Employee newsletter, March 30, 2020

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School closure update

On Monday, March 30, Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman closed Arizona schools through the duration of the school year. Read a message from Dr. Lesar that was sent to all district staff and families earlier today.

On Friday, March 27, the Governor signed legislation to help support school districts in the event of an extended closure. This includes suspension of statewide testing requirements, assurance that schools will not need to extend our calendars into the summer, and funding to support continued employee pay. The legislation also requires learning opportunities for students to continue. As communicated last week, high school students began remote learning today, with preK-8th grade remote learning kicking off Monday, April 6.

More information will be shared as soon as it is available. Find the latest updates about school closures at mpsaz.org/beprepared.

Superintendent finalists announced

At a special board meeting Friday, March 27, the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board selected three finalists for the position of superintendent of schools.

The finalists are:

  • Dr. Andi Fourlis, current deputy superintendent at Mesa Public Schools
  • Dr. Heath Morrison, current president of the School group at McGraw-Hill Education
  • Mrs. Holly Williams, current executive director of master planning & bond projects at Mesa Public Schools

The district will host a live-streamed Q&A session with the individual finalists April 6. The board will conduct interviews with the finalists April 7 and intend to announce the superintendent appointment at the April 14 board meeting.

Finalist biographies will be posted by April 1 on the superintendent search webpage.

Free internet for qualifying families from Cox

High school remote learning has launched, with preK-8th grade remote learning to follow April 6. Know a family with limited or no access to the internet? Cox Connect2Compete is providing 60 days of free internet for qualifying families. Learn more and sign up at cox.com/connect2compete.

How to work from home (and keep your cool!)

The school closure has brought a lot of change for our Mesa Public Schools family. Some staff continue to work on site, others are adjusting to working from home, but all are working in new ways.

Here are some reminders about best practices for working from home.

Message etiquette

Because staff are expected to continue working during the closure, be sure to regularly check and respond to email and Webex messages during work hours. Here are a few other tips:

  • Please limit the use of reply-all to times that it really matters.
  • You can prevent others from using reply-all if you put the distribution list in the Bcc line when sending out large group communications.
  • Use Bcc for emailing groups to protect the confidentiality of those who are included.
  • Remember that if you're on a Webex team, everyone gets an alert when you post. Please try to limit your posting to reasonable work hours. 
  • Email and Webex are both considered public record, so be thoughtful about your posts.

Working hours

Have a designated space to work at home. Set up a schedule for your day. Plan your goals and tentative timelines. Give yourself regular breaks and get up and move. While weather permits, open windows to let in fresh air.

It may be hard at first, but it's important to set clear boundaries between your work and home life so you don't burn out. Be conscious of using your district accounts for work-related activities and conversations only.

Staying healthy

Exercise helps you stay well physically and mentally, which is especially important during social distancing. Check out this article with more than 25 free home workouts available online. Or head on over to the district Facebook page to check out our PE at Home series, which features daily videos from district elementary PE teachers.

Webex like a pro

Here are some simple reminders to keep Webex video meetings working well.

  • Keep your mic muted unless you're the one talking.
  • Be conscious of what's in the view of the camera.
  • If you need to leave the meeting for a moment, excuse yourself and turn off the camera.
  • Use the chat feature to submit questions or comments.

Social media consciousness

With sharing and re-sharing, anything you post could end up being seen by students, families or community members. Please be mindful of your posts, and remember that the public is paying us to continue to work, so be aware of the impressions your posts may leave about how you are spending work time.

Ask for help when you need it

Reach out to your supervisor if you are struggling. Tech issues? The online help desk is up and running or you can call 480-472-0044. 

Sign up for a free Webex 30-minute course to learn more best practices for working remotely.

Free online learning resource

If you have a Mesa Public Library card, now would be a great time to improve your skills using LinkedIn Learning, which is free for Mesa Public Library cardholders. The platform includes courses in topics ranging from technology and software to customer service and communication. Browse the list of current learning opportunities.

A regular subscription is $30/month, so use your library membership and save. It is also free for Chandler Public Library cardholders (listed under Lynda). 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

As required by law, Mesa Public Schools is making all employees aware of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

Medical Leave Assistance Program

The Medical Leave Assistance program enables eligible employees to receive donations of sick leave from other employees so that income can be received during a period of absence due to prolonged illness or injury. Find the form and active notices on the human resources website.

Share your creative workspaces and ideas

Have any creative home workspaces or innovative remote learning activities to share? Send them our way for consideration to publish in future Mesa Agenda newsletters or on district social media. Email your photos or videos and descriptions to news@mpsaz.org.

Christy Cuddy being interviewed

Mesa Public Schools in the news

Before spring break, Highland Arts Elementary Principal Christy Cuddy was surprised at school with the CBS 5 Pay it Forward award. Watch the segment on azfamily.com.

The school closure didn't keep longtime Hale Elementary teacher Melinda Knoles from receiving a sweet surprise from her students. She was celebrated at home with the 12 News A+ Teacher of the Week award.



Send your news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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