Essential Practice #5: Whole Child
Essential Practice #5: Whole Child
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April 6, 2020

Greetings OUSD! 


First, we want to give a major SHOUT-OUT to all of our OUSD teachers. In the midst of so much uncertainty and in very little time, you have pulled together distance-learning plans, fundraised for our families in need, and kept our students and families engaged.  THANK YOU for all that you do. We hope you are also taking care of yourself and your families physically and emotionally during this difficult time.   
The ELLMA team is committed to supporting you with guidance, resources, and thought partnership to meet the needs of our multilingual learners in any way we can.  Feel free to reach out to us! 
This month's focus is timely for our current context, the 5th and last of the Essential Practices for ELL Achievement: Address the needs of the whole child.  While always important to consider, this is especially critical during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the wellness of vulnerable families and to partner with parents and guardians to support learning at home. 
Read on to find resources available for our families in need during school closure. And make sure to read about two amazing OUSD staff:  Newcomer social worker Mika Decena and Family Engagement Partner Arcelia Gonzalez.
Stay tuned for how to support ELLs through distance learning in upcoming ELLMA Excerpts as well as the OUSD Teacher Central Website

Resources for Families

While Covid-19 has affected all of us, it has been devastating for many of our families. Our immigrant families are especially vulnerable because many don't qualify for benefits such as unemployment or the federally issued stimulus checks.  We encourage you to share these resources with your community. 

Wellness Checklist: Compiled by OEA, this is a comprehensive list of a wide range of resources. This is a great document to bookmark as it is frequently updated. 
Below we pull out two specific needs we have heard from our families and students are urgent needs: rent and cash assistance.
Click on the image above for the PDF version of the flyer in English and Spansih.
As you may know, on March 27th, the Oakland City Council passed a moratorium on evictions good through at least May 31st.  We checked in with lawyers at Centro Legal and this is what we learned:  
  • The moratorium does not mean tenants do not have to pay rent at all. Rather, it protects renters from eviction and waives any late fees.
  • While tenants may want to let their landlords know they cannot make all or any of their rent this month, they do not need to provide an explanation in writing or provide evidence.
  • Tenants should not sign anything without consulting a lawyer or tenants-rights organization.
  • There are some gray areas to this moratorium. For example, some of our students/ families sublease a room. If there are questions about how the law applies to them, they should consult one of the agencies listed below.
For more details, see Protect Oakland Renters guides in English  and Spanish. 
See here for agencies available to support tenants: 
Legal agencies: 
Non-legal Tenant Support: 
  • Causa Justa Just Cause - Tenant Hotline: (510) TENANTS (836-2687) (general advice for tenants in English & Spanish); (510) 763-5877 (main number, tenant organizing)
  • Oakland Tenants Union - (510) 704-5276 (tenant counseling)
Relief Funds:
While many in OUSD are doing crowdfunding to support their school community members, there are several organizations that have open applications for emergency cash assistance. The two below are specifically for undocumented immigrants:
Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund: created by Oakland Centro Legal de la Raza, along with community partners, this fund provides critical support to immigrant Oakland workers who have lost their jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aggressive public health measures necessary to combat the spread of this disease. There is a link to the application that can be shared directly with families in English and in Spanish
Undocuscholars has extended their support to any undocumented family in need of support during the pandemic. 
Unemployment Benefits: 
Some of our working students and families may qualify for unemployment but may need support in completing the application. Here find a guide in English and Spanish
The Unity Council is offering remote support. Support can be requested by filling out this form in English or in Spanish. or by calling 510-535-6101.
The Refugee & Asylee Assistance Program includes Community Navigators who can provide language support and interpretation, including Mam. 

Translation & Interpretation

The need for translation and interpretation has never been more acute. In addition to the OUSD translation department, you can access these supports:
  • Community Navigators can provide interpretation support in a number of our minority languages, including Mam.
  • Talking Points is a text messaging program many of our schools are using. It automatically translates two-way messages between English and the home language on record for each family. All OUSD teachers know have access to the app. For more information,  reach out to Kelleth Chinn, Coordinator of Instructional and Assessment Technology. 

In this month's ELLMA Spotlights, we feature two OUSD amazing staff who work hard to ensure we address the whole child and the whole family. Read on to learn how they do this every day and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meet Mika, Newcomer Social Worker at Bret Harte MS
At the forefront of my mind is the vulnerability of the financial situation for the students and families. Figuring out what resources are viable [to support families] and feeling the worry of not being able to control the situation,” said Mika. “It’s going back to basic needs and figuring out if these families are having their basic needs.” 

Mika thinks about one pair of students, brothers who came with their mother from Guatemala. When mom had to return suddenly some months ago, the brothers remained with a distant relation who had limited means to support two adolescent boys both materially and emotionally. With the COVID-19 crisis, the needs became more acute than ever, with the ability to meet basic needs at the forefront. Income to support rent and food purchase has dried up and Mika and her colleagues have been working to organize food delivery, apply for relief funds for the family, and maintain ongoing contact as the family experiences extreme stress around meeting their fundamental needs. 

Meet Arcelia, Family Engagement Partner


Here, Arcelia shares her own journey made possible through empowering family engagement at TCN years ago and look where she is now!
"I got involved in this work through a home visit. I had my son’s teacher come over for a home visit and we invited him to have dinner. My now 22-year-old son was in first grade when we first received that visit from his teacher. We were so happy to have him. He was so chill and down to earth, we really enjoyed it and soon we became really good friends. So I started volunteering in his classroom, until I was volunteering all day around the school. I learned a lot about families, office work, how to support my son during testing, and little by little I became the volunteer of the year, and the next year I became a full-time employee at TCN, doing attendance, I was also the office clerk, librarian, and I became the parent coordinator handling family engagement at the site." 

 Read her full interview here!

Scholarships for Teacher and Administrative Credentialing


The Oakland International High School Learning Lab is continuing their partnership with the Reach Institute to provide credentialing opportunities for 
aspiring teachers and school administrators seeking to obtain the credential necessary for those jobs. This is a unique opportunity to get credentialed in a context rooted in both OUSD and a focus on English Learners and specifically newcomer students. Scholarships of $5000 are available  to offset tuition costs for individuals who commit to continuing their work in OUSD.

ELL Ambassadors Corner

We miss you, ELL Ambassadors, and we hope you, your friends and family are doing well.

ELPAC testing is cancelled for the rest of this year. We are awaiting further guidance from the state to understand the implications and/or the possibility of make-up testing in the fall. 

And of course, unfortunately, our end of the year May 5th meeting is also cancelled.

We will be in contact again with the May newsletter. Until then, stay safe!

Help us spread the word!


ELLMA is recruiting teachers and social workers to support newcomers across OUSD.

Elementary Newcomer Teacher Leaders provide direct support to newcomers in the early grades as well as PD and systems support. Apply here.

Newcomer social workers work across OUSD’s secondary newcomer programs to address obstacles and meet basic needs to support student success in school. Part time and full time postings are available.

In addition to applying at the links above, interested candidates are encouraged to email Tom Felix.
We'd love to hear from you! Please contact Nicole with communications inquiries.
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