of our work are to support the social and emotional health of our students and provide opportunities for continued learning. The District’s Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) have developed an online learning platform for all Orinda teachers to use with their students. The goal of this platform is to provide high-quality educational experiences for students and help maintain a sense of normalcy. Each teacher is working with his/her grade level team or department to maintain connections with his/her students. You should expect to hear from your child’s school/teacher(s) about a specific academic plan by Monday, March 16th. If needed, Chromebooks are available for students to check out through our device lending form. Important information about how to access your student’s learning tools can be found HERE.   

 

Community Role in Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

This is a unique public health situation that is rapidly changing. Please plan to keep your child(ren) at home during this time. The decision to close schools is an attempt to slow the spread of this virus; it will only be effective if the community also takes steps to practice self-isolation, monitor for any symptoms, and avoid large gatherings.  We encourage all community members to do their part, or we will negate the positive public health effects of widespread school closures. 

 

Resources for Families

The following resources provide guidance regarding how to speak with your child(ren) about this current situation:

National Association of School Psychologists - Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Talking with Children About Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for Parents, School Staff, and Others Working With Children

Stanford Children’s Health - How to Talk with Kids About COVID-19

American Academic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Talking to Children About Coronavirus - COVID 19

American Academy of Pediatrics - How to Prepare for the Possibility of School or Childcare Closings

 

Next Steps

During our school closure and Spring Break, we will continue to monitor information about COVID-19 and make a determination about a reopening date prior to Friday, April 3. I will communicate any changes or updates to our District plan as they become available. Please visit the Orinda Union School District website at www.orindaschools.org/COVID19 for the most up to date information.  

We recognize that the impacts of this decision will be felt in numerous ways, and we have not taken these steps lightly. We thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools


 

Useful Links and Updates:
CDC - Coronavirus Disease 2019 - Center for Disease Control and Prevention resources

CDPH - Novel Coronavirus 2019 - California Department of Public Health resources

County Health Services - Coronavirus - Contra Costa County Health Services resources

Get Your Household Ready - Tips for you and your household

March 12, 2020 Update

Thank you for your patience as we work with our educational and public health partners to consider our options for responding to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The Orinda USD Board of Trustees has scheduled an Emergency Board Meeting for tomorrow, Friday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. at the District Office to discuss the possibility of closing our schools from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27, 2020. We plan to follow Contra Costa Health Services’ current public health recommendation of no more than 50 attendees in the meeting. We strongly encourage members of the public to email pertinent comments regarding potential school closures to me at cseaton@orindaschools.org. All emails received by 3 p.m. on Friday will be provided to the Board prior to the meeting. To support social distancing guidelines, we will not allow more than 50 people to be present in the meeting room at any one time. 

I will send a message to all Orinda USD community members promptly following the meeting with an update on the Board action taken regarding school closures.  We have also created a new section of our District website to be a repository for COVID-19 information, resources, and updates: www.orindaschools.org/COVID19.

Our teachers, staff, and administrators have been working tirelessly over the past few weeks to keep our students safe at school as well as prepare for a potential school closure. We are deeply grateful to the entire Orinda USD school community for their patience, flexibility, and willingness to work together during this unprecedented pandemic.

March 10, 2020 Update
Thank you for your support and suggestions as we all respond to the evolving news about the COVID-19 virus.  We want to update you on the actions we are taking in the Orinda Union School District in partnership with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS). 

Contra Costa Health Services - New Guidance
CCHS issued new guidance today which includes a recommendation to avoid gatherings of 50 or more people.  In compliance with this guidance and in collaboration with other area school districts, we are canceling the following school events with attendance that exceeds 50 people in one area:

  •  Field Trips
  • Assemblies
  • Science Fairs and Math Nights
  • Band and Choral Concerts
  • Plays and Musicals
  • Dances/Social Events
  • After School Sports

This restriction on events will remain in effect through March 27th, which leads into Spring Break for OUSD. We will reevaluate the viability of future events at that time based on the most up to date information from CCHS. Additionally, all principals are working on strategic and creative ways to manage large groups that regularly happen on school campuses such as recess, brunch, lunch, and before and after school clubs.

School Attendance
We respect that each family will make a decision about school attendance that is best for their circumstances. Students will not be required to get a physician’s note following an absence given the strain such a requirement would place on the health care system. 

Please understand that we are not approving independent study agreements for students staying home as a precaution for COVID-19 as requests of this nature are untenable for our staff at this time. 

While we hope not to initiate school closures due to COVID-19, we are actively developing plans for such a scenario that include leveraging technology to provide academic and social/emotional support for our students.  We will continue to keep all stakeholders updated as CCHS issues new information. Closing a school or the entire District is a serious and impactful decision that would only be made in consultation with CCHS.

Precautions
We are reminding students to take the following precautions at school, and we recommend that you follow these same protocols at home. (See bottom paragraph in the infographic below):

COVID-19 Precautions

Additional Measures
We are taking advantage of the non-student day on Friday to allow our custodial staff to perform a thorough cleaning of classroom desks and other surfaces, along with bathrooms, multi-use rooms, and other areas with heavy student traffic.

Communication and Partnership
This is a dynamic situation, and we are committed to providing you with up-to-date, relevant, and accurate information.  In collaboration with our partner districts, we are monitoring the situation and closely following updates and guidelines from local, state, and national health officials. You are encouraged to monitor the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and Contra Costa Health Services to learn the most accurate information about COVID-19.

We will continue to work in collaboration with CCHS and take seriously our responsibility to keep students safe. Our strength and support for one another will get us through these daunting circumstances.

 

February 26, 2020 Update
Orinda USD is committed to the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We are monitoring data and information regarding the novel coronavirus closely. Coronavirus is a type of virus that causes diseases of varying severities ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been identified before in humans.

Orinda USD receives frequent updates from the California Department of Education, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), and Contra Costa Health Services regarding COVID-19. To date, there are no confirmed cases involving a COVID-19 infection that occurred within our county. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the immediate health risk from COVID-19 for the general American public remains low, but schools can take common-sense precautions to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases. These precautions will be helpful to prevent COVID-19 and the spread of other common illnesses such as influenza and gastroenteritis:

  • People who are sick should stay home from work or school until they are well (fever-free for at least 24 hours).
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • People who are sick should always cover their coughs and sneezes using a tissue or the crook of their elbow; wash your hands after using a tissue to wipe your nose or mouth.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your unwashed hands.

Contra Costa residents should contact their healthcare providers if they have symptoms and had close contact with someone with symptoms who traveled to China in the last 14 days. All travelers to the U.S. from China since February 2 have been asked to self-quarantine under the guidance of their local public health department for 14 days.

Please be assured that I will keep you apprised of updates regarding COVID-19 that pertain to our Orinda USD schools. To learn more about COVID-19, peruse the infographic and linked information below. Thank you for your support and partnership in keeping Orinda USD students and staff safe and protected. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me or our District nurses, Glory Lane, RN, and Leonard Kaku, RN, at (925) 258-6219 or via email at glane@orindaschools.org and lkaku@orindaschools.org.

Due to the shelter in place order, we are no longer accepting device requests.