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March 24, 2020 2:00p.m. – Weekly Family Update from Principal Christopher Smart, Ed.D

Dear Students and Families,

Welcome to Week 2, Day 7 of Remote Learning. I have been very impressed by how the O’Dowd community leaned in to prepare for remote learning and successfully launch our first week last week. I’m also pleased to share that we have received a great deal of positive feedback from parents, students, and teachers.

Looking Ahead to 2020-2021 and the Class of 2024 We want to remind all families that re-enrollment contracts for the 2020-2021 school year are due this Thursday, March 26. If your family is not planning to re-enroll, please email Re-enrollment can be completed online via each student’s admissions portal using the instructions sent via email to families by our admissions team. Start re-enrollment process for 2020-2021.

On a related note, I am delighted to share that we sent offers of admission this past Friday to prospective families, including record numbers of sibling families, and have enjoyed an enthusiastic response from all, with our Class of 2024 nearly full as of today. We look forward to sharing more about them with our community in the coming days.

Continued Remote Learning and Support We want to be attentive to students’ workloads and time on screens during this period. To properly assess our students’ needs and workloads, we sent a survey to all students this past Friday. We plan to analyze the survey results early this week and use our findings to help teachers and students balance their time and work equitably within this new way of learning.

I have been particularly impressed by our teachers’ and students’ resilience and digital fluidity. Teachers are using various online tools to conduct remote learning including: Khan Academy, YouTube, Zoom with whiteboard tool, and Screencastomatic and Screencastify for direct instruction; Schoology, Kahoot, and EdPuzzle for demonstrating learning; Google Meet, Zoom, and Discord for discussions/Q&A. We remind students who are struggling with tech issues that they can send an email to for remote help.

Please remember to refer to our Remote Learning guides for questions you may have:

  1. Remote Learning Student Expectations

  2. Remote Learning Resources for Parents and Guardians

  3. Student Support Guide: Counseling (Academic, Personal, College) and Services (Academic Support, Health and Wellness, Library)

Co-Curricular Life During this time away from one another, we are very aware of how much our lives together beyond the classroom forms our community. Mass, debate, athletics, music, drama, clubs–all have been impacted. We encourage those engaged in these areas of student life to maintain virtual connection with one another, and we encourage our students to continue taking time for morning prayer that is shared online by Campus Ministry leaders each morning.

We are pleased to share that our Associated Student Body is meeting virtually and that some clubs have connected online as well. The Solidarity in Action (SIA) student group, through their Kiva account, is helping small businesses around the nation and world that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Drama students continue to balance school work with rehearsing at home and reviewing videos of past productions of the show in hopes of a performance when the time is right. Music students are taking time to study theory as well as watch and respond to instructional, historical videos to continue their learning.

Community of Care As we enter into this week, we as a school are mindful that our charism value community in diversity calls us to deepen our empathy for the differences we hold, understanding fully that each of us faces very different challenges in this crisis. Checking in with and propping up each other, and reaching out for needed support are vital ways to ensure students’ needs are being met.

Viruses Don’t Discriminate News stories and other sources have created false narratives about who is responsible for COVID-19 and how it spreads. We are offering this helpful infographic as a resource to remind us all that “viruses don’t discriminate, and neither should we.”

How You Can Help Some families have inquired about how they can help during this time. To that end, we are sharing this Mercury News article about regional organizations (food banks, blood banks, and other essential services and resources) that is filled with information for those interested.

Food Security We also want to assure any family or student concerned about food security during this time that they have access to nutritious meals through a variety of sources depending on where they live.

  1. Free breakfast and lunch for students – Oakland and Berkeley

  2. Free breakfast and lunch for students – San Leandro

  3. Families who need food today – Alameda County Food Bank

Thank you for the many ways you have reached out to us with your kind words, supportive spirit, and flexibility as we work together through this time to support continued learning and care for our community.

If you wish to keep up to date on these communications, event cancellations and postponements, and all COVID-19 related information, please visit our COVID-19 webpage.

With wishes for the health and well-being of your family, Chris Smart, Ed.D. Principal

Weekly Highlights

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-35952 size-medium lazyload" src="" alt="" width="298" height="300" srcset=" 298w, 150w, 768w, 1017w, 45w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 298px) 100vw, 298px" />In Sarah Tunik’s English class, students are reading and having online Socratic dialogue about Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. While listening and responding in class, students are also in a chat room called #socializing on her server, giving them space for less formal conversations about the book and bringing them together as a class community.

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-35953 size-medium lazyload" src="" alt="" width="300" height="279" srcset=" 300w, 768w, 1024w, 1184w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Life! O’Dowd’s “Chicken Tenders” group just welcomed twelve newborn Dragon chicks. Skye Dodge ’20 shared this image to offer a “semblance of hope and happiness” amid the crisis.

<img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-35954 lazyload" src="" alt="" width="300" height="300" srcset=" 300w, 150w, 768w, 1024w, 45w, 1124w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Watch Father Jim’s first video reflection for our community on our new reality and what opportunities there may be for us during this time of quiet. Watch now.

For more regular updates during this time and always, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

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