Nearly seven weeks have passed since we closed our office doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So much is still unknown, but like many of you, we are doing our best to help families find answers and relief in this time of uncertainty.
Talks of reopening California have started, but with the recent extension of shelter-in-place orders, families have many questions about what summer and next school year will look like. The answers are neither quick nor easy, but a few recent pieces that are informing our thinking include: NPR: 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different, Getting Smart: How to Reopen School, Hechinger: What Will We Do…, KQED: Four Core Priorities…, and Transcend: 3 Steps a Leader Can Take…. Let us know if you recommend other resources with solutions and perspective to support educators and families.
One thing that’s clear is that this is an extraordinarily complicated moment for teachers and school personnel — working to maintain relationships with students and families, reinvent and learn new instructional practices, and provide care and support for their own children and families at home. On the eve of teacher appreciation week, we celebrate and honor our state’s teachers, and invite you to take time to appreciate the educators in your lives [Fresno, Oakland, West Contra Costa] who are navigating and persisting in support of our learners.
Before you dive into what we’ve been up to, I’d also like to take a moment to thank you for supporting the Oakland REACH Relief Fund, the Richmond Promise Scholars Rapid Response Fund, and the United Way’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. Whether you donated directly to these organizations, connected us to someone new, or forwarded our call to action within your network, I am grateful and inspired by the outpouring of care and generosity we are seeing across our communities.
When the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order went into effect, the GO Oakland team asked themselves a simple question: how can we help? It didn’t take long for the team to find their answers.
For weeks now, GO Oakland has been helping to meet the needs of Oakland families via their #GOgive campaign. The team has focused on raising awareness and funds for efforts like the Oakland REACH Relief Fund, Oakland International High School’s Emergency Fund for Newcomers, the Oakland Public Education Fund’s COVID-19 Rapid Relief Fund, and several others. The team has also donated groceries, masks, and other essential items throughout Alameda County.
The COVID-19 pandemic has truly deepened racial inequities in the Oakland community and across the nation. To address some of these challenges, GO Oakland recently launched the Educator QuaranTEAM. Twice a month, over 30 school leaders, teachers, coaches, counselors, and support staff from 18 Oakland schools are coming together to learn, collaborate, and interrupt racial oppression as they redesign Oakland schools to best serve students and families.
The team has also created and curated resources to help our community make sense of the distance learning guidelines issued by the California Department of Education, as well as Oakland Unified’s approach to providing instruction during this time.
- Distance Learning During COVID-19 Closures: What Parents Can Expect |En Español
- Stimulus Check FAQ | En Español
- Parent voice: Supporting students with disabilities, even during the COVID-19 closures
In West Contra Costa…
Last month, Executive Director Natalie Tovani-Walchuk said to her network that “right now is a time of more questions than answers.“ She was right then, and she’s right even now. But this hasn’t stopped GO West Contra Costa from doing what they do best — developing parent leaders and driving toward solutions that will benefit our students now, and in the future.
GO WCC recognizes the complexities of this time and is committed to helping parents navigate distance learning while continuing to build their capacity as advocates. The team recently launched a new digital learning series, inviting professionals to share expertise on topics like the Census and strategies for supporting learning at home.
The team is also working with West Contra Costa Unified’s Chief Technology Officer to broker partnerships with tech companies to provide hotspots and internet access to West Contra Costa families in need.
- Answers and resources for families with English Learners | En Español
- Wifi Cheat Sheet | En Español
- Rights and resources for families of students with disabilities during distance learning | En Español
Every morning, GO Fresno begins the workday with a 7:00 am team meeting over Zoom. While their little ones are still sound asleep, they run through an agenda that is largely driven by concerns brought forth by parents in the community. The topics they tackle range from Fresno Unified’s grading policy to relief funds for undocumented families. By 8:30 am, they’re ready to act.
Over the past six weeks, the GO Fresno team has played the role of communicator, convener, and connector within the broader Fresno community. Leveraging their partnerships with community organizations and elected leaders, the team is both amplifying parent needs and stressors and encouraging coordinated, county-wide solutions. Their most recent presentation alongside the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools highlighted the need for better two-way communication between parents and district staff, and concluded with a commitment to serve high-need populations with more intentionality.
I wish you and your families health during this difficult time. The road ahead is uncertain, and so much will continue to depend on how we show up for each other. We will get through this by learning, sharing, and leaning in together.
Jonathan Klein, Co-Founder and CEO