Birney Buzz


Families receive The Buzz via Ms. Amanda's emails before it's added to this page. If you are not receiving emails from Ms. Amanda please send her your updated email at

Older posts may reflect information that has been changed and/or updated.

Para traducir, corte y pegue en el traductor de Google / To translate, please cut and paste into Google Translate / برای ترجمه برش و چسباندن متن در Google Translate / የተቆረጠ ጽሑፍን ወደ ጎግል ተርጓሚ ለመተርጎም  

The Birney Buzz 06/09/2022
Posted on 06/10/2022

Hello Birney families,

I realize I didn’t send a ‘grown up’ Buzz last week, so here I am attaching the Birney Buzz from both last week and this week (coming home in backpacks today). There are some photos you may want to see in color, and of course all the important dates and people. This week's IB Learner List features the 'kids with the best attendance' from each classroom - understanding that attendance  is important has had to be balanced with the need to stay safe and healthy. We just want to APPRECIATE those of you who luckily were able to keep absences to a minimum. Next year, we will return to offering Saturday Schools for students to erase absences/tardies, and resume the end-of-the-year limo ride for students with perfect attendance. 

We have enjoyed opening our doors and welcoming our Birney parents back to school to see their students perform in the 3rd, 2nd and 4th graded performances, even though on Tuesday we learned that we would be required to wear masks at indoor events. We are happy to be halfway through our performances, and look forward to welcoming our 1st grade families on Monday and TK/K and 5th grade families to the promotions for our TK/K and 5th grade classes on Tuesday.  Remember, Tuesday is a half day, we dismiss for summer break at 1:30.   

It just feels right to have our parents on campus to share in the enjoyment of our end-of-the-year activities. I want to remind you that Friday we have Field Day, with the 4th grade students leading the TK/K and 1st grade classes from 12:30-1:50 and the 5th grade leading the 2nd and 3rd grade classes from 2:10-3:30. You are welcome to come – please sign in at the front gate. If you are reading this after the event, thank you so much for coming and thank you to Coach Lord and our volunteers. We hope you had a blast.

One of the best things about Spirit Week was the Tree of Gratitude Coach Lord built with kids saying what they were grateful for - if you get a chance when you are on campus take a look, it is right outside the auditorium. I will be sending the picture home next week in the last Birney Buzz.  

The Birney Buzz 05/26/2022
Posted on 05/26/2022

Hello Birney families,

Please click to see the Birney Buzz coming home in backpacks today for important news, dates and times for the last three weeks (2 weeks + 2 days) (not that we are counting!) of this school year. Most importantly, we have a 4-day weekend for Memorial Day, so there is NO SCHOOL tomorrow or Monday. Then, next week is Spirit Week, and June 10 is Field Day - all the details are in the Buzz, just a click away. Plus, the details about promotion and/or performances are there too.  

As a staff, we at Birney are in the process of absorbing the impact of the horrific, senseless tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. As with Sandy Hook ten years ago, the news comes as we prepare for a joyous time when we celebrate being here, at school (Sandy Hook happened right as we went on winter break). This time the tragedy occurs as we begin to welcome parents for end-of-the-year events – and all the while, we monitor our emails for news from the Health Department advising us to return to masking indoors due to the Covid case uptick in San Diego. 

It is certainly a tough time we are living through. So far, as a staff, we are reassuring students that they are safe and loved, and continuing to provide an environment where kids can forget their troubles and enjoy each other at school. I recognize that you are concerned about the safety and well-being of your own children. School safety and well-being is on all of our minds right now.  As the school year winds down over the next two weeks and two days, we will grapple with the impact of this horrific tragedy on our community and take steps to reassure students, staff and parents/caregivers that Birney is a safe and comfortable space for us all.

In addition to the resources the superintendent sent out to all SDUSD families, I will include these IB crisis response resources from the IBO which serve to remind us of the crises that currently exist all over the world that impact our children. Dr. Jackson, our superintendent, wrote, “The APA recommends honesty with children – acknowledging that bad things do happen but reassuring them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe.” You may also want to read the article from Common Sense Media about how to talk to kids about school shootings, recommending an age-based approach for addressing ‘scary stuff’ in a developmentally appropriate manner. 

On anoither note, we are PLANNING FOR NEXT YEAR:

Please let me know if your family is planning to return to Birney by filling out this form – this will help us know how many spots we have open at each grade level. We understand some of you may be planning to relocate over the summer and we wish you well. We appreciate those of you who are returning for putting your faith, and your children, in our Birney IB World School – thank you!

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 05/06/2022
Posted on 05/10/2022

Hello Birney families,

The Buzz is comes home in backpacks – and I forgot the most important announcement – the return of FAMILY FRIDAY!!! See below!

Sharing that our middle school feeder Roosevelt is having their IBFest May 10, here is the flier for that .  

We are opening up our school for the tail end of the year to celebrate our students:

  • NEW NEWS!  THIS DIDN’T MAKE IT INTO THE BUZZ THIS WEEK! This month is Get Caught Reading Month, which we will celebrate at our one and only Family Friday of the year on May 20, from 2:30-3:35
    • We will start out at 2:30 in the auditorium with principal updates and news from the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation/Birney PTA. 
    • You will get to meet or hear about some of the key people who work at Birney to support teachers and students. 
    • At 3:00 you will go out to the playground to meet up with your student’s class and catch them reading. 
  • May 21 (Saturday):
  • Then, the week of May 31 (Tues) to Friday, June 3, we will have our BIRNEY SPIRIT WEEK featuring a wellness theme. We wanted to wait till after state testing to do spirit week since it can be distracting. The themes will be announced in the next Buzz to come home.
  • June 7-14: At the end of the year we have traditionally invited parents to a performance by each grade level.  This year, we have not been able to use the auditorium as much as we like, so Mr. Evans has instead worked with each class to teach music, so we will have some really cool songs ready to perform for you.  The schedule for these end-of-the-year performances is in the Birney Buzz this week, but also here:



Tuesday, June 7, 10:45-11:35: 3rd Grade

Thursday, June 9, 10:45-11:35: 2nd Grade

Thursday, June 9, 2:45-3:35: 4th Grade

Monday, June 13, 10:25-11:00: 1st Grade


Tuesday, June 14

Kindergarten: 10:15

5TH Grade 12:30-1:30


I know you are as excited as we are to see the end of this school year, to welcome summer break and to look forward to a more normal school year in 22-23.  Thank you for all your syupport and lovely Teacher Appreciation Week messages and gifts.  I cannot say enough how much I appreciate every single member of my Birney staff - they all go above and beyond to make this amazing school hum the way it does.  And we couldn't do it without your support, so thank you!

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 04/29/22
Posted on 05/02/2022

Hello Birney families,

Here is the electronic version of the Birney Buzz  coming home in backpacks today.  Clicking on the electronic version link will bring you to the link for tomorrow's Parent Night Out - 4:30-8:30 - we are having a playground playdate and dinner for the kiddos - there are a few spaces still for you to sign up so you and your significant other can have a couple of hours to yourselves ;)

I recently received a couple of other helpful fliers I will attach here:

School on Wheels is a free tutoring service School on Wheels with resources for all students experiencing homelessness, whether they are involved in tutoring already or not. 

The SDUSD is recruiting for paraeducators - badly needed - starting pay is almost $20/hr.  Here is that flier. 

In the next couple of weeks, we will be relaxing the distancing rule at lunch so all our students can sit at tables - that means there will be 5-6 students at each table and we will be able to end most of the picnic style meals.  Given that, we will see how it works and may be able to reconsider service of meals, changing from the bagged lunches to actual meals.  We were unable to consider actual meals when we were requiring the little ones to travel so far with their meal.

By next week, we will have confirmed the dates for our end-of-the-year activities - performances, awards, field day, promotions and so on, so be sure to check the Buzz for those dates. It is so exciting to be nearing the end of this very challenging year for all of us - on the one hand, we got to return to in-person school, which was so needed for both the students and the parents.  On the other hand, so many things were NOT the same, and this was frustrating for all of us.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued cooperation and patience - everyone has been working so hard this year to make the school year feel right for our students. Won't you remind your student(s) that we rely on them to treat each other and Birney staff with respect and kindness - we are not like family, with whom we can joke and tease relentlessly. Instead, words and actions can hurt others needlessly and it is wise to be cautiously kind to all.   

We really appreciate it when you let us know if your child is going to be absent, make your medical appointments after school hours, or leave for that trip at dismissal instead of during the school day.  By the same token, we also appreciate it when you treat the school and its people (parents, students, staff) with respect and model the behavior you would expect to see at an elementary school - we know that tempers can flare and that mornings and afternoons around Birney can be frustrating with the traffic and all - but showing your child(ren) how to take a deep  breath and stay calm is worth so much in this day and age.

We will have some delightful opportunities in the coming weeks to open our doors again and welcome you onto campus for special events - we will enjoy having you be part of the school again - and we thank you in advance for treating us and each other with the grace and respect we all deserve - we have all been sheltered from each other for a long time, and we are now tasked with remembering how to get along in the world, minding our p's and q's, and observing the Golden Rule we learned about in primary grades - treat others the way you want to be treated!. 

Ms. Amanda  

Hello Birney family and friends,

We are looking at a 4-day weekend from tomorrow through Monday – I hope you have a wonderful time with your family!  So NO SCHOOL FRIDAY or MONDAY!  We will see you Tuesday! Here is the latest copy of the Birney Buzz sent home in backpacks today! 

As you know, since you received the email from the district, this week was a huge change for all schools with the lifting of the mask requirement when outside. While state law requires that we remain masked inside classrooms, bathrooms and other buildings at school, we may now remove masks when we are outside. The masking requirement for outside was cancelled effective 2/16.  However, it is extremely interesting how comfortable we have become wearing our masks – I would say still 75-80% of staff and students continued to wear masks outside today. We are expecting change to be slow, and we are promoting tolerance with kids and adults either way. If you feel comfortable with your mask on when you are outside, more power to you! Many of us have immuno-compromised or older relatives in our bubble, so we may feel the need to stay safer. No worries! Each teacher will work with their class to practice masking and  unmasking routines and procedures. Parents can help (especially for kindergarteners) by communicating to the teacher(s) your preferences so that we know what you want.  

On another note, things are ramping up for the 2022-2023 school year, starting with Prime Time – see below:


·         2022-23 PrimeTime Online Application will be available beginning Monday, March 7, 2022, at 6:00 a.m.  Please visit the Extended Learning website for more information and see the parent flyers below.

·         2022-23 PrimeTime Application Parent Flyer English Spanish 

·         If any other language is needed, please contact our department at

We will be enrolling for the new year after spring break, around late April or early May, when all our new year materials are ready. If our conditions continue to improve, I will resume some form of school tours in May also.  Let your friends and neighbors know. That’s enough from me, stay well,

Ms. Amanda

Greetings Birney friends and families,

I am looking forward to returning to Birney on Monday after a week of isolating at home due to testing positive for covid last Friday.  It was a mild case, more like a cold, but I had to stay isolated the full 10 days anyway!  I appreciate the support of all Birney staff and send my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Mead who stepped into the principal designee role with her recently acquired administrative credential. She did a great job, but misses her students and is ready to return to the classroom on Monday!  It is looking like the omicron surge is waning.  As of today, this was the first week of 2022 that we had LESS than 5 positive cases reported to us, which is great news!  It is also the first week our absences have started to look more ‘normal’ for the time of year compared to other February absence rates.  I am looking forward to better times ahead.

As I mention in the Birney Buzz this week, this is the time of year for our annual Run for the Green, our Birney jogathon and spring fundraiser.  We are so grateful to all of you for your support with our Fall Fundraiser which raised just shy of $30,000, and our December Big Give, which raised over $35,000.  The Run for the Green is our spring fundraiser, representing the lion’s share of the funds raised to support our Specials and our IB Program.  Our goal is to raise $52,000 over the next 4-5 weeks using the Pledgestar platform where families will request the sponsorships of relatives, friends and co-workers for their student(s).  Students will run during their Specials period the week of March 14-18. In the past, RFG was a huge festive afternoon with a ton of families visiting to watch and cheer the kids on – it was a lot of fun, and we miss it.  BUT we had an equally successful and fun time last spring by stretching the event over a week and just having 2 classes at a time running around the joint-use field track. We will invite families to come up to school on the day of their child(ren)’s run(s) to support them loudly as they run.  We are also inviting you to sign on to Pledgestar and set up accounts for your child(ren), adding your email contacts so that Pledgestar can then send out the emails requesting support for the jogathon. Stay tuned for news of other ways to support Run for the Green and your child(ren). 

More thanks go out to the Foundation for a very successful first annual Birney Hive Hunt – it was a great event and a lovely way to get our bees out into the University Heights neighborhood to support our local businesses. Some of you have inquired about the various contests that were part of the scavenger hunt, so I am including that information below, along with a link to the photos and videos that we have been given permission to share – they are adorable!ive Hunt.  H

Eco Boats Rental Raffle  Maizel2 (Maive M.)

Race Winners & Runner-upsK - 1st: GoodinHuntingK - Mahea G.; ThunderBees1 – Olivia P. & Adrian H.; Shine Bright K – Parker P.; TeamLinesK - Kit L. (Best Costume); 

2nd – 3rd: Mysterious MacKinnon Insect Society3 - Sadie & Moira M.; Veeh-lociraptors3 - Leo & Gavin V.; What’s The Buzz2 – Wyatt L.; Don’t Worry, BEE happy!2 - Lulu P. & Leo K. (Best Costume)

4th-5th: BirneyHive5 - Dailey D. (&Best Costume); Beesonlookout5 - Erin Z.; BumbleLyonz4 - Westley V.

Draw-Your-Dream-House Winners by grade (for bonus points): K: Lightning Strikers 2 - Maisie G.; 1st : BeeMagical1  - Aiyana G.; 2nd: Minecrafters2 - Luca V.; 3rd: Veeh-lociraptors3 - Leo V.; 4th: Buzzingers4 - Izzy B.; 5th: Birney bees5 - Juniper W.

We have some cool photos and videos from the race.  Click on the link ( to view some of them (with permission from the parents).  We will remove the shared folder by March 1st

Finally, thanks to all of you who sent in kindness wishes for our Kindness Challenge – Monday 2/14 is the end of the Kindness Challenge but not the end of kindness as a principle to live by, may we all continue to be kind to one another!

Stay well, take care and as always, a simple reply to this email will get you directly to my inbox. 

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 01/27/2022
Posted on 02/01/2022

Hello Birney families and friends,

Here is the latest version of the Grown-Up Buzz and I am attaching the kid’s version  in this email but it is also coming home in backpacks tomorrow. 

Here are several things going on at Birney:

  1. The Lost and Found Challenge this year has been how to display the coats, sweaters, water bottles and lunch boxes so that you, the parents who care, can see if your child’s lost whatever is there.  Just watching the kids pick at the top of the pile and then abandon the search so many times was so frustrating!   SO … we decided to hang everything that was piled up in the boxes on the main gate fence and since we did, just this afternoon, we have had several delighted kiddos claim their loved and lost item.  PLEASE stop by tomorrow or over the weekend – we will leave the stuff up through the weekend – if you see something your kid(s) have lost, claim it, if not leave it alone!
  2. The Great Kindness Challenge 2022 kicked off on Monday, and we will stretch it out this year till February 14, hopefully making the Birney version of Valentine’s Day more about being kind than hearts and candy.  Students have a checklist of acts of kindness they can perform.  We have a giant heart on the playground we are going to build over the next couple of weeks. 
  3. The Birney Hive Hunt Scavenger Hunt now has over 60 teams descending on the University Heights neighborhood and businesses this Saturday, January 29 from 1-4 pm.  Afterwards, we will have some food trucks in the Birney driveway and we will open the campus for masked-up kids to play (please commit to watching your kids, we will have minimal staff on site to supervise).  Details about signing up and more are in the attached Buzz , just a click away!
  4. Last week we implemented the County's Group Contact Tracing Model with a letter I am sending home today. We will continue to use this model while our school has higher weekly case counts, and this week we have returned to seeing over 5 positive cases reported so we are still recommending that every student get tested on Thursdays.  Of course, you are free to opt-out once the case rate dies down.  
    • The SDCOE COVID 19 Decision Tree was updated again on 1/24/22. 
      • A significant change was in the verbage used: Students should get tested on days 3, 4 or 5 (instead of the previous word “must”). The County describes it as more than a recommendation, less than a requirement, more like an expectation. The letter was updated with this new language. 
      • An additional option for the Group Tracing Letter or Model is to notify individual or specific classrooms of students who are exposed. We have updated the Group Contact Tracing Letter to include this option.
    • The Contact Tracing Team continues to assess each positive student on a case by case basis and school by school basis. We will continue to communicate with school sites regarding individual cases. 
    • For all other questions/letters or versions please ask your health office staff or our centralized contact tracing staff at
  5. Finally, a plea for parents to check out what their students are wearing to school.  Please remember we eat outside, so they will need a jacket.  Please remember they move a LOT and need giod shoes with closed toes.  Finally, please make sure their clothing is appropriate for elementary school - t-shirts with appropriate messages, shorts and skirts that do not expose underwear (or appropriate short legggings can be worn underneath) and tops which cover shoulders and midriffs. 

OK, it's late and I'm tired - please stay well, take care, be kind and give each other grace! I hope all the links work this time!

Ms. Amanda 

The Birney Buzz 01/20/2022
Posted on 01/21/2022

Hello Birney families and friends,

Here is the latest copy of the Birney Buzz – including a QR code for you to easily sign up for the 1st annual ‘Birney Hive Hunt’, or scavenger hunt, which is happening January 29 from 1-4 pm. Join us for an afternoon of fun while also contributing to the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation.

A quick glance at the attendance table will show you what we are up against right now with this omicron variant of Covid-19. Although not as high as the first week back from break when we had almost 500 absences, we are still experiencing unprecedented absence rates of over 400 in a week, which is hard to believe, especially for the school always #1 in attendance in the San Diego High Cluster! 

In this current surge of the omicron variant, all systems have been stretched to manage the number of positive cases being identified through testing or symptoms. Last week, we learned of 23 different positive cases among our students, mostly identified outside of school (only 2 cases were identified via our Thursday covid testing procedure, and no students tested positive at school this morning). The County Health department continues to revise its decision tree to adjust to this new spike in covid cases and, currently, we are being asked to share this letter with you is we are aware of over 5 positive cases at school.  In addition, the weekly letter to non-close contacts is attached and a link to the county's newest decision tree.

Incidentally, you may be wondering what the construction across the street on Park is going to look like, so I am attaching an article which has images of what the outside of the “Winslow” is going to look like – especially for those kiddos who are fascinated by construction. 

That’s it for me – TGIF! Remember as always a simple email to gets you to my inbox, if you don’t hear back from me, please try again!

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 01/13/2022
Posted on 01/13/2022

Hello Birney families and friends,

This week’s Birney Buzz is attached  and should be coming home in backpacks. 

First, remember Monday is a federal holiday to commemorate Martin Luther King. We will resume classes Tuesday. 

Next, you can register NOW for the January 29th Birney Hive Hunt Scavenger Hunt from 1 pm to 4 pm. This is our first annual, but we think it is going to become a lasting tradition. The Friends of Alice Birney Elementary Foundation is hosting the first annual Birney Scavenger Hunt race and fundraiser around University Heights.  Using a phone, teams will walk around UH and solve riddles, perform photo challenges and race to various locations to earn points. Check-in begins at 12:30 pm in front of Birney. You must check-in to receive the event code and be eligible for prizes. Additional information on Scavenger Hunt Flyer.

See the Buzz for new mask guidance.  We are expecting to get a shipment of adult and child-sized N95 and KF94 masks which we will distribute at the entry gates for any child requesting. Additional changes due to the Omicron surge include the temporary accepting of at-home antigen test results for return to school. The changes are welcome news with the lines being as long as they are to get tested.

One request of the parents of upper grade (4th/5th) students: please do continue to fill out the symptom checklist every day – we have more if you need them at every gate – the parent needs to sign it and put the phone number where you can be reached if needed during the day – our gate monitors at the upper grade gate have observed to me that students who do not bring completed checklists get sassy with them when they ask for it. Better you, the parent, do the checklist, please! I acknowledge that the amount of paper used for this is problematic, and I also acknowledge that there is a way to do this online, but we do not have the staff to go online daily to check completion and follow through with those who did not complete, so I have chosen to continue with the paper version which can easily be checked at the gate. Please ensure that your student(s) have the paper out ready for the gate monitor to check.  

Finally, thank you a thousand times for your support, grace and patience as we try to keep schools open despite the craziness. It is only because you are on board with us, you cooperate with us on our health and safety guidelines and you work with us to keep everyone safe. I appreciate that during this very stressful time, everyone is trying to treat each other well, giving space and grace when we communicate together. For Birney staff, the work right now is incredibly challenging compared to our ‘normal’ – so many more layers of complexity fill our days - and yet having school open and seeing our students thrive together when they are here is worth it!

Take care, Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 01/07/2022
Posted on 01/07/2022

Hello Birney families and friends,

Happy New Year!  As we close our first week back in 2022, I want to reach out to say what a pleasure it has been to welcome students back to in-person instruction with the full measure of our health and safety guidelines continuing to guide our behavior. I also want to thank you for your cooperation with our health and safety measures as well as your patience and support for us as we encounter yet another January in a pandemic. It is with this spirit of partnership that I reach out with what I believe to be the most current state of affairs.

We are continuing to rapid test for covid every Thursday. If you have not opted in to the testing but wish to, you can access the forms here or request them in the office.  If you wish to opt your child out, let me know via email so I can take them off the list. There is an extensive decision tree we use to determine next steps for any and all exposures to covid. If your child tests positive for covid or is exposed to covid, we are currently accepting rapid antigen test results as proof of a negative test until 1/27/2022. In this week’s Buzz, there are some reminders about safety amidst this current covid Omicron surge. Any change in the health and safety protocols will be announced via email first. 

Some of you have asked about masking policy changes. There are no changes in the masking protocol – we are still requiring masks inside and outside except when eating/drinking outside. While there is a recommendation to opt for a surgical mask which fits the face snugly, and there is a supply of KF94 masks for students to opt for if wanted or needed, there has been no change in the original mask protocol and policy. We continue to follow the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health, which may differ from those of the CDC, and the County Office of Education. Our own nursing department is closely monitoring the current cases and hospitalizations, and our district leadership is currently in daily contact with all concerned to determine next steps. 

This week’s Birney Buzz  is coming home in backpacks today, but I am attaching it for your convenience since there are some links you may wish to click on. I have included the after-school class information (all links to access registration information). The ASE schedule linked at the top is an easy one-stop shop to see prices and the number of classes for each offering. Classes are filling up quickly, so act now! All classes are dismissed through the front gate of the school. Please contact the vendors directly, we in the office are not affiliated with the after-school classes.

Here I’m putting in a plug for the 1st annual Birney Scavenger Hunt. 


JANUARY 29, 2022

1-4 PM


Stay tuned for details next week, but calendar it, it sounds like a lot of fun.

If you have questions or concerns, simply send me an email and you will get to my inbox.  If you don’t receive a reply within 12 hours, send it again – sometimes it slips below the bottom of my screen and gets lost! 


The Birney Buzz MORE 12/07/2021
Posted on 12/08/2021

Hello Birney friends and families,

Things I forgot to put in the Birney Buzz and some reminders…

ATTENDANCE: Please call in your absences to (619) 497-3500.  It is essential to only be absent when sick or leaving for medical appointments – absences for other reasons should be avoided. Birney teachers work hard to catch up with students who are absent due to covid-like symptoms or other illness, which is happening a lot more than usual, so absences for non-medical reasons are unexcused and creating an undue burden on teachers who take their responsibility to educate students very seriously. Every day at Birney is planned in detail for your children, there is a lot happening each day which is impossible to make up, and when a child misses instruction it may affect way more than just that day. It makes sense to make it up when a child is compelled to stay home for medical reasons, but otherwise we appreciate your support in sending your students to school unless illness/medical appointments prevents it. 

WEATHER: Happy Monday! Time to bundle up! It looks like we are finally confronting the winter season with rain forecast a couple of times this week (Tuesday & Thursday), and very cold temperatures (for San Diego, anyway). I want to remind you that our students will need lots of clothing layers for school with the colder weather upon us. Since we are still observing the pandemic health and safety guidelines, we all eat outside because our masks are off and we keep the windows and doors of the classrooms open as much as possible for air circulation.

FUNDRAISER: Thursday’s Birney’s Big Give will begin bright and early at 7:00 am. Thursday morning and last until 7:00 pm. – our goal is to raise $35,000, so our work as a community is to spread the word far and wide, to relatives, work friends, benefactors, matching donors and so on. Please share the Big Give donation link with your community of friends, coworkers and relatives far and wide so we can meet our goal and guarantee our students Specials (Art, Dance, Garden, and Spanish) all year long. 
Donations can be made:
In Person: 
8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. & 3:20 – 3:50 p.m. In front of Birney. 
At Birney Office: All day – envelope drop off to FOABE mailbox
On-line: Go to link in Buzz or Parent Organization Announcement or click DONATE on FOABE website.

SHOE COLLECTION: The Shoes for Schools collection by the office is getting BIGGER, so we have extended the collection through December 14.  We are collecting gym shoes, casual dress shoes, leather shoes and boots.

BEDTIME STORIES: This Friday is our Holiday Bedtime Stories via Zoom. This is a Birney tradition where kids typically would bring a blanket and come to school in their PJs for milk and cookies while volunteers read their favorite kids’ stories.  This year, for the second year in a row, it will be via zoom. Here is the link.  Meeting ID: 845 7518 3001, Passcode: 921292
Bedtime Stories starts at 6:30. 

MERCHANDISE SALE: PTA will be selling those coveted Birney t-shirts at the front of the school this Wednesday. Just in time for the holidays!

Merchandise Stand open this WEDNESDAY
December 15th by the main gates at 1:30pm

LOST AND FOUND: The lost-and-found stand is full! We will wheel it out in front of school on Wednesday at dismissal as well. 

The Birney Buzz 12/02/2021
Posted on 12/03/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

I hope your Thanksgiving week was wonderful and that you and your family enjoyed some down time. I also hope you were able to stay healthy over the week, although we at Birney are steeling ourselves for some positive covid cases to pop up over the next few days as a result of the travel that may have occurred over the Thanksgiving break. 

It is on that note that I share this Letter to Non Close Contacts 12-01-2021.pdf announcing that there has been a positive case identified at Birney, and the contact tracers have already been in touch with those who might have come in close contact (less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes. If you do not hear from the school or county contact tracers, you don’t need to worry.

We anticipate there will be a spike in covid cases after the winter holiday also. It may be that we avoid any further problems with the increasing vaccinations but with the announcement of the Omicron variant, I am not too optimistic. I urge everyone to maintain vigilance over health and safety protocols such as masking, distancing, handwashing and the like – Birney staff continues to go above and beyond the district’s guidelines to keep us all safe. 

In the meantime, I do ask that you contact us when your child is absent. Absences that are unverified will eventually be converted into unexcused absences, which are considered truancies after a certain number have been incurred. Unexcused absences are something to avoid. It is important that we keep track currently, especially since absences have increased so much due to the health and safety guidelines asking that you keep your student(s) at home when they have symptoms that are anything like COVID.. 

The newest Birney Buzz  is coming home in backpacks – check out the Parent’s page – our Birney’s Big Give is next Thursday, and we are looking for businesses to sponsor our Big Give, as well as those that match donations. The Big Give is a great time to reach out to all your friends and relatives to donate online. We will remind you throughout the day, please be patient with us! Our goal is $35,000 by 7:00 pm. So far this year we are on track with our fundraising to provide Specials and other support to our IB Program. Thank you for all your support during the Big Give. 

Check out the student page to see a naming contest for our first annual University Heights Scavenger Hunt on Saturday, January 29 from 2-5 pm. It will be a $40 entry fee for each team – it’s going to be a lot of fun!

In the meantime, take care,

The Birney Buzz 11/18/2021
Posted on 11/18/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

Here is the latest Birney Buzz, coming home in backpacks soon. A reminder that tonight is a Birney Dinner Night at Kairoa on Park Blvd in University Heights - hope to see you there (they promised to make sure they have plenty of staff so the waits won't be as long)! Look for Ms. Mindy and helpers this Saturday morning at Twiggs for the Birney farmstand.  

Today is make-up picture day, and ALSO the day we will take the “cap and gown” portraits for 5th graders who will be promoted to middle school in June.  The cap and gown pictures will accompany their promotion certificate. So today is a good day to be at school for 5th graders. 

I hope you had the opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher for an informative report card conference. Remember this is just the FIRST of 3 report cards, and we have 16 weeks between them – lots of time to work towards our goals.  We will meet with you again in March, with another week of modified days, where we dismiss at 1:30 pm, from March 21-25, for the second round of parent-teacher conferences.

Next week we will be closed for Thanksgiving – I hope you enjoy a week of rest and relaxation – I know Birney staff will! 

Take care,

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 11/17/2021
Posted on 11/18/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

Here is the latest Birney Buzz, coming home in backpacks soon. A reminder that tonight is a Birney Dinner Night at Kairoa on Park Blvd in University Heights - hope to see you there (they promised to make sure they have plenty of staff so the waits won't be as long)! Look for Ms. Mindy and helpers this Saturday morning at Twiggs for the Birney farmstand.  

Today is make-up picture day, and ALSO the day we will take the “cap and gown” portraits for 5th graders who will be promoted to middle school in June.  The cap and gown pictures will accompany their promotion certificate. So today is a good day to be at school for 5th graders. 

I hope you had the opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher for an informative report card conference. Remember this is just the FIRST of 3 report cards, and we have 16 weeks between them – lots of time to work towards our goals.  We will meet with you again in March, with another week of modified days, where we dismiss at 1:30 pm, from March 21-25, for the second round of parent-teacher conferences.

Next week we will be closed for Thanksgiving – I hope you enjoy a week of rest and relaxation – I know Birney staff will! 

Take care,

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 11/12/2021
Posted on 11/15/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

Thanks to the 68% of you who thought it best to send your students to school for a regular day of learning. We had 350 students today who had a lot of fun with art, science, math and other cool stuff.  Most of the students missing were predominantly upper graders, but all classes had at least 3 absences. It is normal to see absences tick up when there is a Thursday holiday - but this year due to the concern about labor shortages (lack of subs) the superintendent offered the mental health day some of you took advantage of. At Birney, we typically do not have poor attendance, so over the years it has sufficed to remind families that we have a regular day of school and we see our kids show up in class.  I am proud to say that all of our classrooms were staffed with Birney teachers and student teachers, all non-classroom teachers were also present supporting the learning, and I know they had a lot of material which engaged and stimulated the students to learn. Birney staff is highly trained, well-planned and professionally prepared for whatever comes their way (such as a worldwide pandemic) - there is no downtime in their classrooms, so I imagine it was hard for them to have to re-design or reconfigure what they had planned for today with the need for all their students to receive that instruction. I hope we never have to do that again - we are not childcare providers, we are educators.

The Birney Buzz is coming home today in backpacks. Remember that next week is 1:30 dismissal of students for parent-teacher conferences. See the Buzz for some do's and don'ts for conference week.  Remember to pick up your students unless they are in an after-school care program or class, they don't llike being left in the office. 

A couple of announcements I did not include might be of interest to you. After we are done with the Scholastic Book Fair at Birney tomorrow morning between 9 and 12, you might want to head over to the World Peace Day Celebration  at the United Nations building in Balboa Park. I also neglected to include the November 18 Family Dinner Night at Kairoa on Park Blvd.  

Have a  great weekend, as always a simple email to will find you in my inbox.  

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz plus 11/09/2021
Posted on 11/10/2021

Hello Birney friends and families,

Adding on to the earlier Buzz…couple corrections!

  • School Picture Make-Up Day is Thursday, NOVEMBER 18. We will take care of:
    • Students who were absent on our original picture day. 
    • ‘Cap-and-gown’ pictures of the 5th graders for end-of-the-year promotion. 
    • Students whose original pictures were not satisfactory.  How do I know that?  You go to

      and enter the code FE122021  Or you can call them at 1 (877) 515-1447 if you need help. 
  • Next week?  1:30 dismissal, Minimum Days for Parent-Teacher Conferences – all next week – it’s not you, it’s me!  Don’t look through your Buzz emails for where I first announced it, you are right, I had not explicitly announced it. I know teachers sent home spots for you to sign up, but that isn’t a clear announcement giving you the heads up that your kid(s) get out of school daily next week at 1:30. I apologize!

For those of you astrologically minded, Mercury must be in deep, deep retrograde – both the superintendent and I have had communication difficulties the last few weeks! I’ll blame it on the pandemic disruption to school over the last year and a half – it’s thrown us all off in so many ways.


  • Saturday’s Scholastic Book Fair, Saturday 11/13/2021, 9-12 at Birney by the library  (a great way to kick off that holiday shopping and help raise money for your school library) ends at noon, not 1. 

Thank you all for your support and patience,

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 11/09/2021
Posted on 11/09/2021

Hello Birney families and friends!

It’s great to be back after my long weekend away – I thank Ms. Mead for stepping in to my shoes and doing a great job in my absence.  And wow, what a weekend of emails – our district’s intentions being honestly sincere, I think, the various communications over the weekend certainly created a great deal of confusion for ALL of us.  The first email from the Superintendent came Thursday evening announcing a proposal going before the schoolboard to close down schools.  The last email from the Superintendent walking back the proposal to close schools, sent Friday at 6:30 pm, is here:

Students, parents, friends, and colleagues: We are writing to follow up on the communication sent yesterday regarding a proposal to make next Friday, November 12, a non-instructional day. We’ve heard from many families that appreciated the opportunity to focus on mental health and wellness; others expressed concerns about their ability to find adequate childcare solutions on such short notice. After careful consideration, we have decided to keep our classrooms open next Friday. All students will be welcome at school on November 12We will continue to offer students the chance to use that day to rest and recharge. Families that choose to keep their students out of school for a mental health day on November 12 will have their absence marked as “excused.” Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact us. Your input helped us arrive at what we believe is the best possible option for all families. We continue to look for new ways to recognize the importance of mental health.   Sincerely, Dr. Lamont Jackson, Interim Superintendent , San Diego Unified

Let me be clear – as I was last Thursday – we will have classes on Friday, November 12 and we have the Scholastic Bookfair here at school on Saturday, November 13, in the morning through 1:00 pm.  While I appreciate our superintendent’s concerns for the mental health of both our families and our staff, there are opportunities galore for ‘wellness and mental health’ coming up, so we are committed to Friday being a full day of instruction. We are aware that other schools across the district are making their own decisions based on their predicted staffing.  We at Birney do not predict a staffing shortage, thankfully, so we will proceed as normal with our last full day of instruction before the Thanksgiving Break, since next week we dismiss students at 1:30 so we can hold parent-teacher conferences with all of you. We will work with students who do stay out of school this Friday next week to ensure that they make up the work they missed.  

Here is the calendar:

Thursday, November 11 is a holiday for Veteran’s Day – no school - enjoy a day off school.

Friday, November 12 is a full SCHOOL DAY with instruction that has already been planned at each grade level.  Our district announced they will excuse absences BUT our teachers, having already planned for the day, WILL BE TEACHING according to their plans.  If you do indeed decide to take the excused absence, your student will still be required to make up missed work.  Some schools across the district are experiencing staff shortages, but our staff at Birney are dedicated to their students and will be showing up for them, or will have made arrangements.  All students in attendance will have a full day of instruction in their classrooms – thanks to our Birney teachers and staff for their dedication.    

Monday, November 15-Friday, November 19:  Parent-Teacher Conference week – 1:30 dismissal EVERY DAY for conferences.  Students will be dismissed early so that teachers have time to conference with every family. Both SAYSanDiego and PrimeTime after-school programs will be functioning from 1:30 on every day.  We also have the OpenMinds folks running an after-school Drawing and Book-making camp from 1:40-3:40 pm for $32 daily. Register through email at or call (619) 665-1264.

Monday, November 22-Friday, November 26: THANKSGIVING BREAK, NO SCHOOL!  A full week off means LOTS of opportunities for wellness, mental health and gratitude. Enjoy the week with your family!

Monday, November 29-Friday, December 17 – 3 full weeks of instruction – as we start the 2nd reporting period, these 3 weeks of instruction are key, we hope our students’ families will commit to getting them here.

Monday, December 20-Friday, December 31 - Winter Break, LOTS MORE opportunities for wellness, mental health and gratitude. Enjoy this time with your family.

Monday, January 3: school reopens with full days of instruction again, except Wednesdays, which is our minimum day

Please call in to school when your child is absent - (619) 497-3500. 

Hope this helps - the Birney Buzz will be sent home in backpacks tomorrow, enjoy your holiday Thursday, see you Friday!

The Birney Buzz 11/04 & 05/2021
Posted on 11/05/2021



11/05/2021 Happy Guy Fawkes Day, Birney Bees!

In my home country of England, kids are excitedly putting the last touches on their 'Guy' and getting ready to burn him on top of the bonfire before the fireworks this evening.  Isn't it interesting how our celebrations vary around the world? England's fireworks celebrate the British government NOT getting blown up - yours celebrate getting rid of the British government!

You may have missed the little email that came from the district yesterday evening.  Here it is:

Students, parents, friends and colleagues:

After much consultation with our school leaders, we have decided to propose cancelling all classes next Friday, November 12, giving families the opportunity to focus on their own mental health and wellness. As a reminder, schools and district offices are already closed Thursday, November 11, to honor our military veterans. This proposed change would make Friday a non-instructional day.

The last 20 months of the pandemic have challenged all of us in different ways. We have heard from many parents and students that their mental health has suffered. Staff has worked tirelessly to provide the best learning environment for all students, while continuing to operate  in the middle of a pandemic. That is why we have decided to take the extraordinary step of providing every family with additional recovery time next week.  Some outstanding resources have been provided by our team to help families focus on their mental health and well-being at this difficult time. They are available on our website. Any final plan must be approved by the Board of Education at its meeting next Tuesday, November 9. We plan to propose the following recommendations - with additional information on childcare, food services, and scheduling available at the time of the meeting. Staff members should expect additional information before the meeting from their directors.

  • Students and staff will have a non-instructional day on Friday, November 12.
  • One instructional day will be added to the end of the year to account for this change.
  • We are currently working on childcare options for families who need support on Friday.
  • A reduced version of our school-day meal service will also be available.
  • Athletic playoff games will continue as scheduled with no change.
  • Additional details and final plan subject to Board approval next Tuesday, November 9.


Although we hope some families will take advantage of this additional opportunity to focus on their own health and well-being, we hope many will use this day to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. As you know, the federal government has recommended all school-age children get the COVID-19 vaccine, and San Diego Unified will require all students ages 16 and older to be vaccinated in order to continue learning in person. Please take advantage of this opportunity to get your whole family vaccinated next Friday, November 12. More information is available on our website at

While I will never turn down the opportunity to enjoy a 4-day weekend, I realize this is sudden news and may be inconvenient for many of you.  I will keep you posted on what 'childcare options' as well as meal service possibilities are proposed. The decision will be voted on by the school board, next Tuesday, but it is likely that Friday, November 12 is a non-instructional day not, as the email says, for our 'wellness' but instead due to labor shortages across the district.  The threat of gravely under-staffed schools caused by district employees calling out of work is what is truly behind this decision. Still, wellness is important, and if so many district employees are feeling the need for a mental health day to the extent that it would jeopardize a day of learning with sufficient supervision of students, perhaps this is the right choice, better than crowding students together due to lack of staff and jeopardizing their health.  

If the Board votes to close schools on 11/12, we will reschedule our make-up picture day.  That link in my last email was a dud - I am link-challenged.  So the code you need is FE122021, and you use it at using your email.  Their phone number is 1-877-515-1447.  You have all the information now!

Take care, have a great weekend, 

Ms. Amanda


11/04/2021 Hello Birney families and friends!

I can't believe it’s November already!  We are at the end of our first reporting period tomorrow, so teachers are gathering their evidence for the first report card and looking forward to your virtual fall parent-teacher conference with them. This is our first opportunity to spend some time with you to talk about your child – it is a very important meeting which I urge you to prioritize – open up your Zoom on time, prepare your questions, be responsive to what they show you, enjoy their positive comments and ask how you can support your child with their struggles. 

This next week we are celebrating Veteran’s Day with a school holiday – I hope you have a chance to rest with your kids and salute the veterans you know.  [SEE UPDATE ABOVE] The next day, Friday, November 12, IS A SCHOOL DAY for which we take attendance.  It is also make-up picture day with Jostens coming to retake pictures.  If you need to check the photos to make sure you like them or ask for a retake, the code can be accessed here on the flier.  You’ll need the code near the date to find your pictures. The next day, Saturday, November 13, we will have a one-day Scholastic Book Fair on campus, open to all of you to come browse and pick up some early holiday gifts, or celebrate your student’s fall report card.  More details to come next week.

Because of Veteran’s Day being a day off, our covid testing day was changed to Monday, November 8.  Students will be testing between noon and 3:00 pm.  Those of you who have been asking due to performances or other obligations that are requiring a negative test should have the results back in time.

Here is this week’s Birney Buzz, coming home in backpacks today or tomorrow!

Take care, Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 10/28/2021
Posted on 10/28/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

Two things - it's one of those where you could ask do you want the good or the bad first?  Well, let's go with the bad first. This special message is to ask for patience and peace at the various dismissal gates!  We understand that parents are feeling stressed about picking up their students at dismissal, we understand that many of you have other students to pick up at other schools.  We understand that there are a lot of you and very few parking spaces, and we know things are difficult sometimes.  Still, here is my message: PLEASE follow traffic rules - do NOT double park, do NOT double park and leave your vehicle, do NOT park in the bus zone, do NOT yell at or harrass other parents.  Take it easy on yourself and park a little far away and take a relaxing, calming walk to come and pick up your child.  I have asked School Police to patrol the exits at school as often as they can, and they will be ticketing people who are not following traffic rules. Please remember that our students are watching how we act.  We do NOT yell at each other or call each  other names - we are the adults! 

Here's the good bit.  As we go in to November, the thanksgiving month, I want to thank Noah and Olivia's mom for writing the wonderful article in the UH News about Birney.  For the next article, she is seeking input from the Birney community about what we are grateful for.  She states, "My idea for the article is to to hear from the kids, students and parents and quote them in the article with their permission.   The question is "What are you most grateful for this year?""  If you would like to participate, please click here and you will find a Googleform to fill out and give your input. Personally, I have 513 students to be grateful for at Birney every day - every day their smiles and actions make me thankful to be here!  I am also grateful for my amazing staff and all of you too, as long as you are kind and patient with each other and your kids!

Take care, breathe, remember to be IB Learners who are knowledgeable, principled, reflective, caring, balanced, courageous,open-minded inquirers, thinkers and communicators.  That's what we are teaching your students to be, that's what we expect from you too!


Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 10/27/2021
Posted on 10/27/2021

Hello Birney families and friends,

This parent newsletter is lengthy – but I do ask that you read on since I am addressing health and safety issues that have been coming up at school and I want you to be aware. Here is the latest student/parent version of the Birney Buzz which should be coming home today in backpacks. Kids are excited about wearing their costume to school Friday (and so are we, we think), just a reminder to keep it appropriate for elementary, don't scare the little ones with nasty stuff, and keep it easy to get through a school day which might be a warm one.


PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES WILL BE VIRTUAL THIS FALL: I can’t believe we are in the 9th week of the school year – our first reporting period will end on November 5th (next week, week #10) and we will be scheduling our first round of Parent-Teacher Conferences – on Zoom of course – for the week of November 15th, or week #12. I encourage you to make sure you have your date and time set up with your child(ren)’s teacher(s) – this will probably be the first time you are able to meet with the teacher without a mask! They will be reaching out to make those apppointments with you, and as always we aim for 100% contact between parents and teachers. 


PARENT ORGANIZATION MEETING THURSDAY AT 6 PM ON ZOOM: Time: Oct 28, 2021 06:00 PM - Join Zoom Meeting - Meeting ID: 834 1013 7000 Passcode: 835600 - CHECK IT OUT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS COMING UP IN OUR COMMUNITY - WE ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO HELP WITH SOME REALLY FUN STUFF! Thanks to Ms. Isabel Rodriguez, Sofia, Andres and Lilly's mom, for her amazing help with the fall fundraiser - we surpassed our goal and made $24,000 to fund our IB program Specials and stuff.  


HEALTH AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS CONTINUE THROUGH WINTER BREAK: I sure hope the New Year brings some relief from this pandemic.  I look forward to opening our gates to parents again and welcoming you on campus! This  November, however, is too early to make such decisions since we do not know how the pandemic and the flu are going to affect our region.  At Birney, I plan to maintain all health and safety precautions – including not allowing non-essential visitors on campus - as the flu season encroaches and more and more kids are getting sent home with symptoms. I urge parents to help us keep all our families safe even though we understand that following our safety protocols is difficult for you at home too.  We understand that you have to work, so sending your child to school is part of the daily routine.  I am going to ask, however, that if your child wakes up feeling achy, sore or their head hurts – PLEASE keep them home, and make sure to bring a negative PCR test with you when you return


SOCIALEMOTIONAL NEEDS MORE PRONOUNCED AT SCHOOL THAN USUAL: It has been an interesting year for all of us so far.  We have observed that as a community if students, we have missed some developmental learning by remaining at home.  It is not academic learning, necessarily, although this is sometimes tragically the case; indeed, many of our students thrived academically at home.  No, instead I would call it social, collective learning about how to get along with each other, share the spaces, function in a community of learners and even advocate for themselves with a professional teacher as facilitator and guide.  We realize that the last time our fifth graders had a ‘whole’ school year, they were in 3rd grade and – believe it or not – sometimes it seems we are picking right up where we left off 2 years ago.  This has been disconcerting, because it is new to us.


Your role in this, as parents, would be to ask questions about how they are getting along with their classmates and teachers, listening with a keen ear for frustrations or needs and helping your children understand how to survive and thrive in their community. We have noticed that our students are re-learning how to speak to the teacher and to each other; they are not at home with parents and siblings after all.  They are also relearning how to self-regulate without making noises or playing with things or pets, something they did when learning alone on zoom last year.  We can relate, right?  We had to relearn how to go to work in regular clothes instead of sweats, how to pack a lunch, how to speak to co-workers instead of multi-tasking on our zoom calls while muted. 


THANKS (NOT) TO NETFLIX: It is in that frame of mind that I share an article from CalSchool News with you regarding the need for vigilance over what your children are seeing online.  I want to bring the show Squid Game to your attention vis-à-vis our work here at school.  The article calls it a ‘megahit’ - that probably means that you are at least aware of it, watching or have watched it.  If you have watched it, you may be the wise ones at this point; you may have realized how inappropriate it is for children.  I want to plead with every parent who reads this to please be aware of what your child(ren) is/are watching/playing on YouTube, Netflix, Roblox, Fortnite … whatever shiny screen entertainment they fight with you to be able to watch or play! 

The premise of the series is insidiously attractive to schoolchildren, because the games they play are classic children’s games.  But the show has the characters play to the death, and I do not know how this ‘megahit’ is going to creep into the revival of these classic games at elementary school – or how the show’s other themes are going to find their way onto our campus. I do not want to alarm or scare you, but I want you to be aware, so that if your child speaks to you about games they are playing at school, but something sounds wrong or alarming – please email the teacher or me to bring our attention to it.  We may see kids playing a simple child’s game but without knowing what they are saying to each other, we may not appreciate the impact the game has on our students.   


FREE BUS PASSES: Finally, some good news, as announced in the news, in January, bus passes will be free for all youth, which is great!

That's all for now - keep in touch, especially if you are concerned about something happening at school - take care!

Ms. Amanda


The Birney Buzz 10/22/2021

Hello Birney families and friends, 

Happy Friday - a reminder that today is Picture Day at Birney.  

Here is the newest Birney Buzz coming home in backpacks later today.  Next week we will be welcoming students to school the Friday before Halloween dressed up in their costumes OR in Birney spirit shirts - see the Buzz for more information.  

Another reminder to parents - due to the pandemic, we have our students eat outside and we keep our windows and doors wide open so the air can circulate - make sure your child(ren) dress in layers so they can adapt as the weather changes in the fall.  

The lost and found is filling up - it is located by the main gate - if you are concerned that an item has been lost by your child, you can ask to check it out.  

Take care,

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 10/15/2021

Hello Birney families,

Here is the latest Birney Buzz  that came or is coming home in backpacks. It has news about National School Lunch Week, Picture Day next week and the new Covid Testing Center open right next to Birney in the SandiCoast Café building, open from 7 am to 7 pm during the week and from 8 am to 5 pm on the weekends. Some of you also received a paper copy of the LCFF form to fill out and return - please make sure you do complete it and send back to school, we have about $75,000 riding on that data.  

Today is the last day for the Fall Fundraiser.  We are so, so, so close to meeting our $20,000 goal but, just to be sure, we can still take donations through the weekend. While we know that Boon Supply loves you to buy all their stuff, and that is great because their stuff is cool, we also want you to know that if you prefer to donate directly to Birney, that is just fine with us!  If you donate the full cost of a year of IB Education, or $350, your child automatically qualifies for the Game Truck, which we are scheduling for the new year. The holidays are coming – why not get a head start on your gift shopping with Boon Supply? If your family prefers to donate directly to the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation, click Donate NOW. This fundraiser helps support our IB program, specials and much more. Click the following links for more information
Donate NOW
Boon Supply
Welcome to Birney's Fall Fundraiser
Click for prize information and more and if you have additional questions email:

Good attendance news this week?  Kudos to 5th grade for having the highest percentage as a grade level in attendance, at 96.18%.  They get 5 minutes extra recess next week.  This week’s Birney Buzz also included the attendance data for the week. I am including this so the community sees the impact COVID-19 is having on our classrooms. I am also including it to impress upon you to not choose to be absent UNLESS your child has symptoms – it is very hard on the teachers to keep track of what every child is missing when they are absent, on top of getting in touch with every child on quarantine to make sure they have access to schoolwork. If your child is absent for any other reason, this can be an additional burden on an already over-burdened teacher. Typically at this time of year our attendance is in the 97-99% range, and yet last week it was 91.77. While I am tracking students who are legitimately home sick, with symptoms or quarantining due to a close contact, I am also noticing that there are unexcused absences due to trips or other reasons.  I ask that you resist having your child out of school for anything that cannot be excused, anything other than illness, medical appointments or symptoms.  

Next Friday will be Picture Day at Birney. We are working with Jostens this year - a new experience for us. One of the things they are using is a green screen so that you can have your choice of backgrounds - so please DO NOT have your child wear green for Picture Day! The company will work directly with you when the pictures are ready to view - everything will be done through your email, and you can reach them at or call them at 1-877-515-1447.  

I hope you all have a great weekend!  Take care,

Ms. Amanda


The Birney Buzz 10/11/2021
Posted on 10/11/2021

Birney Buzz for Monday October 11

Hello Birney families! Another whirlwind week last week led to my not sending this out till today. Here is your copy of the student newsletter , so if you need to click on links and such you can. We are scheduling school picture day on Friday, October 22. Click to review the details here.


We are extending the fall fundraiser for another week so we can reach our goal of $20,000. We are currently close to $15,000. Remember, you can either participate through Boon Supply or go directly to the Foundation website to donate, where 100% of your funding will benefit our Specials program of Spanish, Art, Garden and – new this year – Dance for grades K-3. For more information about the Foundation and PTA, along with our fundraising for the year, go here.   

Click the following links for more information
Donate NOW
Boon Supply
Welcome to Birney's Fall Fundraiser
Click for prize information and more


During the month of September, our school experienced a higher than usual rate of vandalism in the bathrooms. It turns out that this was a response to a Tiktok challenge which directed students to trash bathrooms and upload a video of the same to Tiktok. Social media is always there for all of us, both adults and students, these days. Most of the time it entertains. However, this school challenge includes many highly inappropriate, even criminal, suggestions (slap a school staff member (assault), jab a breast (also assault), etc. Parents and students need to know that any Birney student, or anyone related to a Birney student, who attempts to carry out any of the suggestions in the challenge will receive consequences as expected. We will investigate student actions and any students found to have committed any of the actions will be suspended, at the very least. Anyone not a student at Birney but still related in some way will be reported to either School Police or San Diego Police. 


Some of the vandalism we witnessed was uploaded to the Tiktok platform using a cell phone during the school day. The student who was using a cell phone during the school day violated school and district rules. Cell phones are everywhere these days, and we understand that your student needs to be able to communicate with you before or after school. Regardless, during the school day, when the teacher is in the supervisory role in your place, the phone isn’t needed and is, instead, a constant source of distraction. We prefer to maintain a safe environment by not exposing students to cyberbullying, unsafe content, the temptation to cheat on schoolwork, etc. We ask that parents assist us with enforcement of this rule – phones may not be used by a student during the school day, either in class or at lunch/recess. Phones should remain in the backpack, silenced, or turned off. If you are worried about a phone being safe in a backpack, you can also ask the teacher to safely store the phone during the day and ask that your child be able to retrieve the phone at dismissal. Students seen using their phone during the day will be asked to hand the phone to the adult and retrieve it at the end of the day. If it happens again, the phone will be confiscated, and an adult will have to retrieve it from school. 


Another indirect result of this challenge was the awareness that while students knew what was happening, they neglected to report it to teachers or myself, Ms. Amanda, until a few days had passed although they witnessed the vandalism. I can only think that the interruption of consistent daily school attendance, onsite, for so many months might have changed the school culture temporarily. The Birney students I knew before the closure of schools in March, 2020, would have reported such acts right away, the moment they happened, because they knew reporting would keep them safe. It will take time to mend our culture, the pandemic is still present in our daily lives in so many ways. In the meantime, parents could help us by having the conversation with their Birney student(s) about reporting things like bullying, name-calling, inappropriate behavior and vandalism to the nearest adult. The notion spread by a small number of voices in the upper grades that “Snitches get stitches” is contrary to what we need to do to keep our students safe and knowing that adults will respond appropriately and immediately when a child reports will address most of these troublesome incidents directly.


The Birney Behavior Handbook can be viewed as a more school-specific accompaniment to the district’s FACTS FOR PARENTS 2021-2022.  Our vision and rationale for the way we facilitate student behavior at Birney can be found there. Student behavior is an integral, explicit part of the IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program), which our school has belonged to for 12 years now. The IB Learner profile traits (thinker, communicator, inquirer, knowledgeable, principled, balanced, caring, reflective, open-minded, courageous) form the backbone of our school culture. We teach our students to act on what they learn, and having learned these profile traits since kindergarten, our students typically know when to report an incident which is detrimental or harmful to the students, staff or school.  In this case, many hours were spent cleaning up and fixing things in the bathrooms, which took time away from cleaning other areas of the school, including the classrooms.

Thanks for your support – happy 7th week of school, 31 to go!

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 10/03/2021

Birney BeeHappy Sunday. 

As we enter the LAST WEEK OF THE FALL FUNDRAISER, I want to urge you to participate any way you choose, but to act this week! You don’t have to purchase items from Boon Supply, you can donate directly to Friends of Alice Birney if you prefer. The Fall Fundraiser will run from September 10th-October 8th.This fundraiser helps support our IB program, specials and much more. Click the following links for more information: Boon Supply and Welcome to Birney's Fall Fundraiser. If you have additional questions email:

At the end of the week, we received more notifications of exposure to Covid-19 or positive cases from the Health Department.  The Health Department is conducting contact tracing and notifying close contacts when they need to do a ‘modified quarantine’, ‘quarantine’ or receive tests every 3 days. In the meantime, it is my job to post the Notification of Non-Close Contact to the general public – if you have not heard from the Health Department, you are not identified as a close contact.

I ask again that you keep your child home if any of the COVID symptoms are present and provide a negative PCR test upon return. The PCR test is simple to get at any drugstore; it cannot be the antigen test that you can give at home.

What if my kid has seasonal allergies? I remind you that you can get your doctor to certify that your child has allergies using the Certification of Chronic Condition form which can be filed with the Health Office and may prevent your child from being sent home. 

LCFF funding - LCFF funding is worth about $75,000 to our school - it measures the need for additional funding based on poverty levels and language learners, so it is a huge help for us to be able to level the playing field for our students.Parents can complete the LCFF form in the parent portal. Here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. So far, 164 students’ information has been completed, but we have over 500 students altogether. In the coming weeks, you will receive a paper version of this form if you have been unable to complete the survey in the Parent Portal. Our federal funding depends on families completing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Information form through the Parent Portal. This video should explain everything. Our school needs this information to help ensure we receive all the state funding to which we are entitled. To create a PowerSchool Parent Portal Account, click  here: English | Spanish.  To create a Parent Portal account, you will need: A valid email address and Access ID and Password from the school. Click here to access the Parent Portal.  If you do not have the Access ID and Password for your student, please contact the school to make the request. You will need an Access ID and Password for each student you wish to link to your account. Click here to sign into the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  Finally, here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  

Last week was our best week yet for COVID testing – but we are far from 100% responding, whether it is an opt-in or an opt-out. Thanks to all of you who have emailed your questions, it has helped us set up a consistent line of communication with both the nursing department and UCSD, but as with any new system, there are kinks that must be worked out. Here are the links again to help you decide whether your child should be tested at school:


Lastly, please be mindful of our neighbors and each other at pick up and drop off – double and triple parking is never ok, especially when it’s to pick up or drop off a Birney student.  We work hard cultivating the IB Learner Profile Traits in our students – and as the adults we must also embody the same.  Just in case that is not enough of a nudge to compel proper adult behavior in the area surrounding the school, I have asked SDUSD School Police to include Birney’s current 4 gates when cruising the neighborhood, having had just one too many complaints from neighbors and other parents. We are doing our best to keep everyone safe, please help us by being responsible, respectful drivers. 

See you Monday!

Ms. Amanda

Birney BeeThe Birney Buzz 09/30/2021

Hello Birney Bees,

Today, Thursday, is Birney's COVID testing day.  If you have been wanting to get your child tested weekly, but they still haven't been tested, you may want to double check that you registered with UCSD's Primary Health system.  In some cases, parents have signed up but not filled out the form.  Please respond to this email if you have any questions, but especially if you have been wondering why your child has not been tested.  Thanks - more Buzz later!

Ms. Amanda

The Birney Buzz 09/23/2021
Posted on 09/27/2021
Birney Bee

Good afternoon, Birney famiies, hope you made it home safely and got dry quickly! That was NUTS!

The newest copy of the students' Birney Buzz  is coming home in backpacks today. You can get the color version by clicking on the link. There is a TON of information about the Fall Fundraiser, in case you need it. We are doing great - thanks for all your support. Some of you have emailed me asking how to make a direct donation instead of buying stuff - absolutely! That information is there too, but just in case - if your family prefers to donate directly to the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation, click Donate NOW. For more information about what we are raising funds for, see Welcome to Birney's Fall Fundraiser

Parents of 4th and 5th graders, we will be surveying your students in the next couple of weeks to get a sense of their social and emotional strengths.  We will use the data to inform our supports from our 3-day counselor, Ms. Dora Arnold, as well as our budgeting priorities for the year.  Please see the letter from the district including a presentation which explains more about the survey, and let me know if you do not wish for your student to participate.  You can simply reply to this email if you wish to opt out, or contact your child's teacher. You may also have received the results of a new math test given in the Spring.  Many of you have asked how to interpret the results, and I will be  providing that information later this week or next.  Stay tuned.  

Regarding COVID testing - Thursdays - we had our best Thursday yet, but acknowledge that it continues to be a massive undertaking which is still very new to all of us.  Thanks for reaching out to find out why your child did not get the test, or the results, and please know that we are doing everything we can to address all your questions.  Last week we did not run out of time (testers remained at school all day) or tests (replenished midday), so we were able to test over 300 students. 

I also wanted to alert you to a meeting this week on September 30 from 5:30-6:30 pm with the district Parents as Partners department and the Nursing & Wellness department regarding the Safety for Schools Forum. See the flyer in English/Spanish.

I hope you had a great weekend - thank you as always for choosing Birney, thank you again for all your support! Week five begins Monday!  


Birney BeeThe Birney Buzz 09/20/2021

Happy Monday Birney Bees,

I don't usually send Buzz on Mondays but there are a couple of celebrations and some items I want to share!

First - the LCFF funding qualification form?  The number of forms submitted DOUBLED over the weekend!  Last Friday we had only 37/510  submitted, now we have nearly 80.  So I'm putting that notification in again.  The LCFF funding is worth about $75,000 to our school - it measures the need for additional funding based on poverty levels and language learners, so it is a huge help for us to be able to level the playing field for our students.  Here is that blurb again:Parents to complete the LCFF form in the parent portal – please! Here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. Last week, I sent this home and only 37 students’ have submitted the information.    Our federal funding depends on families completing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Information form through the Parent Portal.  This video should explain everything. Our school needs this information to help ensure we receive all the state funding to which we are entitled. To create a PowerSchool Parent Portal Account, click  here: English | Spanish.  To create a Parent Portal account, you will need:  A valid email address and Access ID and Password from the school. Click here to access the Parent Portal.  If you do not have the Access ID and Password for your student, please contact the school to make the request. You will need an Access ID and Password for each student you wish to link to your account. Click here to sign into the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  Finally, here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  

After-School Classes begin this week and next - except for Chess, which will now start up October 11.  More to come on that at the end of the week when the link to sign up goes live.  Regarding childcare - I HEAR you!  Childcare is a problem nationwide right now.  Both of our basic programs are short-staffed and while we would dearly love to keep all the students who need somewhere to be while parents are working, we are strictly limited not only by state regulations around group size and student-staff ratio, but also around availability of staff, limiting cross-contamination of stable groups and scheduling. During a regular school year we typically have more than one class every day but in this current atmosphere with positive case identification of about 1 per week, we have to be vigilant and cautious. 

On that note, we had our 3rd positive student covid case reported to us, triggering the sharing of the attached Non-Close Contact Letter. If you were contacted by the school nurse, your student was a close contact, otherwise this letter seves as notification to the school and staff that we must remain alert, strive to remain 6 feet apart at all times when unmasked, and maintain the utmost care in our health and safety measures.  The first 2 students who tested positive are back in school doing fine.  My best wishes and virtual hugs go out to the families of students or teachers, parents or other family members, who have had a positive case at their home.  Hugs and wishes and gratitude also to the many, many of you who have had your child sent home with any of the symptoms and have had to take time to go get the PCR test in order to come back to school.  We know it is a pain, and we appreciate your spirit and cooperation. Remember, if your child typically experiences chronic symptoms that are similar to Covid, you can file the Certification of a Chronic Condition  here in the health office - it must be signed by your doctor to be valid.   

The Boon Supply fundraiser also picked up over the weekend. The instructions to send those 10 emails are in the colorful letter showing off all the prizes, attached here in English and Spanish.  Friday is our next p[rize day for any child whose family has sent 10 or more emails - plus this week only all children qualifying for a prize will also have their names entered in a drawing to win $100! 

That's about it - keep up the good work, on our side it is getting smoother and smoother.  Have a great week! As always, an email to gets you straight to my inbox and, if you don't get a reply within 24 hours, send it again.  

Ms. Amanda  


Birney BeeBirney Buzz September 17, 2021

Greetings, Birney families and friends!

Our third week of school is almost over (35 weeks to go J) and we are settling into a rhythm – our students know the routines and the rules, teachers are getting to know their students more completely, plans are being put in place to provide supports. Today I visited every classroom to give out the IB Learner pencil, have the IB Learner get a compliment from a friend, and talk up the Fall FundraiserThe FOABE welcome letter about IB learning explains more about why we need to raise $350 per child to maintain our amazing programs. The Fall Fundraiser runs from September 10th - October 8.   If your student was paying attention, they will be asking you to go to to register your child and send 10 emails out to friends and family by clicking on “Share Your Fundraiser.” Every student whose family sends at least 10 emails this week will earn a special prize next Friday as well as entering the drawing for a $100 prize. We raise funds at Birney to pay for our Specials (Art, Dance, Spanish, Garden), field trips, assemblies and IB Materials. 

After School Chess, Spanish and More! After School Enrichment classes are starting soon and we still have space available in Chess for All, Spanish, Hip Hop, Intro to Guitar and Art. Sign up today! Check out the flyers and information by scrolling down on the PTA website

Covid Testing update:The extra layers of complexity necessitated by the pandemic continue to confound our ‘normal’ school year, and yesterday’s Covid testing was no exception. While we have over 400 student signed up, we were able to test less than 200. If your child has opted in but was not tested, please pay attention to the information that follows. Many students have opted in to Covid testing on the blue form that came home the first week of school, but have to complete the Informed Consent and Release of Information form required by the vendor who is doing the testing.  It took a couple of weeks for us to be able to reconcile the lists we have in our student information system and the list sent by the vendor. We are sending the other form home today to those of you who have not yet completed it. Once we receive it back and input the information, we are hoping we will have a better list next week, but in some cases, it may be the week after. Every week the process gets easier and more complete – but it is still challenging. 

Parents to complete the LCFF form in the parent portal – please! Here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. Last week, I sent this home and only 37 students’ have submitted the information.  Our federal funding depends on families completing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Information form through the Parent Portal. This video should explain everything. Our school needs this information to help ensure we receive all the state funding to which we are entitled. To create a PowerSchool Parent Portal Account, click  here: English | SpanishTo create a Parent Portal account, you will need: A valid email address and Access ID and Password from the school. Click here to access the Parent Portal. If you do not have the Access ID and Password for your student, please contact the school to make the request. You will need an Access ID and Password for each student you wish to link to your account.Click here to sign into the PowerSchool Parent Portal.Fi nally, here is how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  

Did you see your child’s back-to-school information yet? The grade level teams posted presentations on our website – check them out! 

PTA membership – PTA membership is $10 for each year, if you joined last year, now is a good time to renew your member shipTo join PTA, click here. 

PTA and the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation – how do they work?  The Birney Parent Organization Guide has some really useful information as well as contacts. If you are interested in volunteering, getting to know other parents, or more, this would be a good place to start. To get on a volunteer list, email  

As always, an email gets you straight to my inbox. You can imagine I get a lot of emails, and I am happy to reply to them. If you don’t hear back from me, don’t hesitate to resend your email – I don’t mind at all – sometimes I get busy and miss stuff!

For now, take care, have a great weekend!

Ms. Amanda

Birney BeeBirney Buzz Thursday 9/09 

Greetings to the Birney community, it has been a busy week with lots happening.  I will try to cover what you need to know concisely.  Happy Friday of the 2nd week of school – I am amazed seeing Kindergarten students happily go to their Specials classes this morning that we have accomplished so much!  Hats off to the wonderful Birney staff!

After-School Enrichment:  Our After-School Enrichment Program (ASE Schedule) -begins signing up next week. The schedule will include:

                Monday: Chess (K-5); Theatre (3-5, PrimeTime priority)

                Tuesday: Introductory Guitar (2-5), Heartlight Dance 

            Wednesday: Soccer (K-5); Garden (K-5)

            Thursday: Monart Drawing (1-5); Spanish (K-5)

I have linked to the fliers that I have received.  All fliers will soon be available through the PeachJar link on our website.  Prices, start/end dates and number of classes vary.  After-school classes will not occur during parent-teacher conference week (week of 11/15-11/19). 

After School Enrichment Schedule - gives you the websites for sign ups for after-school classes beginning soon

Fall Fundraiser Kickoff:   Our fundraising efforts run throughout the year and serve to support our IB Program, Specials and more.  The  Welcome to Birney's Fall Fundraiser about IB learning explains more about why we need to raise $350 per child to maintain our amazing programs.  The Fall Fundraiser runs from September 10th - October 8.   It is an opportunity to win prizes, get environmentally great stuff for your household AND help raise money for Birney! Materials are coming home in backpacks today.  Check outhe video to see how it works.  You’ll see information about the Fall Fundraiser at the gates while you’re waiting for your students.   All proceeds from the Fall Fundraiser support our IB program which means supporting Performing Arts, Spanish and Garden.

Parent Organization Guide 20212022  - tells you about the events on the schedule during a normal year, hoping we are back to normal soon

Back-to-School Presentations: Our Birney Back-to-School presentations are coming to your emails this weekend and will be posted on our website by Monday evening.  You will be able to access the presentations at your leisure over the weekend.  Teachers are eager for you to take in their information for back-to-school and for you let them know if you have any questions or concerns.  Although our preference would be to invite you all to school to meet the teacher and get a look at the classroom, see the students interacting and enjoy our wonderful environment – the complexity of these times prevent it.  Many teachers are planning to hold a Zoom meeting with parents soon so you can meet the person teaching your kids face to face, without a mask, instead of through the fence; we will share that schedule with you shortly.  Since we committed to ‘back-to-school’ for the second Friday of the school year, we wanted to get you the team’s basic information at that point. 

Elections at Birney: the Birney auditorium will be hosting the Special Election over the weekend through Tuesday.  Unfortunately, this will displace the SAY Program for a couple of days and will disrupt entry for both programs both morning and evening.  I also bring this to the attention of families using the main gate at entry and dismissal given that community members will be accessing the auditorium to place their votes. No voter will be allowed to enter the rest of the school. Please

LCFF information through Parent Portal:  Our federal funding depends on families completing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Information form through the Parent Portal.  This video should explain everything. Our school needs this information to help ensure we receive all the state funding to which we are entitled. It will not affect your child receiving free meals at this school as all children will have free access to meals this school year. The LCFF online form is available on the Parent Portal, and NOT on the student’s portal. Those of you who still have not signed on to the Parent Portal will receive another letter in your child’s backpack this afternoon to sign on. To create a PowerSchool Parent Portal Account, click here: English | Spanish.  To create a Parent Portal account, you will need: A valid email address and Access ID and Password from the school. Click here to access the Parent Portal If you do not have the Access ID and Password for your student, please contact the school to make the request. You will need an Access ID and Password for each student you wish to link to your account. Click here to sign into the PowerSchool Parent Portal.  Finally, here’s how you enter LCFF data in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. 

PTA membership – PTA membership is $10 for each year, if you joined last year, now is a good time to renew your member ship.  To join PTA, click here.

PTA and the Friends of Alice Birney Foundation – how do they work?  The Birney Parent Organization Guide has some really useful information as well as contacts.  If you are interested in volunteering, getting to know other parents, or more, this would be a good place to start.  To get on a volunteer list, email

COVID testing news: Thursdays are our appointed COVID-testing days.  This week was our 2nd time with the testers on campus.  This week we were able to test only about half of the students who have been cleared to test due to the fact that they ran out of tests and time.  Thank you for your patience with us as we smooth out this brand new process at school.  We did move the testing outside to the lunch arbor, which worked out well.  We will begin with the older kids next week since this week we began with the little ones.  Hopefully we will get all the ducks in a row by then. If you still haven’t opted in (or out) to the COVID testing you can do so  online here.  It takes a few days for the forms to clear and get on to the vendor’s lists.

Patience – the first two weeks of school have been different – while we usually celebrate attendance, instead we have seen record numbers of students sent home with covid-like symptoms. Some have had to return after 24 hours with no symptoms, others have had to provide a negative PCR test, others have had to quarantine at home for a variety of days.  The decision tree is complicated and confusing, because the variety and range of contexts for contact with covid are numerous.  Some staff members have been affected as well, either themselves or because of family members. While we usually celebrate the return to school with hugs, joyful reunions and a linking of parents with teachers on Family Friday, we are dusting off our Zoom links and passwords to resume remote communication due to the Delta variant.  I know this is hard on everyone and I thank you for your grace and patience – for this can-do, solution-oriented principal, it is excruciating having to say no to so many of you. 

Grace – the bottom line, for me, and what has stopped me from pursuing any alternative, is the contacts I have every day with these beautiful children.  They know what is right for them –coming back to school for them is a no-brainer - they wear their masks, they move 6 feet apart upon request, they tell me that this is better than learning from home, and they make every minute of my job worthwhile. And then there are my teachers and staff – even though this reopening is yet another challenging version of the real thing, they are rolling up their sleeves and making it work.  The magic of the classroom is alive and well – the excitement of the IB education at Birney is thriving, and although this is tough, we can and will make it work. Thank you for the grace you give us to keep trying. Thank you for making sure you uphold Birney’s safety measures by wearing your mask and distancing when you come up to school. 

Take care, remember a simple reply to this email gets you to my inbox with any questions or concerns,

Ms. Amanda


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