The Birney Buzz 10/27/2021

The Birney Buzz 10/27/2021
Posted on 10/27/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

This parent newsletter is lengthy – but I do ask that you read on since I am addressing health and safety issues that have been coming up at school and I want you to be aware. Here is the latest student/parent version of the Birney Buzz which should be coming home today in backpacks. Kids are excited about wearing their costume to school Friday (and so are we, we think), just a reminder to keep it appropriate for elementary, don't scare the little ones with nasty stuff, and keep it easy to get through a school day which might be a warm one.


PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES WILL BE VIRTUAL THIS FALL: I can’t believe we are in the 9th week of the school year – our first reporting period will end on November 5th (next week, week #10) and we will be scheduling our first round of Parent-Teacher Conferences – on Zoom of course – for the week of November 15th, or week #12. I encourage you to make sure you have your date and time set up with your child(ren)’s teacher(s) – this will probably be the first time you are able to meet with the teacher without a mask! They will be reaching out to make those apppointments with you, and as always we aim for 100% contact between parents and teachers. 


PARENT ORGANIZATION MEETING THURSDAY AT 6 PM ON ZOOM: Time: Oct 28, 2021 06:00 PM - Join Zoom Meeting - Meeting ID: 834 1013 7000 Passcode: 835600 - CHECK IT OUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS COMING UP IN OUR COMMUNITY - WE ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO HELP WITH SOME REALLY FUN STUFF! Thanks to Ms. Isabel Rodriguez, Sofia, Andres and Lilly's mom, for her amazing help with the fall fundraiser - we surpassed our goal and made $24,000 to fund our IB program Specials and stuff.  


HEALTH AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS CONTINUE THROUGH WINTER BREAK: I sure hope the New Year brings some relief from this pandemic.  I look forward to opening our gates to parents again and welcoming you on campus! This  November, however, is too early to make such decisions since we do not know how the pandemic and the flu are going to affect our region.  At Birney, I plan to maintain all health and safety precautions – including not allowing non-essential visitors on campus - as the flu season encroaches and more and more kids are getting sent home with symptoms. I urge parents to help us keep all our families safe even though we understand that following our safety protocols is difficult for you at home too.  We understand that you have to work, so sending your child to school is part of the daily routine.  I am going to ask, however, that if your child wakes up feeling achy, sore or their head hurts – PLEASE keep them home, and make sure to bring a negative PCR test with you when you return


SOCIALEMOTIONAL NEEDS MORE PRONOUNCED AT SCHOOL THAN USUAL: It has been an interesting year for all of us so far.  We have observed that as a community if students, we have missed some developmental learning by remaining at home.  It is not academic learning, necessarily, although this is sometimes tragically the case; indeed, many of our students thrived academically at home.  No, instead I would call it social, collective learning about how to get along with each other, share the spaces, function in a community of learners and even advocate for themselves with a professional teacher as facilitator and guide.  We realize that the last time our fifth graders had a ‘whole’ school year, they were in 3rd grade and – believe it or not – sometimes it seems we are picking right up where we left off 2 years ago.  This has been disconcerting, because it is new to us.


Your role in this, as parents, would be to ask questions about how they are getting along with their classmates and teachers, listening with a keen ear for frustrations or needs and helping your children understand how to survive and thrive in their community. We have noticed that our students are re-learning how to speak to the teacher and to each other; they are not at home with parents and siblings after all.  They are also relearning how to self-regulate without making noises or playing with things or pets, something they did when learning alone on zoom last year.  We can relate, right?  We had to relearn how to go to work in regular clothes instead of sweats, how to pack a lunch, how to speak to co-workers instead of multi-tasking on our zoom calls while muted. 


THANKS (NOT) TO NETFLIX: It is in that frame of mind that I share an article from CalSchool News with you regarding the need for vigilance over what your children are seeing online.  I want to bring the show Squid Game to your attention vis-à-vis our work here at school.  The article calls it a ‘megahit’ - that probably means that you are at least aware of it, watching or have watched it.  If you have watched it, you may be the wise ones at this point; you may have realized how inappropriate it is for children.  I want to plead with every parent who reads this to please be aware of what your child(ren) is/are watching/playing on YouTube, Netflix, Roblox, Fortnite … whatever shiny screen entertainment they fight with you to be able to watch or play! 

The premise of the series is insidiously attractive to schoolchildren, because the games they play are classic children’s games.  But the show has the characters play to the death, and I do not know how this ‘megahit’ is going to creep into the revival of these classic games at elementary school – or how the show’s other themes are going to find their way onto our campus. I do not want to alarm or scare you, but I want you to be aware, so that if your child speaks to you about games they are playing at school, but something sounds wrong or alarming – please email the teacher or me to bring our attention to it.  We may see kids playing a simple child’s game but without knowing what they are saying to each other, we may not appreciate the impact the game has on our students.   


FREE BUS PASSES: Finally, some good news, as announced in the news, in January, bus passes will be free for all youth, which is great!

That's all for now - keep in touch, especially if you are concerned about something happening at school - take care!

Ms. Amanda

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