The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced change. Every conversation I have has an asterisk and some exclamation points at the beginning, middle and the end. On the micro level, we have changed lifestyle habits, methods of communication and ways of work. On the macro level, we have changed systems of supply chain distribution, healthcare, and currency. The future of education is both exciting and to be defined.
For the law enforcement officers who have intentionally and selectively chosen ill-will over goodwill, and also choose whom they want to protect and serve, the guilty on all counts verdict was not an eye opener. It was a warning that there are more people paying attention and willing to seek justice. Has the Peace Builders pledge taken root in Generation X and inspired Generation Z to express their hopes for a civilized planet? Is this really the historic moment in America so many Africans, Immigrants, Refugees and Indigenous people of color died for? Cried for?
History tells me no. Justice is what "Just" "Is". But on the other hand.... my optimism and hope tell me "something is changing" and a culturally reflective education can be a vaccine to the viruses of hate and intolerance. Here are two of my favorite examples:
At the White House
At the Milpitas End the Silence Stop Asian Violence Rally
In my last blog post, I said "There Was No Loss Of Learning or Leading". The verdict in the George Floyd trial was a reflection all 3; loss, learning and leading. Is this really the historic moment? We make history everyday, and it shows in our families and their children. We are MUSD!
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been receiving 5-10 newspaper articles a day from across the country, 3-5 direct calls from other school board trustees, 5+ social media DMs per week from parents and community members. I also participate in 5 Zoom calls across the region and state regarding what's happening now and what happens next at the legislative level. All I can think about is the Milpitas Unified School District team members, parents and students, and community.
As we enter into the season of Spring, it symbolically represents new beginnings and new opportunities of hope. It also represents a new allergy season.
In the upcoming weeks our MUSD campuses will be much more active. There will be admin staff in offices, as well as custodians, Student Nutrition Services, and Maintenance Operations & Transportation team members on sites. Teachers and students will once again utilize classrooms in new ways, and some will continue to teach and learn within MUSD EducatEveryWhere from a distance.
To ensure we have the safest environments possible, for those coming to campus at any time, there will be a daily online health status check-in requirement. We will see adults and children wearing masks and/or face shields, and following predefined pathways across school grounds and campuses. We will see much smaller classroom sizes, designated bathrooms, cleaning schedules, and other safety precautions per County Public Health guidelines across the district. We will see some uniformity and creativity in schedules and models at our elementary and secondary schools — including Milpitas Adult Education with our CDC preschool leading the way as it has since June 2020. There will be inconveniences, sacrifices, struggles and new challenges to overcome. WE are MUSD!
As I reflect on the past year, there was no loss of learning or leading. There were rapid iterations. There was, and continues to be, digital information overload. There was, and continues to be, the highest levels of teacher collaboration, parent engagement and instructional innovation. There was loss of face to face interactions. It's hard to see facial expressions behind masks. There was loss of life, income and property.
Regardless of how our MUSD students are assessed at the end of the year, there was no loss of learning or leading. MUSD students taught each other how to better use technology, troubleshoot home internet and helped their caregivers become digitally literate. MUSD students had to learn to listen and interact with instructors and peers in a new way, very similar to how many in the Bay Area work on a daily basis now and forever more. What was truly learned will be measured in the years ahead.
COVID-19 will not define MUSD. What we have done and will do for years to come will be the foundation of that definition.
Spring is upon us, allergies and all....
On March 13, 2020, Governor Newsom announced the Shelter-In-Place order for the state of California. In the months preceding the governor's announcement, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan organized district leaders, including myself and Vice President Hon Lien; Assistant Superintendents Norma Rodriguez, Wendy Zhang and Jonathon Brunson; Director of Tech Services Chin Song; and Association Presidents Diana Orlando (MTA) and Machelle Kessinger (CSEA) to discuss a variety of hypothetical pre-planning situations based on information being received from international family members, community leaders, Stanford research and district thought partners.
What if the Coronavirus (COVID-19) made it to the states? What would it take to ensure learning continuity? How do we pivot from in-person to online? How do we effectively engage MUSD leaders, teachers, administrators, student nutrition? How do we inform parents and students effectively? How much would it cost? These questions and others were quickly answered in the months to come as the Board approved the creation of the Distance Learning Plan, entitled “MUSD EducatEveryWhere, the budget for additional technology,” and more.
Director Song and his Tech Services Team were truly unsung heroes. They did an amazing job of training, equipping staff and students with the technology needed to move from in-person to online. They set up drive-through laptop pickup stations at the district office. For those caregivers and students who didn’t have transportation, our principals, secretaries and administrators brought laptops to MUSD schools and homes. Yes, there were bumps in the road but these paled in comparison to the quality of effort to ensure learning continuity for MUSD students. During the first 3 days, our Tech Services Team distributed more than 1,500 Chromebooks!
In the midst of the technology rollout, Assistant Superintendent Rodriquez, along with Tech Services and a cadre of teachers, did an amazing job locating our own shining stars to lead our own professional development. I saw teachers collaborating with each other like never before. I know it wasn't easy but it was (and still is) awesome! I watched office administrators teaching parents how to log into Chromebooks for the first time ever. I witnessed siblings and friends teaching each other how to use Google Classroom.
While MUSD played its part in learning continuity, the Milpitas community responded in kind. We were getting information from parents who had family in China and other parts of the world. We received several large financial donations, deliveries of PPE, thermometers, hand sanitizer, and food security volunteerism led by Director Sandy Huynh and team. Board members Hon Lien and Kelly Yip Chuan partnered with several community organizations, friends and volunteers to make and distribute thousands of masks to parents and students. Board members Michael Tsai and Minh Ngo both volunteered to distribute food, masks and other PPE supplies around the town. Teamwork makes the dream work!
MUSD EducatEveryWhere v.1.0 began as a one-stop shop for coronavirus information, resources to teachers, and new roles and responsibilities for team members. MUSD EducatEveryWhere 2.0 now includes resources for parents of students receiving special education services, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) ideas, how-to videos, and numerous lesson plans developed by MUSD teachers and others to support distance learning
The MUSD leadership team continues to find ways to strike a balance between human safety, supporting our students online effectively, and when possible, bringing our students in most need to one of several onsite campus locations across the district for in person learning support. We are ramping up our staff testing and researching vaccination site possibilities through multiple avenues. MUSD EducatEverWhere v. 3.0 is on the horizon…….
To learn more about MUSD EducatEveryWhere visit:
To learn more about MUSD COVID-19 testing and planning visit:
More to come.....