The Latest Connecting with Kyla, looking at the COVID Crisis, Response, and Resources

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Dear OUSD Community,

As you likely know, our school closure has been extended through at least May 1. Although we want nothing more than for our students to be reunited with their teachers and school staff, the well-being of our community is our top priority. As May 1 approaches, we will reevaluate when we can return to school. It is my sincere hope that we get back in class as soon as possible, but we cannot do so before it’s safe for our community.

This is a moment in our lives that requires all of us to reach deep. To find the strength we need to support not only ourselves and our families, but also those around us. In moments like this, we have to live our values. This is hard on everybody, but let’s be real, there are families in our community for whom this is devastating, if not already, then it will be soon. We have to find ways to support them through this.
Tomorrow is a District holiday to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day. We are pausing to honor the civil rights leader who fought for workers everywhere, four days before his birthday on March 31. Fittingly, he said, “History will judge societies and governments — and their institutions — not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless.”

That is the standard to which we should hold ourselves everyday.OUSD is about teaching and learning, but in this moment we have to be more than that. Our community schools are hubs to support families through this crisis. We are working on creative ways to serve our community and we cannot be restricted to our old roles or ways of thinking. These circumstances also require all levels of government and philanthropy to operate as one. We are working closely with all of our partners to address important and immediate issues such as graduation requirements, bridging the digital divide, and serving our students with special education needs.

In the meantime, we are adapting quickly and changing how we operate. I am incredibly proud of our staff and the progress we have made. There are so many people stepping up and taking on new and challenging roles. I so deeply appreciate:
Our nutrition services staff, school security officers, custodians, principals, teachers, and central staff who are supporting the Grab and Go free meals, which continue through spring break.Our site leaders and teachers who are embracing this new challenge. I have heard so many reports of teachers and others reaching out to support our families directly.Our staff who are working from home – often without any child care support – to keep the district running, make sure people get paid and support other employees.Our labor partners for their support in meeting the challenges before us and thinking creatively in support of the community and their members.I’m proud to be a part of the Oakland community and leading our district with so many of you through this public health crisis. My staff and I will continue to bring you the latest updates as soon as we receive them via phone calls, emails, press releases, our website –, social media, and on your local news. We have a Frequently Asked Questions document that we are updating often.

If you want to help, we are accepting donations and volunteers can click here for more information on how to support food distribution.

Please take good care of yourselves, your children, elders, and each other.  

We will get through this together. 
Please share your thoughts on this message.Respectfully, Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
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