Dear Families and Staff,
Gratitude: Happy Friday! I hope this communication finds everyone safe and sound as we head into the weekend. I want to start by thanking all staff for your hard work and dedication to students. Your efforts are greatly valued and appreciated. Public education plays a central role in society and your dedication to our students is so deeply meaningful and important. We also know the success of this effort is rooted in a strong partnership with our families. I want to acknowledge all of our families for partnering with us, for your thoughtful input, participation, patience and shared value in providing the best educational experience possible for our students. Thank you all!
Milestones and Covid-19: I have reflected a great deal of late on the idea of milestones in relation to how the school year is progressing. First and foremost, we are back to full-time, in-person instruction. That is a big deal and we must not lose sight of this achievement as we continue to navigate the impact of Covid-19. I am very happy to note that our mitigation strategies are working. To date, we have 43 reported cases. This represents less than 1% of our total student population. We do not take this lightly and again view it as evidence that our mitigation strategies are having a positive effect. We are also very fortunate to note that cases are not contracted or being spread at school sites.
To support early detection and reduce spread of the virus, we added our own testing services each Friday for students and staff. To date, we have administered over 1,000 tests with just two cases being reported positive. This is another important milestone for us. We will all need to continue our ongoing vigilance so we can stay on this path of keeping everyone healthy and our students and staff in school.
As a reminder, the CDPH is requiring all staff in TK-12 schools to be vaccinated by October 15 or to test once a week. The CDPH has not yet provided guidance regarding vaccinations for all students. I will continue to keep everyone updated.
Air Quality Response: In my neighborhood, the gathering of turkeys, or a Rafter of Turkeys, if you like collective nouns, signals the welcoming of autumn. My favorite time of year! We are indeed fortunate to enjoy a Mediterranean climate, that said, we have also had many stretches of very hot days and the threat of fires. With the cooler weather on its way, we can hopefully look forward to clear air and maybe much needed rain. We also know that nature is full of surprises and we want to be prepared. Linked here: https://beniciaunified.org/f/air-quality-monitoring/ for you is BUSD’s plan should we be challenged with bad air days anytime during the course of the year.
Equity and Opportunity: We are continuing to make progress around our ongoing work with equity and opportunity. The focus of this work is rooted in building community, it is intended to be inclusive, forward looking and optimistic. During the Board meeting of September 2nd, we provided a thorough update, clarifying our guideposts, most notably the State Content Standards, a list of work completed to date and our path going forward: BUSD Equity Update. We are excited about this work as it clearly supports the ideals outlined in BUSD’s Vision, Beliefs and Desired Characteristics of a Benicia Graduate statement that is linked here: https://beniciaunified.org/our-district/vision-statement/
Suicide Prevention Month: September is suicide prevention month. We provide social and emotional support services to our students throughout the year and also place an emphasis on this important topic during the month of September. The following link will take you to a list of Suicide Prevention Resources. I would also like to acknowledge our ongoing partnerships with the Kyle Hyland Foundation who is also focused on providing social and emotional support systems for students. Supporting our students is a community effort. Their website link can be found here: Kyle Hyland Foundation
3rd Grade Reading Goal: I was pleased to note the State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond is making 3rd grade reading proficiency a focus. Highlights from his recent communication in EdSource include:
Research shows that students who aren’t reading at grade level by the third grade will struggle to catch up throughout their education career.
Research also shows that students who struggle with reading in the third grade can also be at greater risk of dropping out of school and end up in the criminal justice system.
This is a strategy about helping children learn to read, but also about putting them on a path that can create success.
We continue to make reading a key goal, focusing instruction on language development and providing support systems for students in need. Reading development is also closely linked to the home environment. As often as possible, read to your children, have them read to you and tell you what they are reading. Share what you are reading. Having a wide variety of print material around the home is very impactful as it emphasises the importance of reading. Trips to the library and bookstore can be fun and exciting and again, emphasise the importance of reading and the lifelong long benefits of being a proficient reader. Prior to the pandemic we launched a partnership with the City of Benicia, called Benicia Reads. Our staff is working on relaunching this city wide reading campaign in the near future. More information about this campaign can be found at this link: https://beniciaunified.org/f/benicia-reads/.
Have a great weekend everyone.
On we go!
Charles F. Young, Ed.D.