Letter from Mr. Bertolo

Letter from Mr. Bertolo

Hello My Esteemed Squirrel Families:

Right now, I know many of you are feeling a heightened sense of anxiety or concern about the potential strike and its impact on students and our community. The emotion and opinions around this event are just as diverse as our population. As a school community, we all play a critical role in the events as they unfold and transpire. I want to caution everyone to remember that it is our response and reaction to these events that will determine how we emerge from the other side.

While my first priority will always be student safety and need, I must also take into consideration the safety and need of teachers, support staff, and parents. What is great about our Sequoia community is the genuine warmth and compassion for everyone. The teachers absolutely know there is support for their decisions. They also know that support may not appear the same way in all cases. There are parents who will be unable to keep their children at home or send them to alternate sites during this time. Additionally, we have talked as a staff about being sympathetic to those classified staff who must report to work in order to support their own families. Our teachers genuinely understand those decisions are not an attempt to undermine their efforts, nor are they a sign of non-support. I absolutely believe this mindset will prevent our community from breaking apart.

So, what is the plan? The district has made it clear schools will remain open during a strike. Administrators and classified staff will report to their sites as they do every day, but classified staff will make their own determination about calling off. Unfortunately, without highly qualified teachers providing instruction, the day will look significantly different. I want to provide our plan of action to support students:

• The district is currently hiring substitutes in the event of a strike. Each site will have a small number of substitutes based on student attendance. We do not know how many substitutes they will give our site.
• The students will start their day in the auditorium. We will take attendance and divide students into three grade-level groups: TK-1, 2-3, 4-5.
• Students will rotate through three 50-minute stations.
o Morning Rotations (8:30-9:20, 9:25-10:15, and 10:20-11:10):
▪ Auditorium: The auditorium will have chrome books where the students will do ST Math, RazKids, or Typing Club. Staff will monitor and ensure students are working on academic sites.
▪ Outside Play Area: Students will have structured and unstructured play with materials set up. If it rains, we will move the outdoor rotation indoors, and work on vocabulary and word skills.
▪ Library: Students will have book bags and have free reading time in the library. Temporary staff will help ensure students have their book bags and books.
o Lunch (11:10-11:35, 11:40-12:05): We will have two 25-minute blocks in the cafeteria. For those students not eating lunch until 11:40, from 11:10 to 11:35, staff will do a small group read-aloud. The students eating from 11:10-11:35, will have their read aloud from 11:40 until 12:05.
o Afternoon Rotations (12:05-12:55, 1:00 -1:50, and 1:55-2:45):
▪ The afternoon will have the same three rotations as the morning. Following our usual time, we will release kindergarten students at 2:45 followed by 1st-5th at 3:00.

I know this is extremely stressful for everyone, and I truly understand we must make decisions based on our own set of circumstances. I want to thank you for your continued support. I know in the end, everyone is doing what is necessary to make Sequoia a better place. For that to continue, we remember who we are as a community, and continue to support one another.

With Warmest Regards,

Donald T. Bertolo
Sequoia Elementary School, Principal

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