Updates from Superintendent Skelly

  • July 10 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish |  Chinese

    Dear SMUHSD Families, Students and Staff:

    We are in the middle of our summer holidays. The first day of instruction for students is Monday, August 17 which feels at times a long way away and, alternatively, just around the corner. We will be updating the Board and seeking input from them on Tuesday, July 14 at 1 p.m. (see the agenda and Zoom information on our website). Topics for discussion include:

    • Phases of reopening
    • Learning Schedule 
    • Physical Education
    • Special Education Services
    • English Learner Support
    • Coursework outside of District
    • Orientation
    • Questionnaire to Families
    • Middle College, Adult School and Peninsula High 

    Reopening Plans 

    In addition to the board meeting, I want to make sure you know about a mandatory questionnaire we will be sending to you electronically next week. This communication will ask you to indicate your choices about how your student will receive instruction in the fall. We must have this information from each and every family in order to effectively launch in the fall.

    While I know our staff will put everything they have into their efforts, the pandemic makes our work very different, and harder. Many parents and community members have an interest in and high anxiety around what school could look like if we were to progress beyond phase 2. I share these concerns and have thought of little else for the past several months. At this stage, our staff needs to focus on what phase 2 will look like so that we can make it the best possible experience for your student. We are also using this time to plan for phases 3, 4, and 5 should we be able to move in that direction.  

    Learning has always been dependent upon the desire and motivation of our students as well as the support of those who love them. This will be truer than ever this fall.

    John Lennon said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”  This expression feels particularly apropos these days -- we hope that things will change soon, and we’re sure that they will eventually.

    I wish you a restful and rejuvenating July full of unexpected gifts.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

    P.S. I asked some of our English teachers for recommendations on titles our students could read this summer. Here are two teacher’s thoughts:

    Bethany Li, district English coordinator uses this strategy when selecting a good book: When selecting a book to read for pleasure, I rely heavily on Good Reads reviews, so that my reading experience feels connected to a community of readers with rich perspectives on a wide range of texts. Their summer reading list includes recommendations from well-read celebrities like Trevor Noah and Ali Wong, along with the most read books of 2020 to date. One title that caught my attention recently is Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, who describe the story of their friendship over the course of a decade. According to Good Reads: "Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them." Since shelter in place has caused many of us to feel isolated or lonely, this story seems like a helpful reminder to lean on the people we love for support in trying times.

    Jim Burke, Middle College teacher and author offers the following thoughts on summer reading: During times like these, I find there are two types of readers: those who like to go toward the issues at hand and those who want to get away from what is going on and read something that takes their mind off of the current troubles for a bit. I tend to be the sort that wants to read about pandemics during a global pandemic! Here are a few books that I have found really interesting lately and well-written: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is set in the future during a global pandemic referred to as the “Georgian Flu” since it came from Georgia, Russia. The next book, just out, is fiction but written by Lawrene Wright who has won many awards for his reporting on the Middle East. His new book, a novel, is titled The End of October and follows a global pandemic from start to finish. A real page-turner, well-written but engaging. Perhaps my favorite book about epidemics is Blindness, by Jose Saramago, a Portugese writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature years back. Very different from the other books as the epidemic is a mysterious “white blindness” that people pass on to each other without knowing it. If you want a more historical but excellent book about pandemics, I read and highly recommend John Barry’s The Great Influenza, which tells the story of the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Fascinating book. I found all these books interesting but not scary.

    P.P.S.: We experienced some technical difficulties when sending out my last message on July 2, and it did not reach all families. If you were one of those families you can read it on our websiteOur apologies. 

  • July 2 Update from Superintendent Skelly (PDF)

    SpanishChinese

    Dear SMUHSD Students and Families:

    I hope this note finds you healthy and doing your part to keep those around you in fine form as well. 

    Even though this is a week where many administrators and others are taking time off, planning for the fall is underway. The logistical challenges associated with the upcoming semester are daunting. However, I am pleased with the direction the school board gave us at their June 25 Board meeting. A summary of the important steps taken are included in my message from June 26 that can be found on our website (below).

    I’ve received a lot of questions about what synchronous learning is and what it will look like. The best way I have heard it described is that, no matter where you are, the instruction is happening in real time and all students are receiving it together. The District is committed to providing synchronous learning for all students almost every day, regardless of what phase of opening we are in.

    In the coming weeks each District family will be asked to complete a questionnaire choosing important elements of your student’s educational experiences for the coming semester. This will help the District to gauge your interest in distance learning with scheduled time for instruction vs. fully independent study; classes your student might plan to take outside of the District, and their need for a Chromebook and/or Internet access. For ninth and tenth graders, we will also ask about your choice for physical education classes. As we build the logistics around this we may ask whether or not your student wants to take Physical Education in person on campus or would prefer to meet this graduation requirement in another way. Students with IEPs and English Learners will also have questions that pertain to their experience. More information will be forthcoming. Stay tuned for this.

    There have been questions about the fall sports season. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has a state-wide meeting on July 20, and they will provide some direction to schools with respect to this important topic. No matter what they decide, our District plans to offer some sports in the fall depending on our ability to have students participate safely. As soon as we know more information we will share it.

    I hope your student reads this summer. Something. Anything! I have found upbeat stories of success and redemption to be a tonic for our troubled times. See our school websites for a few ideas. Here is one list of suggestions from the Hillsdale High website. Escaping the world for a few hours and developing empathy through a piece of literature can be very helpful. 

    I invite you to join the next board meeting on July 14 at 1 p.m. Next week I’ll share the agenda. Look for weekly updates from me and news from your principals later this month. 

    On we go!

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

     

June 26 Update

  • Update from Superintendent Skelly - Planning for Fall 2020

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families, Students and Staff:

    I want to share some outcomes of last night’s School Board meeting as well as thoughts about how we move forward to provide the very best education we can for our students this fall.

    The major takeaways from the Board meeting are that the Board endorsed the following:

    1. An instructional schedule that builds a basic seven period class schedule for all six comprehensive high schools. This schedule outlined in the presentation to the Board which can be found on our website provides about 187 minutes per week  per class of synchronous, teacher led instruction time with attendance taken and students engaged in learning. This instructional schedule (on slides 4-6) works whether classes meet in person or are virtual and we can move from virtual to in-person instruction seamlessly as health conditions permit.

    2. Beginning the school year in Phase 2 if public health conditions continue to allow. The presentation to the Board included a phased approach (see slide 8). Phase 2, would allow for small groups of students to receive outdoor instruction (this includes Physical Education and potentially classes like performing arts).  However, with respect to phases that would open up in person instruction further, the Board asked staff to continue to refine the phases and report back at the next board meeting on July 14 at 1 p.m.

    3. A robust orientation schedule for all students in August. Schools will begin planning these activities and we expect them to take place mostly on campus. As part of this orientation the District will provide students who need a computer right away for school work with Chromebooks, any textbooks needed, hotspots, and health protocols around face coverings, social distancing, handwashing and the like.

    4. The establishment of locations on each of our campuses where students who have Internet access issues, or lack a place at home to participate in virtual classes  can work safely and effectively. We are looking at other options to bring students to outdoor locations as well where students can access the Internet for online learning.

    5. The District will continue to provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches to students eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. These students will get nutritious meals every day school is in session. 

    Everyone is eager to have students safely back in school experiencing on campus learning. Students, teachers, staff and administrators long for a return to the in-person learning we had before March 13. The Board directed staff to report back at every fall meeting about the success of the instructional program and indicated a desire to adjust phase movement based on health directives and program efficacy. Further, the Board shared its view that whatever phased approach to bringing students on campus they adopt should be mindful of the particular needs of students at each grade level -- for example seniors needing support with college and other postsecondary planning to freshman making the transition from middle school. 

    Fall will be far better instructionally than the spring was, of this I have no doubt. The Board has budgeted ample time and money for teachers to plan, improve skills, and collaborate. Our teachers have the talent and commitment to doing this work right. As a community, we need to acknowledge and accept that the first semester will very likely start with much of instruction being virtual, synchronous teaching and learning.

    COVID-19 has "brought this nation to its knees," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last Tuesday. Even if we disagree with the direction of the District, we must put aside our differences, get on our feet, join together, and work to give our students the education and support they deserve despite the enormous challenges we face.

    As always, thank you for your support of our students.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

Superintendent's Update

  • June 25 Board Meeting

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    At their June 11 meeting, the Board of Trustees reviewed staff safety protocols and heard a report from the Return to School Committee. The Board directed staff to return with a plan for instruction in the fall. The presentation posted on our website includes a basic class schedule (with at least three hours of synchronous learning per class per week). On Thursday, June 25 the Board will review the proposal, give further direction and consider approval of a plan for how the District will deliver instruction in the Fall.

    I’m sharing some frequently asked questions which help illustrate the proposal for parents and students more thoroughly.  

    Those wishing to share their thoughts with the Board may do so by sending an email to returntoschool@smuhsd.org.  Please copy me at kskelly@smuhsd.org if you’d like. Those wishing to make a public comment on the topic may email comments@smuhsd.org with your name, email address, and your zoom name (if different) and the item under which you would like to comment. 

    Zoom Meeting login information is available on our website.

    I realize that there are concerns and some anxiety about school opening and the process we are following to come up with a plan. It is a messy time, but we are making progress and I’m increasingly confident that, despite the challenges, we can do right by our students and families this fall. Thanks for your interest and support.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent 

Superintendent Update

  • June 11 Board Meeting Update

    Spanish
     | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    After hearing comments from parents and staff members about the proposed quarter system as a possible plan for return to school, we will not be recommending this option to the  Board tonight. The updated proposal is posted on our website. It includes two possible models with opportunities for both in-person and distance learning. 

    In addition to discussing the plan tonight, we have tentatively scheduled a Special Board meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 5 p.m. to further discuss our plans for the 2020-21 school year. I invite you to attend both meetings. Information to attend tonight’s meeting can be found on our website.   

    I hope you will read over the material carefully, and observe the Board discussion and deliberation. If you wish to make a comment about an agenda item or during the public comments section at the beginning of the agenda, please send an email to comments@smuhsd.org with your name, email address, and your zoom name (if different) and the item under which you would like to comment. 

    Nearly every school across the nation is struggling with these very issues. I appreciate your patience as we grapple with all the educational challenges we are experiencing in relation to this public crisis.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent  

Superintendent's Update

  • June 8 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    On Thursday night, June 11, the SMUHSD School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m.  At this meeting they will receive the first report from the Return to School Committee. Specifically they will be asked to give staff guidance on the following recommendations: 

    1. To the extent that it is practicable and safe, schools in the District will open for in-person learning on August 17.
    2. Discussion of the bell schedule recommendation for the first semester with review of its success at a board meeting in October or November.

    The state has recently published its guidance on school openings that can be found on the California Department of Education website.  According to our recent survey, the vast majority of our students and families want and even need us to provide in-person learning. We believe we can meet the guidance from the state and county officials. Of course we can’t eliminate all risk but we can manage risk.

    The other recommendation is that the Board endorse a bell schedule for the first semester. We believe this bell schedule meets the four pillars of school opening - health and hygiene, face coverings, physical distancing and limiting gatherings.   

    We believe the bell schedule being recommended to the board for the beginning of the year also allows for the most safety in stable cohorts; reduces lunch contacts, allows for targeted student support; extends learning options and creates more opportunities for college classes, clubs, activities, counseling, and the potential for athletics. You can see presentation materials, and a screencast summarizing the bell schedule recommendation and discussion here.

    If you have comments, you can send them to returntoschool@smuhsd.org. The agenda and Zoom link to attend the meeting can be found on our website.  The meeting begins at 5:30 this Thursday.  

    We will continue to travel on this journey together into the new school year. Until then, I hope you enjoy your summer.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

    Superintendent




Superintendent's Update

  • Thoughts After Marching for Justice
    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students: 

    Since last Friday we have struggled to make sense of the death of Mr. George Floyd. 

    We write this note after returning from the peaceful march Wednesday night in San Mateo where thousands marched to remember Mr. Floyd, Ms. Breonna Taylor, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery and countless others before them. This event, organized in no small part by our students, allowed our community the chance to grieve and share our collective outrage at the crimes perpetrated against our African-American brothers and sisters. We were joined at this event by many District leaders including teachers, board members, administrators and other staff.

    This past school year our District redoubled its efforts around equity, justice, and meeting the needs of those students who need us most. For example, the Board of Trustees identified implicit bias training to be their collective goal and directed me and District leaders to make sure that this training was part of the professional development plan for all District staff. The Board carefully considered and then approved an Equity Vision and Mission Statement to guide the work of staff and community. Staffing at our schools was also adjusted to more fully recognize differences in resources and needs of students, with an eye toward justice.  And Ethnic Studies will move from being a pilot at some of our schools to a District graduation requirement.  But we need to do more. Far more.

    We don’t have answers as we move forward from this day to make our schools, community, our state, and our country match our ideals. However, last night we found inspiration in the collective expression of this march and its youthful leadership. There are wise people on this subject; we need to open our hearts and minds, to overcome our fear, listen and be changed.  

    We live in a broken, divided time. If we wish to heal and unite, we must work for justice! It is more important than ever.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Griffin
    SMUHSD Board Vice President

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

Superintendent's Update

  • May 29 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    A most strange, exhausting, and challenging year came to an end for all our students yesterday. We are grateful for the confidence and trust in us you demonstrate by sending your students to our schools. I’m proud of the collective work that went into what was a successful year. My fervent hope is that as you reflect as a family on the year, you can recount multiple moments of learning, growth and fun.  

    As we turn to the summer, I hope students find ways to be healthy in mind, body and soul.  For many of us, being healthy is inextricably linked to getting exercise -- without that, I struggle! Toward that end, we are pleased to announce that the District has opened stadium track facilities for the entire community’s use at Aragon, Burlingame, Hillsdale and San Mateo High Schools. Stadium tracks, not fields, will be available for use from 6 a.m. - 1 p.m., daily. Please note, the stadium tracks will be closed daily from 10-11 a.m. for lunch and will not be accessible during this time. At this time bathroom facilities will remain closed. For individuals interested in reserving time to use the stadium track, please visit our facilities use platform, Facilitron, which can be found on the home page of our website, under Latest News. Staff from the Facilities Use Department will be on site to ensure that community members are practicing appropriate social distancing protocols and to assist community members in general. 

    Besides these opportunities, there will be time available for students only to use the stadium fields after 1 p.m.  Please contact your school’s athletic director for more information.  This opportunity will start on Monday, June 8. In addition the Burlingame Aquatic Center at Burlingame High will be opening soon. Stay tuned.

    While we have discontinued food service for the summer months, there are a number of other school and community agencies providing free food throughout the summer months. To learn more please visit the Latest News section of our website

    As we head into the summer families and students can access  our website for information on the mental health resources our District provides. This page includes a form students and families can use for a Summer School Wellness Appointment. 

    As a reminder, we sent a survey to parents and students on Tuesday to learn more about your thoughts and opinions about returning to school. We will be guided by safety and directives from public health officials, but your feedback is invaluable in informing of planning efforts. Please complete the survey by Monday, June 1 at 6 p.m. 

    Parent Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CH3L8QQ

    Student Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNXW7RM

    Here’s to a great summer.   

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • May 28 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear SMUHSD Students and Families:

    Here are a few things about which I have been ruminating:

    • My inbox resembles the discussion we are having as a nation about reopening. There are people who don’t think we can do anything in the fall except virtual learning and others who will be angry if we do anything differently from pre-pandemic times. 

    • In my discussions with the School Board, we agree that we should make decisions carefully, guided by the public safety directives we receive. The Return to School Committee is doing their work in an atmosphere of changing guidelines. As time goes on, we learn more about the virus and its spread. This will inform the policies and practices we put in place. There will be a time where we have to make a decision, but for the moment we do have time to plan for multiple options before deciding on a course forward. 

    • The time since March 13 has been really hard. But the advantage we’ve had was that almost every teacher had built relationships with their students. Going into the fall, most teachers will be teaching students about whom they know very little, and one-quarter of our students will be brand new to our District. While we will be better trained technically, the relationships will be far weaker. My hope is that this period has strengthened our capacity for empathy and our desire for authentic connection. 

    • We will have all virtual learning for some students. I have heard from some parents that this is what they want, for various reasons. We will have an idea of the numbers after folks complete the survey due next Monday.

    • We will not please everyone. Just like our politics these days, folks are polarized on these decisions. Gentleness, civility, disagreeing agreeably, and assuming good intentions will be needed by the bushel basket. 

    Finally, thanks to those of you who have sent me nice notes, shared reactions to messages, offered suggestions, disagreed agreeably, and, in myriad ways, just been helpful.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • May 26 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students including families of rising 9th graders whom we look forward to welcoming in our District this fall: 

    We are in the process of planning for how we will reopen schools and/or deliver virtual learning as we receive directives from the County on what is possible for Fall Semester 2020. Public health conditions may evolve rapidly and it is our intention to reopen schools and provide in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. Members of the Return to School Committee have developed and our Board has affirmed the following Guiding Principles for reopening schools and delivering high quality instruction for the fall of 2020 and beyond. As a District we will:

    • Safeguard the health and safety of students and staff
    • Comply with the State and County Health Department directives and guidelines
    • Consider feedback from diverse and multiple sources
    • Ensure equitable access to teaching and learning:
      • Prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students
      • Ensure students have individualized check-ins at least once a week
      • Provide consistent online experiences 
    • Leverage resources to address achievement/opportunity gaps
    • Build flexibility into return to school plans with “in-school” and “at-home” learning strategies
    • Create metrics to measure the effectiveness of return to school plans
    • Use data to revise the return to school plans as needed
    • Leverage community resources to enhance return to school plans
    • Prioritize student connections with an adult 

    As one of our first steps, we would like to hear from you, our District families and students, as your feedback is instrumental to our Return to School Committee, and we ask you to share your opinions through the survey below. The survey is anonymous. Please complete it by Monday, June 1.

    While we know opinions may change as public health conditions evolve, we feel that your feedback, however preliminary it may be, allows us to have your input as we do this complex work. Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.  

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

    Parent Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CH3L8QQ
    Student Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNXW7RM

Superintendent's Updates

  • May 20 Update

    Spanish
     | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students: 

    Some years back, I spent a Thanksgiving break with my brother-in-law’s family. The patriarch of the house was Tom Adams, a wonderful man of infinite routine. Every morning he would go through the house and say, “I’m going to the store to get the newspaper. Does anyone need anything?”  I was younger and a bit of a wise guy. On the fourth day of his asking, I lied and said, “No, Tom, I already went to the store and picked up the paper and everything people needed.”  Tom was enraged. My family and I were almost tossed out of the house on the spot.

    While we may not all be like the great Mr. Adams, we all love our routines, and we count on them to give our lives structure and often, a sense of purpose. For some time after the Shelter in Place directives, it felt like there was a collective adrenaline that carried us through. But then we began to miss our routines.

    Not only do our routines give us structure, but they also save us time. We just completed a survey of staff members and a common refrain was how everything takes so much more time these days. They reported working harder than ever but accomplishing a lot less. Perhaps you’ve had the same feeling.

    As we start to wind down the school year, I would be interested in sharing with other parents your ideas for keeping your student learning over the summer. When my kids were young we used the website sporcle.com, that I have mentioned before, to find out who knew more about subjects from Pokemon to the countries of Europe. If you have websites or activities you use or have used to reduce what is often called “summer slide,” send me an email and I’ll share them out.

    Finally, we have a regular Board Meeting tomorrow night (Thursday, May 21) at 7 p.m. which will include an update on District operations during shelter in place. Please see the presentation posted on our website. Our hope is that this presentation will provide the Board and public a fairly comprehensive summary of where we are as a District and what we are thinking about for the fall across multiple dimensions.  Members of the public are welcome to join the meeting via Zoom. Instructions can be found on our website

    On we go, finding the energy outside our routines.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

    Superintendent

     

  • May 18 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students: 

    In my message Friday, I mentioned that Catholic Charities is the community agency in the Bay Area to distribute relief funds to undocumented immigrant families who did not receive a stimulus check. Families can begin requesting funds starting today by calling 866-490-3899. Families should call as soon as possible as funds will be limited to 150,000 families in California. Lines are open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.  More information can be found on the Catholic Charities website or families can call their school’s Family Engagement Coordinator. 

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

School Closure Updates from Superintendent Skelly

  • May 15 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    On Wednesday, I took a bike ride with my 24-year-old son. As we rode, I shared with him that what we are experiencing now may be the most disruptive event in at least the past seventy-five years. As we navigate this time together and individually, here are a few thoughts:

    • We need to be gentle with ourselves and others. Far more than COVID-19, our energy and thoughts are contagious. 
    • We can only do our best. More than ever, much is out of our hands. Sometimes, and particularly now, it is a world of intentions rather than results.
    • Exercise, being outdoors and practicing mindfulness are all more important than ever.

    Concerns over mental health are paramount at this time, for the communities we serve. As we head into the summer, I’d like to share a few resources with you. At their last meeting, our Board approved a contract with Care Solace. Care Solace is a concierge mental health service that makes it easier for families to connect with mental healthcare resources and providers in their communities. You can learn more about Care Solace by visiting our website. Additionally, our wellness team will offer limited access over the summer to virtual counseling appointments. For more information see our website or, reach out to District Mental Health Manager, April Torres at 650-558-2273.

    Catholic Charities has been designated as the core agency in the Bay Area to distribute relief funds to undocumented immigrant families who did not receive a stimulus check. Families can begin requesting funds on May 18, and they shouldn’t delay in applying as funds will be limited to 150,000 families in California. More information can be found on the California Department of Social Services website, or families can call their school’s family engagement coordinator for assistance.  

    My son left yesterday to return to Michigan where he works. Despite his age and maturity, it still feels like he’s leaving at a rough time. And then I am reminded of a line from the prose poem Desiderata: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

    For those of you with seniors, my feelings may resonate with you.

    On we go, with hope for those coming after us.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • May 13 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students: 

    This is Superintendent Kevin Skelly with a message for families and students of the San Mateo Union High School District.

    As I talk to parents and read the emails I receive, it’s clear we are all missing connections and engagement that we once took for granted. One parent described their senior as floating, as they wonder what comes next while lacking a moment of finality that graduation ceremonies typically represent. Virtual instruction, social distancing, and disconnection from others leave us unsatisfied, unsettled, and unsure. I can imagine that some students could feel we have forgotten them, when nothing is further from the truth.

    We are preparing surveys for students and families we hope to send out in the coming week. In particular, we are interested in hearing from the Class of 2020 and their families about what future event would be most appealing to celebrate their graduation in person when that’s possible. Given the size of our graduating classes and the restrictions of the County’s car-based celebrations order, that’s not possible now.

    Our District-level school reopening committee met yesterday and heard reports from several of the subcommittees that have already begun their work. At this point, we have more questions than answers. I’m sure you can imagine all the logistical, safety, and instructional issues associated with this work. And while the California State University system just announced instruction will be on-line for  the fall semester, we remain hopeful that we can have students back on campuses in the fall in some form. Stay tuned. 

    During my life there have been occasions where I poured everything I had into a situation. At the end of the day, however, my results failed to match my desire or my efforts. I continue to believe that hard work, grit, and determination are rewarded even though there are times when events can overwhelm these positive attributes . While this  is the case with so many parts of our lives these days, this time  will pass. Of this I am sure.

    On we go, with gentle determination.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

    P.S. I need to offer a correction to the message I sent out on Monday. The Pandemic EBT program allows for students who are eligible to receive free and reduced priced meals through the National School Lunch Program to receive up to $365 in benefits across a four-month period from March to June 2020, NOT $365 per month through the summer. For more information please see the Pandemic EBT websiteor call your school’s Family Engagement Coordinator. 

  • May 11 Update 

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear SMUHSD Families and Students:


    The COVID-19 Pandemic has magnified the existing problem of food insecurity for many families in our region. Our District will continue to provide free breakfasts and lunches to anyone 18 and under at Mills and San Mateo High Schools between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on weekdays through the remainder of the school year. Families who are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program can get $365 per month through the Pandemic EBT Program, and the California Department of Education provides information about free summer feeding sites. Please visit our website for updated information. Families may also reach out to your school’s Family Engagement Coordinator or Elsa Pulido at 650-558-2226 for additional information. 

    Last week I stopped by San Mateo High as they were collecting books and distributing caps and gowns. We never expected the year to end this way, but I’m appreciative that our families are handling this end-of-the-year business with patience and acceptance.   

    We haven’t made a firm decision, but there’s growing consensus that we should start the next school year a bit later than its scheduled Wednesday, August 12 start. You can plan on the new year starting no earlier than Monday, August 17, and it may be later than that. Stay tuned for more information.

    Finally, I’d like to wish all of our mothers a belated happy Mother’s Day!  This year was particularly emotive when I thought about my mom, who is back in our family home in Virginia sheltering in place.

    When I’m discouraged, my mom is one of the first people I call.  She grew up in Ireland, her dad was Master Martin, the head of a school in Kilnaleck, County Cavan.  My mom’s mother was also a teacher.  One time I called home and my dad said she was down at the main library -- she'd read all the books in the branch next to our home.  He exaggerated, but not much.

    Almost invariably, the first words out of her mouth are "Hope" is a Thing with Feathers."  It comes from this beautiful poem by Emily Dickinson shared below. Good tonic for our times. 

    On we go, with hope.

    Kevin

     

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

    BY EMILY DICKINSON

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers -
    That perches in the soul -
    And sings the tune without the words -
    And never stops - at all -

    And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
    And sore must be the storm -
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm -

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
    And on the strangest Sea -
    Yet - never - in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb - of me.

  • May 6 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    This first full week of May marks staff appreciation week in SMUHSD. Missing this year is our staff members being feted by parent groups with coffee carts, goodies and delicious lunches. Instead, we have teachers and other staff coming right into your home with virtual lessons on all manner of topics!  You are literally seeing teachers in a whole new light! Please try to take a moment to share your appreciation with staff members who make a difference with their uncommon efforts during this time. 

    As the world starts to reopen, the District is planning for reopening as well. The San Mateo County Office of Education formed a Pandemic Recovery Plan Committee, in conjunction with the Coalition for Safe and Supportive Schools.This group began meeting in April and will continue to meet this month with a target of May 11 to release a guidance document. Our District is well represented on that committee.

    We also formed a District-Level School Reopening Committee, headed by Deputy Superintendent Kirk Black. The group made up of administrators, staff, students and parents met on May 4 to plan the District's reopening. The group will meet weekly and has formed twenty-two subcommittees to tackle the various details associated with bringing students and staff back to our sites. We will be posting updates on our website and sharing information through my communications.

    While I can’t see the future, two things I do know -- reopening Schools will be much more complicated than virtual learning has been, and we will be guided by science and safety in our process.

    So on we go, with optimism and confidence!

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • April 28 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear SMUHSD Families and Students:

    Now that decisions have been made about grading and graduation, it’s time to start focusing on re-opening schools and summer school. This work is taking place at the state, county, and district level.  Deputy superintendent Kirk Black will be leading the District reopening committee and including folks from various departments with parent representation. We obviously do not yet know whether or not this will mean teachers and staff in buildings with students. Stay tuned for more on this.

    A wise person sent me this article on how we need to change our metrics and focus only on arriving in this time of Covid. It would have resonated with me when my own children were back in high school and I had to-do lists for them that were longer than my own.

    I don’t know about you, but I feel like the weather these past few days has been just fantastic. We are so fortunate to live in this most breathtakingly beautiful corner of the world. I hope you have a chance to enjoy some element of our world’s beauty today.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • April 24 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    This week school leadership teams have been thinking a lot about graduation. After hours of discussion, the consensus of our principals and District leadership is that, for this year, in terms of graduation celebrations, we’re looking at graduating soon and celebrating later. The uncertainty, lingering public health concerns about mass gatherings, and the need to plan something all necessitate honoring our graduates virtually. Each school is working on the specifics of how these virtual events will take place, and you will hear from your principal soon regarding the details. I know this probably does not come as a surprise, but that doesn’t diminish the disappointment we feel for seniors and those who love them. Each of our schools are also investigating ways to celebrate graduates at a later date, perhaps with an event over winter break next school year. Again, your principals will be in touch about proposed opportunities.

    We have received questions regarding online learning and grading. Parents and students can visit our website to see answers to frequently asked questions.

    Progress report grades have been posted in the Aeries Parent Portal. These grades represent students’ letter grades from February 18 - April 17. As with all progress report grades, these grades represent a moment in time and will be used along with the first six weeks and final five weeks to determine Credit/No Credit as the final mark for the transcript. Students will NOT receive a letter grade for their final grade - even if one is reported in Canvas at any point for the remainder of the semester. Progress Report grades and final grades/transcripts can always be accessed using the District’s Student Information System, Aeries. Instructions for how to set up and use Aeries can be found on our website.

    A final thought. Graduation, like grades, are more symbols than accomplishments. They represent and honor what students have done and the obstacles they have overcome through perseverance and hard work. Like almost all things, it is the journey and the effort that shape who we are and how we tackle life’s challenges. I hope you and your family have the chance to reflect on this over the dinner table or in moments where computers are shut and the television is off.

    On we go, with confidence and optimism.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D. 
    Superintendent

     

School Closure Updates

  • April 23 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese 

    Dear Families and Students:

    We are keenly and painfully aware that the adjustment to virtual teaching and learning has been jarring and difficult. What we thought would be a brief period of disruption now extends through the school year. Some students have adjusted and even thrived under present circumstances while others have really struggled. The same can be said of the adults in our community. We have been working on collective expectations of staff members. Over the next few days, your student should receive communications about office hours for all their teachers starting next week, if these have not yet been in place. 

    I also want to offer some thoughts on concerns we have been hearing about a diminution in student motivation because grades will be credit/no credit this semester. I acknowledge that this grading regime is disappointing to many students and families. I urge all students to use this time to focus on learning. Schools are, rightfully, places where LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE are prized, much more so than high grades. Nobody has asked me about my grades in high school or college, but they have judged me on my ability to write, to think, and to make connections. And it will surely be that way for our students as they go forward. 

    This is a hard time. I mourn for the losses across multiple dimensions and the real hardship many are enduring. 

    A good friend of mine wrote recently about the connection between suffering and love. Even though he is not an educator, it struck me as particularly apropos for our community. He notes that out of our collective suffering seems to spring an unusual amount of 

    …”Appreciation, at least, but more like admiration, fondness, respect, and caring have surfaced in places heretofore unnoticed.”

    I am coming to think we are all enrolled inescapably in this COVID-19 “School of Suffering.” However, what if this School of Suffering is also a School of Love? The curriculum, of course, is Love, something we all know about, each from our own stories and dreams. Nonetheless, we may still be stymied about this course we are in, afraid of how to get through it. In this sweet and bitter experience called life, we are all enrolled in this course and we will pass it -  not just with credit, but with distinction! 

    Indeed.

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • April 17 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    As you may have heard or observed, last night our Board of Trustees voted to adopt Credit/No Credit grading for this Spring 2020 semester. Details and the rationale for this change are available on our website. For students who receive No-Credit at the end of the semester, opportunities will be provided in the summer to help the student acquire the knowledge needed to master the subject. As always, it is our goal to make sure every student completes their courses successfully, despite the obvious challenges our present situation creates. The designation of Credit or No-Credit does not affect a student’s GPA.

    We will not mail six week progress reports at this time. Given the timing of Board direction, teachers will be providing letter grades through April 17 on progress reports available on the Aeries Portal, even though semester grades will be Credit/No-Credit. Parents will be informed when these grades are available. As we transition to Credit/No-Credit, teachers will work on establishing expectations for the rest of the semester on Monday. Students can use the day to catch up on assignments and meet their teachers back in the virtual realm on Tuesday, April 21. I acknowledge that all of this is far messier than any of us would like.

    There will be lots more to share, and I will do so early next week.

    All my best,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent 

  • April 16 Update

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

     

    During your busy days, I hope you have a chance to spend a bit of time outside. Not only is nature good for the soul, but it also can give us perspective -- a sense that the things that seem super-important are, over time, not as important as they can feel in the moment. I am fortunate to have a back porch which  I share for zoom calls with the other adults in my house. This affords me the chance to notice the buds on the trees, the seemingly cleaner and clearer air, and the sounds of the birds.  

    Today at 4 p.m. we will host our regular Board Meeting with our special meeting to discuss grading for the remainder of the school year at 5 p.m. Both meetings can be attended via the same Zoom login or dial in information in the latest news section of our website. Please note that this login and password has been updated from my last message to accommodate both meetings. We will also post an option for members of the public to watch the meeting via a live stream accessible from the website. The presentation staff will share with the Board and can be viewed on our website  along with additional information about the various options the Board will be considering. As I have said in the past, the Board will have to make a decision that is the least bad option.  And we have been assured that grades this semester will havevirtually no impact on a student's prospects for postsecondary study. 

    I will provide an update to families and students on the Board’s direction for grading this Friday, April 17. Monday, April 20 will be another work day for teachers to refine their plans for the end of the school year. Students can use the day to catch up on work they have not completed, or just relax. 

    Principals and I have received a number of questions about graduation. Key staff are discussing this intently, and we will share information with you as soon as it is available. 

    We don’t know when this period of Shelter in Place will end, but we do know that like winter, this quiet, lonely period will give way to a new Spring time. Our challenges are  to be at peace with not knowing the end time and to be ready to embrace the possibilities our restarting will offer. It is our great privilege to be engaged in the work to prepare your student for the promise and possibility that the future has, and always will, represent.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent  

School Closure Updates from Superintendent Skelly

  • April 8 Update

    Please note, we have moved our Special Board Meeting from 5 p.m on Thursday, April 9 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 16.

    Visit the Latest News section of the District website for Zoom login information. Please note this information has been updated from previous messages sent to families. 


    April 7 - Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families and Students:

    I learned today that the decision has been made by County Superintendents and Bay Area Health Officers in six Bay Area counties including San Mateo County to officially declare that school campuses will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Read more in this press release from the San Mateo County Office of Education. While this is hardly a surprise, I know it is disappointing. Our District remains committed to providing the highest quality virtual learning possible to all of our students during this time. 

    The Board and I have received considerable feedback regarding the credit/no-credit grading proposal staff was scheduled to share with our Board of Trustees at a special meeting at 5 p.m. tonight. In the interest of carefully considering this input, we have decided to postpone this meeting until this Thursday, April 9 at 5 p.m. 

    Additional information will be added to the agenda as soon as it is available. 

    Members of the public who have an interest in this meeting can join via Zoom using the following directions:

    • Online: https://zoom.us/join  
    • By Phone: Dial: US : +1 669 900 9128
    • Webinar ID: 196 736 925
    • Password: 592998

    We continue to welcome your comments on this topic which may be forwarded to comments@smuhsd.org to be shared with our Board.  

    Thank you for your support of our District, and enjoy your spring break.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

    Superintendent 

  • April 3 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese 

    Dear Families and Students:

    It’s clear that we are headed for closure for the rest of the year. I wish I could find a positive spin for this, but I am devastated for families, particularly our seniors, that their high school experience will be marred like this. The four years of high school are often the most formative and important in a young person’s life. I feel sad that this year’s graduates will miss out on the rites of passage and experiences of every other class before and hopefully after the Class of 2020. That said, I know schools are thinking about ways to make the end of the year special, even if it is vastly different. Stay tuned for that discussion

    This week various teachers’ groups, principals, and other District leaders have reached the collective recommendation that Credit/No Credit is the least bad of all the suboptimal grading options we have for work this semester. My memo to the Board, available on our website,  outlines our thinking and recommendation to the Board. On Tuesday, April 7 at 5 p.m. we will have a Special Board Meeting to discuss the issue further. I look forward to this community discussion, hearing the Board’s wisdom and receiving direction. 

    For those who wish to attend please use the following Zoom meeting link or dial in:

    Online: https://zoom.us/join  
    By Phone: Dial: US : +1 669 900 9128
    Webinar ID: 196 736 925
    Password: 592998

    On Monday, April 13, the day after spring break, staff will be working on planning for the remainder of the year based on the direction we get from the Board. If we go to Credit/No Credit it does not mean that students will get a free pass on schoolwork for the rest of the year. Instead, it will be incumbent upon students to meet the subject matter expectations of their teachers to earn credit for the class. Since so many subjects build upon the previous learning, our staff need to have high expectations so students are prepared for future study. We recognize all this will be messy, and we are preparing compensatory educational opportunities including summer school and other learning opportunities outside the regular school day and year for those who don’t complete courses successfully

    Our District will continue to serve free food to anyone 18 and under at Mills and San Mateo High Schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday. Learn more about other free food locations on our website 

    Once again, thank you for supporting your student’s physical and emotional health, and thank you for your patience and decency during this unprecedented time. I wish you a relaxing spring break. Remember, no schoolwork is expected of students from April 4-13. Virtual instruction will resume on Tuesday, April 14. 

    Be well, 

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

School Closure Information

  • March 30 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families

    Today marks the start of week three of at-home learning. I hope you are finding ways to be gentle and kind to those with whom you are cohabitating.

    In this environment of unexpected virtual learning, our teaching staff will use the Monday after Spring Break, April 13 for online professional development to discuss plans to best serve our students for the remainder of school closures. There will be no assignments given and no schoolwork expected from students on this day. Online learning will resume for students on Tuesday, April 14.

    On March 24, 2020 the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted a temporary Countywide moratorium on evictions from residential units for non-payment of rent by tenants directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The emergency regulation takes effect immediately, and unless extended by the Board of Supervisors, expires May 31, 2020. Tenants will have up to 180 days after the expiration of the emergency regulation to pay delayed rents that were not paid while the emergency regulation was in effect. 

    For more details about the regulation, please visit the San Mateo County Department of Housing website.

    Students living in San Bruno needing internet access can receive in-home modems from San Bruno Cable free of charge. San Bruno students may call 650-558-2480, to request a modem. Students who have hotspots who no longer need them are encouraged to call 650-558-2480 to return them to the District. 

    For more information, or to request a Chromebook, please please fill out  the Google form on our website, or call 650-558-2480. 

    Sending positive thoughts!

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

    Superintendent

School Closure Update

  • March 27 Update from Superintendent Skelly and Assistant Superintendent Kempkey

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families:

    With the extension of school closures, families, students and staff have many questions about what this means for students’ grades and their future educational plans. As a result, we are refining our instructional guidelines. Part of this work is to gain wisdom from our community. Yesterday, we sent out a survey to our students; over 2,500 students have already responded. Students are describing a range of experiences. The major themes that arise will help inform us how to make the online learning experience more manageable and meaningful for our students. 

    We are also eager to hear from you, our parents and caretakers, on your perspective of how online learning is going for your student. Please take a moment to take this survey to help inform the refinement of the online learning experience for students thus far. 

    One thing that we know supports students in their experience in the online learning environment is having some virtual facetime with their teachers. Our teachers will redouble their efforts to make office hours a regular part of their practice. However, many teachers are not able to keep to the regular school schedule as they have additional personal and family obligations associated with the shelter in place directive. Additionally, we are working on developing some choices for students as it relates to their grades. We are in contact with universities and colleges to understand how they will adjust their expectations due to school closures and the impact on students' education.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to your students’ school counselor. Your students’ counselor is responding to questions via email and students and parents may email counselors to request a meeting via phone or video conference. They are currently scheduling next year’s courses for students across the District, including incoming 9th graders. They are also working closely with Seniors on completing graduation requirements and transition plans to post-secondary options, including community college enrollment and finalizing four-year college selection. 

    The best resource for information about Advanced Placement courses and exams for families is the College Board’s website, Your student’s AP teacher is the best resource for subject specific questions. 

    This time of virtual school has laid bare how much we all count on in-person experiences to accomplish so many things. There will be a diminution of students’ experiences, despite all our best efforts. That said, we are committed to doing our best. And we know you and your students are as well.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

    Julia Kempkey, Ed.D.
    Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction

School Closure Information

  • March 25 Update from Superintendent Skelly - School Closure Extended to Monday, May 4

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families: 

    The San Mateo County Office of Education just released information regarding a regional decision to extend school closures and dismiss students from regular attendance through May 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. This means that SMUHSD students will tentatively return to school on Monday, May 4. 

    This is disappointing, of course. We all crave a return to our normal lives. That said, I trust that our public health leaders have the wisdom and expertise to make these important decisions and we will follow them as a district community.

    District teachers and administrators are working to extend our plan to provide online/virtual learning for our students. We are also formulating guidelines for teachers for the assignment of grades in a way that is fair and equitable. This is complicated as we try to balance giving students every benefit of the doubt while motivating students to stay deeply connected with their learning. We hope to share these guidelines next week. Stay tuned.

    While we do have a significant portion of students whose engagement in learning hasn’t been visible to staff, the vast majority of our students are meeting the learning expectations set by their teachers. We are grateful to you for creating high expectations in your household and appreciate your support in this and myriad other ways.

    Families who are still in need of WiFi can now access free, public connections through Xfinity, except for those who live in San Bruno who have different providers. I will provide more details in my next update to families tomorrow or Friday. 

    Finally, I hope you are finding a silver lining somewhere in this time. As a parent of four high school graduates, there are some wonderful aspects to this teenage season that you will miss, trust me! In any case, some rich discussion and reflection during family time might be valuable.

    On we go!

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

School Closure Information

  • March 24 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families: 

    I participate in a near daily conversation with the other superintendents in the county. The plan right now is for the San Mateo County Office of Education and superintendents from across the county and Bay Area to work with the Bay Area Health Directors to make a joint decision about schools reopening. As soon as I know anything I will share it. Here’s hoping we are back in session after spring break.

    I heard a politician describing the “unnatural” time in which we are living. Social distancing is not natural. We crave community and a connection to others. I saw the results of a teacher’s survey of students and the one thing consistently mentioned was how much they missed seeing their friends. As you think about how you support your student, consider ways you can nudge them to have virtual interactions and reach out to each other to form learning groups or simply go over material, with a particular emphasis on bringing in students on the fringes. On that note, we will be sending a survey out to our students in order to better understand their experiences and support them.

    Speaking of social distancing, I’ve received numerous communications about this topic as it relates to our schools' fields. As I visit these during walks, it’s hard to tell how well social distancing is going as one cannot tell who is a “family.” It’s healthy to be outside, but let’s all do our part in these situations. The science on this is clear -- if we have fewer interactions we’ll bend the infection curve. Read our County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow’s March 23 statement if you need a reminder of just how important it is that we follow the directions set forth by public health experts. 

    Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent

  • March 20 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families:

    These are stressful times!  No family expected to have their teenagers at home 24/7 for these three weeks -- or more!  I hope you are finding some unexpected blessings from this family time.

    One possible source of angst is the loss of instructional time in the classroom. Keep in mind, however, that if your child has been in California schools, they have likely NEVER missed school for bad weather (except the smoke last year). And they’ve had 180 days of instruction -- far more than young people in some private schools and many other states. Further, their less structured time now can be the source of curiosity, deeper social connections, and space to reflect on their place in the universe. If we have to go beyond the scheduled three week closure, we’ll keep the learning going!

    If you are looking for a fun, family activity, check out the Sporcle website. Challenge the young people in your house to see who knows the most about various topics. We’ve had ferocious fun at our house over the years competing while learning. And there are always board games that offer learning hidden within competition. 

    Here’s a recap of the first week:

    Mental Health

    Our wellness counselors continue to offer virtual appointments to our students. Please visit our website to learn more about this and other resources available to your family. 

    Free Food 

    We continue to provide free breakfasts and lunches to anyone 18 and under at Mills and San Mateo High Schools from 11 a.m -1 p.m. Monday-Friday. On Thursday we provided 550 meals. A number of our partner districts as well as Primrose and Samaritan House are offering food. View comprehensive information about food services on our website. The California Department of Education has also created a free California Meals for Kids mobile app to help families find free meals. 

    Technology

    Our District continues to provide Chromebooks and hotspots to students who need them in order to complete their schoolwork. To request a device, please fill out this Google form, email techrequest@smuhsd.org or call 650-558-2485. We will be able to distribute hotspots toward the end of next week and can distribute Chromebooks within 48 hours of new requests (Monday-Friday). 

    Teaching and Learning

    Teachers across the District are using the Canvas Learning Management System and other digital tools to conduct online learning with students in all courses each week. It is our expectation that students should have between 2-5 hours of work per week for each class in which they are enrolled. You should ask your student how it is going and support them with creating some structured time every day to do some of their work. If you would like to find out what your student is up to just ask them!  Information is also available through installation of the Canvas Parent App or by visiting the Canvas Parent Account page of our website.

    Testing

    Finally, the state will not require schools to administer the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) this year. Visit the Governor’s website for more detailed information from the State of California.

    The Advanced Placement (AP) Program released some new information today about its plan for the spring assessments which will allow students to take the tests from home. The College Board has also made all of its online resources available to students to support preparation for the assessments. Please see the AP website for more information. 

    March and May administrations of the SAT have been cancelled. In the coming days, the College Board will share additional information and details directly with registered students and test centers. The June testing date will be decided at a later date. 

    Additional Questions & Resources

    If you have additional questions about community resources that are available to support you and your family during this time, please feel free to reach out to our District Family Engagement coordinator, Elsa Pulido at 650-558-2226.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.

    Superintendent

School Closure Information

  • March 18 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Spanish | Chinese

    Dear Families:

    Over the years, as colleges and other post-secondary institutions shift more instruction to on-line platforms, district administrators have often mused about creating opportunities for our students to have that experience. Chalk our present times up as making this experience happen!

    In some ways the first few days of this unexpected school closure could have the feeling of winter break. However, unlike that break, students need to stay on top of assignments and current with the expectations from teachers. While teachers will undoubtedly be flexible about assignments, since most learning builds upon itself, keeping up is key.

    Many of you heard the governor’s comments yesterday about the possibility of schools being closed through the school year. We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that!  In any case, our teachers will continue to do all they can to maintain instruction. I welcome any comments and feedback you might have at kskelly@smuhsd.org.

    A few updates for families:

    Food Services
    Free meals are available to anyone 18 and under at a number of locations throughout the area including Mills and San Mateo High schools on Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Please visit our www.smuhsd.org/school-closures website for times and locations of sites being operated by our K-8 partner districts that may be closer to your home. 

    Chromebooks and Hotspots 
    If a student needs technology support to complete online learning during the period of school closure, please fill out this Google doc or email techrequest@smuhsd.org or call 650-558-2480. We are in the process of delivering these items to students and will continue to do so as we are able. Please allow at least 48 hours for new requests.  

    Additional Questions & Resources
    If you have additional questions about community resources that are available to support you and your family during this time, please feel free to reach out to our District Family Engagement coordinator, Elsa Pulido, 650-558-2226.

    Thank you for supporting your student’s health and learning. I will continue to send regular updates. 

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent 

  • March 16 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Dear Families: 

    This afternoon seven Bay Area jurisdictions have issued a “shelter in place” order. This order directs San Mateo County residents to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible until April 7 as public health officials aim to curb the spread of Coronavirus. 

    All of our schools and facilities will be closed until April 7 at the earliest. We will re-evaluate our ability to reopen the District at that time.  

    Unfortunately after today we will not be able to continue to distribute Chromebooks or hot spots to students. 

    We will continue to provide grab and go breakfasts and lunches at Mills and San Mateo High Schools from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. from Monday-Friday. This service is available to anyone 18 and under, and participants do not need to show their ID or any type of paperwork. 

    Please take care of yourself during these unprecedented times. We will provide updates as needed.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D. 
    Superintendent

  • March 13, 2020 Update from Superintendent Skelly

    Dear Families: 

    Last night you received an email from me informing you that schools and school-related activities will be closed for students effective after today’s minimum day. Today, the San Mateo County Health Officer issued a School Operations Modification Order through Friday, April 3. This order requires schools to dismiss students from regular attendance and encourages school districts to implement at-home (online) learning models. This means that our schools will tentatively open on Monday, April 13 after the week of spring break from April 6-12.

     

    Social Distancing and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

    One of the main reasons for closing schools is to allow for a period of social distancing to halt community spread of COVID-19. I encourage families to follow the guidelines of the CDC during school closures to take advantage of this opportunity to allow social interactions to diminish and prevent the spread of the virus. While I know how difficult it may feel for families to stay at home and “self-quarantine,” this may be the only way to prevent the spread of the virus. None of this is easy, but every little bit helps.  


    Nutrition Services: March 16 - April 3

    During the school closure, all students and anyone 18 and under can receive grab and go breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday at Mills High School and San Mateo High School. Nutrition services employees will staff a cart offering a variety of healthy options between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Please visit this webpage for detailed information on locations and how to pick up food. 

    The San Mateo-Foster City School District will also offer free meals for all children and teens 18 and under at various locations. No paperwork is needed to take advantage of either of these services please see more information in this flyer. 


    All School Activities are Cancelled through April 3

    All school-related activities including extracurricular activities, athletics, parent or student meetings and activities planned by outside providers (including the SAT) between now and April 3 at each of our school sites have been cancelled. With the exception of food services detailed above, only authorized staff will be in our facilities after March 16 until we reopen. This will allow our maintenance and operations staff the opportunity to thoroughly sanitize our facilities. 


    Mental Health 

    Some students may feel additional stress and anxiety during this period of uncertainty. Students can request to speak with a Wellness Counselor while schools are closed by filling out a form specific to their school site - find the form on our website along with other mental health resources. Virtual appointments are available during regular school hours, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

    If this is a medical or mental health emergency, please do not fill out the form, and contact the following sources immediately: 

    • Crisis Text Line: text "home" to 741-741
    • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
    • StarVista Crisis Hotline: 650-579-0350
    • 911 or visit your nearest hospital emergency room if you can get there safely 

    Additionally, please see this resource produced by the National Association of School Psychologists about talking to children about COVID-19. 


    Loaner Technology Devices 

    Chromebooks and a limited number of hotspots are available for loan out of our school libraries through 3 p.m. on March 16. If your student needs a chromebook to complete online learning during this period of school closure, please contact your school administrator, fill out this google doc or email techrequest@smuhsd.org. After March 16, chromebooks and hot spots may be requested through the District by contacting 650-558-2485 or emailing techrequest@smuhsd.org. Our staff will respond to this request and reach out to you to arrange a pickup time at our District Office at 650 N. Delaware, San Mateo. 

     

    Health

    If a member of your family is confirmed positive for COVID-19, please reach out to our District Student Health Coordinator at studenthealthservices@smuhsd.org. Additionally, if your child is sick during this time, please report their absence as you normally do through your school’s website.  

     

    Thank you for your support of your student’s health and learning during this period of school closure.

     

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D. 
    Superintendent

     

SMUHSD School Closure Information

  • March 12, 2020 Coronavirus Update from Superintendent Skelly - School Closure Notice

    Dear Families:

    At tonight’s Board meeting, the decision was made to close the schools of the San Mateo Union High School District effective Monday, March 16 and enter a phase where we will deliver at-home learning to our students. After tomorrow’s minimum day, Friday March 13, all schools, including the San Mateo Adult School, will be closed to students through at least Friday, March 27. While it may not be possible to open on March 30, we want to hold out hope that health conditions are better by then. If the decision is made NOT to reopen on the 30th, then school will be closed through spring break (April 6 to 10). We will advise families of school reopening by Wednesday, March 25.

    Our staff will help your students on Friday to prepare for this phase of at-home learning and will report to work on Monday, March 16 to further refine our plans to serve your students. Neither teachers nor students will be permitted to return to school sites after March 16 until we reopen, so that staff may sanitize our campuses. 

    All extracurricular activities will also be cancelled effective tomorrow.

    While it is not possible to match the instructional conditions present in classrooms, our teachers and staff are dedicated to doing what they can to make sure learning continues. Teachers will be using Canvas, our learning management system, and other electronic methods to give students assignments and guide learning. Your student will be hearing directly from teachers about the expectations during this time. If your student needs a device and/or internet access, please let the school office know immediately, or email techrequest@smuhsd.org.

    We are also working on ways we can provide breakfast and lunch to students who count on schools for food. At this point we plan to provide food at San Mateo and Mills High Schools. Stay tuned for specifics in an upcoming communication. In addition, if your student has an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), look for a separate communication.

    I know I speak for the School Board and staff when I say that we are doing the best we can during these challenging times. Thank you for your support and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted territory. 

    If you have any questions, please email studenthealthservices@smuhsd.org.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Skelly, Ph.D.
    Superintendent 

     

Update on Pandemic EBT Benefits

  • Due to coronavirus (COVID 19), students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school are eligible for extra food benefits. These food benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT benefits. P-EBT benefits help families in California buy food when school is closed. The Pandemic EBT program allows those who are eligible to receive up to $365 in benefits to be spent on groceries.

    If you have NOT received your card, please apply online at P-EBT Application by June 30, 2020.

    If you have received your card and have questions, please call California’s EBT customer service center at (877) 328-9677.

    For more information please see the Pandemic EBT website.

More Information

Wellness Resources for Parents and Guardians