Yesterday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sent a letter to county superintendents that included the following:
I’m writing to you regarding the current status of schools in California. As you know we continue to deal with the impacts of the coronavirus and how those impacts make it unsafe for our students to be served on school campuses at this time. The need for safety through social distancing warrants that we continue to keep our school campuses closed to students during this pandemic.
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.
We acknowledge that students only being able to be served through distance learning creates hardships for some students, families, and educators. However, we are urging a safety first approach out of an abundance of caution. As such, we urge that all school districts in California move towards and/or continue to strengthen their distance learning programs and opportunities for students. We believe this sustains the safety of our students and families, provides consistency across schools in the state, and provides our districts and educators with clarity and the ability to plan for delivering education for the rest of this school year through a distance learning model.
This news did not come as a complete shock, and seemed to concur with some of the Governor's previous statements on this issue. Today, Governor Newsom made his strongest statement to date on the subject. He made it clear that, according to health experts, social distancing would be required of all Californians for months to come, and that this should include closing all school buildings. Governor Newsom, like State Superintendent Thurmond, acknowledged the hardship this presents to parents, but stated that it was important to put the safety and health of all citizens first.
Upon receiving this news, and after conferring with colleagues, it is my duty to officially announce that MUS will be closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
This means that all field trips and excursions are also cancelled for the school year (such as WOLF Camp, the Colonial Trip, and chorus trips). We are working with our providers in these areas to recoup as much of the payments as possible, and will be in touch with the affected grade levels when we have solid news in this regard. I will be working with MUS Staff Members and parent leaders on 6th grade graduation to determine how best to mark this important transition.
There are other details we need to work out as well. Kids have possessions in their desks, money in their lunch accounts, and technology devices that eventually need to be returned. In the coming days and weeks we will get you answers and plans for all of these issues and more.
I'm the proud father of three. I am saddened that they can't attend classes in person this school year, won't be able to spend time with their friends, and can't participate in school events. As MUS superintendent, I regret that the classrooms and hallways of MUS won't be filled with students for the rest of the school year, and that the teachers and other MUS staff members won't be able to see your children five days a week.
That said, I also know how hard all our teachers and parents are working to create the best possible educational, social, and emotional outcomes for our students and children. We're all doing important work together, and our endeavors are absolutely essential. MUS is not, after all, a collection of buildings, but a collection of people united in a common mission: To launch inspired thinkers who positively impact the world. We can do this, team!
In a separate email, I will debrief the successful launch of MUSatHome 2.0, and send some tips for an even better Day 2. Expect that email later today, but I wanted to send this news out to you right away as you have likely followed the Governor's remarks as closely as I have.
As our school song says, "Heart to heart, hand in hand/ Here we are, Mustangs Standing tall!"