The Birney Buzz 08/21/2021

The Birney Buzz 08/21/2021
Posted on 08/22/2021
Birney Bee

Greetings to the Birney community!

Grab an iced tea, find a comfy spot - there's a lot to read in the Buzz, but it is stuff you want to know for the opening of school.  Come back to it, if you prefer, when you have time - but this is how you will get school news from me, so whatever your routine is, make it happen and enjoy!  If there is something you want but don't see here, simply reply to this email. 

I received an informative newsletter from San Diego Unified about the opening of school, I am linking it here for you in case you didn't get it;  I believe you have to sign up for more newsletters like it. The newsletter dives deep into the ways we have created safe environments here at school: "Our schools have implemented a robust assortment of safety measures to protect students, staff, and families, including a massive investment in air filtration and other equipment. In fact, San Diego Unified has installed MERV-8 and MERV-13 filters at 195 locations across the district - more than 7,250 filters in all - to upgrade filtration in classrooms and offices. Additional recommendations from a scientific panel of nationally recognized experts, which include disinfecting procedures, improved ventilation, and indoor mask requirements, have been implemented as well".  The newsletter also contains the list of schools which are opening their doors to 4-year-olds in the TK expansion, unfortunately Birney is not one of them, but hopefull we will get selected next year.  

The superintendent and his team will also be hosting a special School Safety meeting for families this coming Monday, August 23, at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom, and all are invited to attend. This virtual town hall meeting will provide families a chance to bring up any questions or concerns about returning to school, and will also include district staff and medical professionals to share more details about the safety measures and procedures mentioned above. I hope to see you there! 
Go to Zoom - Monday, August 23 - 5:30 p.m. I will see you there.

Additional sources of information for the latest recommendations for school are: Safe Schools for All, the SDUSD COVID UPDATES website, and the SDUSD Illness and Injury Prevention Plan (the COVID addendum starts on page 28). There is a lot to read - and some of it was prepared in May/June when we all thought it would be a little easier to return in the fall.  But the Delta variant and the low vaccination rates have certainly changed the outlook for fall, so in a nutshell, Birney staff has been advised to remain cautious and implement most of what we were doing from April-June when we reopened for Phase 2.  We will continue to distance as much as we can, but a minimum of 3 feet.  We will continue to mask, wash hands, santiize before and after sharing equipment and materials, and our llittle bees painted six feet apart on the playground will continue to serve as a visual reminder to put some space between you and your neighbor.   

Next week teachers officially return to work for prep days on Wednesday, August 25.  You can believe, however, that they have already come back thinking how best to teach in the current environment, and how to arrange their rooms.  I will be communicating more with you about orientations and the substitute for the "Big Reveal" event we usually hold in-person on the Friday before school starts after I confer with my teams. 

What I do know is that I will still post the class rosters in the office window for you to stop by anytime after Friday at 5 pm to take a picture of the roster and share it with your child to see who is in their class, who their teacher is and what their room number is.  I do ask that you maintain physical distance and remain masked when you visit the school at all times, for our kids' safety.  It is especially important at drop off and pick up, be mindful of the messages we are giving our students when we do not abide by the safety measures we are putting in place for their safety.  I also ask that you drive super-safely when you are driving by the school.

School will reopen on Monday, August 30; the gates open at 8:45 for students with ample staff available to guide your little one to where they need to be.  Unfortunately, one of the safety measures continuing from last year is not allowing others on site - I understand this will be hard on some of the students coming to school for the first time and I encourage you to reassure your student(s) that you will watch from outside and you trust the school staff to help them find their classroom.  Once students are in the classroom, the teachers will greet them and show them the routine for Tuesday. Teachers will show them where to line up, where to use the bathroom, where to refill their water bottle, and so much more.  On Tuesday, the students will know where to go when they enter school. We LOVE it when you post your first-day-of-school pictures on our Facebook and Instagram pages.  Since we installed the mosaic in 2009, that has been a great place to snap the yearly picture to measure how they grow.  I will be outside school on Campus Ave in the morning and afternoon to answer last minute questions, but I am still building the Birney FAQ page so keep those questions coming over the week and I will add the answers (we got a little busy enrolling kids at the end of the week so I haven't added any questions I got since 8/18, but I will get to it).  .  

Regular school hours are 9:10-3:35, except for Wednesdays when we dismiss at 1:30. The first week, the kindergarten team and I determined that we would dismiss kindergarteners at 1:30 to reduce the stress of starting school in a pandemic.  We know how hard it can be for our 4 and 5 years olds to keep it together for a full day even when they do not have to stay masked, distanced and all the other things they will learn the first week of school.  They have to learn how to sit, walk, eat, play and speak in a classroom community of over 20 students.  They will be tired by 1:30 - so I encourage you to pick up your kindergarten student at 1:30 the first week and let them de-stress at home.  It's only 5 days, so if there is a grandparent, a neighbor, a daycare provider, a friend who can pick them up and hear all about their day it would be great.  We will have minimal access to childcare for those of you who still need it until 3:30, unless students are already accepted into the PrimeTime or SAYSanDiego before/After School programs.  

We will continue our practice from spring of having several access gates open so we can minimize crowding.  The Birney campus is expansive, but I normally try to minimize the number of open gates due to lack of supervision, and I like to make sure each access point is supervised.  Thanks to the additional support we are getting from the district, I can provide supervision at several gates.  For families with more than one child, I ask that you drop your children off at the gate for the YOUNGEST sibling, so the older one(s) can make sure the younger one(s) get safely to where they need to go.  The same can be done for afternoon pick-up.  Here are the gates and grade levels or rooms that correspond:

Kindergarten: Campus Avenue small gate onto kindergarten playground, drop-off and pick-up

First and Second Grade: Campus Avenue main gate by office, drop-off.  Pick up for 1st grade will be through the main gate, fot 2nd grade will be through the side gate in the Ed Center driveway.

Third Grade and Room 214 (4th grade): Joint-Use Field gate in the Ed Center driveway

Fourth and Fifth Grades in 2-story building: Meade Avenue. side gate by Birney Library (it is called the 'kindergarten gate' because it was, before the pandemic)

Once inside the school grounds, after the first day, students will line up on their classroom lines, spaced 6 feet apart.  They wil be picked up by their  teacher after 9 to be safely in their seats by 9:15.  In the classroom, we will remain masked and distanced to the best of our abilities.  We will build in regular wellness breaks where students can relax, chat, snack outside taking a mask break, observing guidelines as usual.  Lunch will be spaced across campus so we can maintain distance, even on rainy days the majority of our lunch tables are sheltered so we will still be able to eat outside (unless it is a storm, obviously).  I do encourage you to be fully aware of the weather every day because your child will spend a lot of time outside. Birney teachers were masterful at creating classrooms that observed all the safety guidelines but also set students at ease - we will concentrate on creating beautiful classroom communities the first couple of weeks at school, where our students feel nurtured, respected and valued for their contributions.  

I can't wait to be able to open our doors again so you can appreciate the magic that is our school.  For now, however, you will have to enjoy it virtually, through the magic of Zoom!  You will get a zoom invite for Orientation and another for our first Family Friday mid-week-ish.  In the meantime, this has been plenty for you, you must be done with that iced tea by now! 

Forgive the missed typos, take care,

Ms. Amanda

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