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June 5 Closure Update: Last Day of School of an Unprecedented Year
June 5, 2020
Dear WCCUSD Families,
Today is the last day of school and in most years, I could simply talk about graduations and the wonderful celebrations taking place. This year is different. The COVID-19 pandemic altered education, health care and communities and abruptly ended the physical school year three months early. Then, the tragic and brutal murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor tragically illustrated the institutional racism and inequities people of color, in particular African Americans, face in our society.
In my message to the District team last week, I said this was “one of the strangest and most eventful school years in the history of formal education in this country.” I also wrote that I was “proud of the way we have responded to fill the needs of students and families.” After witnessing this community’s response to George Floyd’s killing, I am even more proud of the efforts made by teachers, staff and community leaders to give students a space for their grief and anger.
Students have helped organize and lead actions in Pinole and Richmond, teachers have offered lessons on civil rights and civil disobedience while opening safe virtual spaces for the voices of young people, and community organizations have been there to guide and protect the youth during the protests.
While I am proud of the steps that have been taken, I know that our efforts are not enough.We must continue to work to ensure that schools are safe havens for young people and a place where they can make sense of these horrible acts. We must find ways to connect with students who will need to find space to talk, express, and make sense of the world. I can’t promise any solutions, but I will keep working to improve the situation for Black and Brown students in this District. And I know that together, we can make that possible.
During all of this, high schools throughout the district have continued to celebrate the Class of 2020. WCCUSD’s seniors have had their final year co-opted by COVID-19 and their graduations linked to the brutality of police violence. These catastrophic events will leave a permanent impact on the lives of these students. And, through it all the teams at each of WCCUSD’s high schools have worked together to create special drive thru ceremonies for each senior.
I encourage everyone to take a moment to send a celebratory note or a message of hope and acknowledgement to the seniors in this community.
I also want to send a sincere and loud thank you to families and students for staying resilient and amplifying and using their voice to push for change here in WCCUSD and beyond. Families transitioned through Distance Learning, dealt with smoke from the devastating wildfires, and helped navigate through painful budget reductions. So, thank you for staying with us, pushing us and helping us do better for students.
As we transition to summer, we are going to need your continued input, patience and support as we figure out what next year will look like. We don’t know what the school year will hold or how classes will be conducted. Will it be in person? Distance Learning? Or a combination of both? We are currently forming task forces and conducting surveys to assist us in planning next year. We have partnered with Youth Truth to conduct a series of surveys about education during the COVID-19 pandemic and what is and is not working with Distance Learning. A student survey for grades 5th through 12th was launched this week and available through June 19. We will also be launching a similar survey for families in the next week.
In closing out the 2019-2020 year, I want to remind students and families that there are still resources available to support you. The Food Services team will continue serving breakfast and lunch to any and all children 18 and under. During the summer months, meals will be distributed Monday - Thursday at 22 locations throughout the community.
While summer is traditionally a time many young people and families “check out” of school, I encourage you to take advantage of the academic resources being compiled by District educators to help students prepare for the next school year. These resources will be made available by June 15.
Also, if you or someone you know needs other support, please refer them to the District website at www.wccusd.net/districtclosure.
Finally, thank you for your support over the past year. We will reduce the number of communications over the summer, but will make sure to reach out with important news and information.
Have a great summer!