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June 4 Message from President J.D. Childs

Dear Dragon Families,

This week, we held year-end faculty and staff meetings, laying groundwork together for a successful start to school in August. I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the unprecedented context of racial violence and protests in which these meetings took place. I was heartened by the conversations we took time for and the authenticity with which everyone shared their experience and resolve during this time. We know there is much more work to be done.

The same spirit of partnership and mutual respect that characterizes our work with students was also present this week as we met. We recognize the need to not only meet the moment, but also to turn our attention to our students’ needs in the months ahead, including the start of school in August.

This week our educators carefully reviewed the data gleaned from students, parents, and faculty about our collective experiences this Spring in remote learning. As a community, we committed to spending more time reflecting, collaborating, learning, and planning this summer to create the conditions for our return to school that will best set up our students for success in their learning and development, no matter what we face together.

As we receive more definitive public health guidance from CDC and Alameda County public health authorities to know what form Fall will take, we are focused on and committed to the following:

  1. The health, safety, and well-being of our students and employees will drive all decision-making about returning to campus, about our modality for school in the Fall, and about necessary health policies and protocols for students, personnel, equipment, and facilities. Whatever plan we land on has to allow educators to maintain their energy and focus and has to be student-centered – keeping their development and social needs top of mind in our planning and professional learning this summer.

  2. We want our plan to provide for ease of transition to full campus return, as well as the ability to shift between on-campus and remote learning as seamlessly as possible. We not only hope for but are anticipating a return to campus at some point. We won’t force it when it’s too challenging or dangerous to return. We are increasingly aware that some degree of remote instruction at points this Fall are likely. But we are also committed to finding opportunities to safely bring students to campus, perhaps for optional activities, whenever and wherever we can.

  3. We are committed to preparation and improvement, augmenting our strengths and enhancing our program’s quality, based on our experience this Spring. Recent surveys of parents, students, and teachers as well as focus groups on remote learning have helped us understand our strengths and gaps, informing our approach to professional learning and decision-making this Summer.

  4. Given the many traumas our world, region, and school have faced over the last months, weeks, and days, we know we will need a special emphasis on curriculum, instruction, and programming that attends to our students’ need for social-emotional support, connection, and engagement. We will continue to strengthen work we have already been immersed in that is specifically and intentionally focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion at O’Dowd. A key priority will be ensuring the emotional safety of all students and providing spaces for them to process and reflect.

We also want to assure all of you that we’ll be ready to open school on time in August and will share more in the weeks ahead about how we will “do school.” In the meanwhile, our planning and preparation will be rooted in wise, responsive planning based on what we know and learn.

We have formed an extra-operational COVID-19 Response Task Force composed of educators and administrators to facilitate learning, planning, collaboration, and decision-making in four major areas according to various scenarios. This summer’s planning and professional learning will involve all faculty and staff and will be inclusive of academic, co-curricular, and institutional reflection and planning in the following areas:

  1. Modality, schedule, standards, calendar, attendance, and assessment, among other topics

  2. Academic and co-curricular engagement of/for our students, by our teachers, staff, and coaches

  3. Safety and logistics, including students, personnel, and campus facilities

  4. Communications

Given the possibility that remote learning will be necessary at times this Fall, Principal Chris Smart has initiated an Academic and Co-Curricular Steering Committee that will create responsive professional development opportunities to strengthen both the academic experience and direct student engagement and social-emotional connection this Fall, whether on campus or remote.

Our O’Dowd community is resilient and deeply committed to educating our diverse group of young people to build a more just, joyful and sustainable world. We know O’Dowd is a force for good in our region and in the world because of how we meet the educational and formative needs of our students. Our students’ joy, shaped by purpose, is our passion.

We will communicate again in late June to update you about our progress and decisions regarding Fall.

Peace and all good,

J. D. Childs President


Parents – We seek your input! Parent Education Interests Survey for 2020-2021. See the email version of this message that was sent to you for survey link.


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