Dublin kids are learning at home for the foreseeable future but will eventually return to school, so local physician and parent Dr. Dawn Nwamuo decided to enter the race for Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees Area 1 in hopes of steering the district in the right direction on the matter.
Watching the school board deliberate how to navigate the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had Nwamuo "just sitting on edge" earlier this year. Nwamuo told the Weekly that she partly decided to enter the Nov. 3 general election for trustee because "I thought some medical perspective might be helpful" for deciding how to safely reopen all 12 DUSD sites for in-person instruction.
"I'm a medical doctor and the pandemic is first and foremost for me. That means ensuring proper guidelines are in place and the health and safety of our students, staff and community is on the forefront," Nwamuo said. "I've been working in the hospital setting and outpatient setting during the pandemic, so I can bring medical insight to help navigate this."
Nwamuo continued, "I would want to make sure we have a very detailed playbook that could actually be executed effectively, to make sure proper guidelines can be adhered to, which include a proper testing process, contact tracing."
"Also, what's most important to me is we have a proper system to deal with a symptomatic case -- if it's on site, how do we isolate to keep from spreading to campus," she added. "We cannot expect that there won't, at some point, be infections that happen. We have to be properly prepared to address it when it does. I would help oversee that process and make sure we are using the most current and up to date guidelines."
In addition to her medical knowledge, Nwamuo said she would bring diverse insight as the only Black woman on the school board and be "a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion."
"There are so many opportunities in the school system that we can improve and close some of the disparity gaps between the different groups that I'd say are more marginalized or disadvantaged," Nwamuo said. "There needs to be an equal voice at the table, and the current board distribution doesn't show diversity."
In terms of other disparity gaps, Nwamuo said district data "shows a high suspension rate of disability students ... (so) I think we should do a deeper dive to understand why we're significantly different than the national average in those areas."
Implicit bias and cultural sensitivity training and education are a couple of Nwamuo's priorities for district students and staff, as well as "an educational curriculum more reflective of the diversity in the school."
Noting that the California State University system is requiring ethnic studies for graduation starting in 2023, Nwamuo said, "I think it'd be nice if the California public schools reflected something similar."
Nwamuo also wants DUSD to become a leader in remote learning by uploading curriculums online and have students start receiving textbooks in digital format.
"It's kind of baffling that we are completely digital learners right now but students are coming home with seven books. Kids are carrying these heavy backpacks; it's not good for their spines, health," she said.
A Dublin resident for the past six years, Nwamuo lives in the Schaefer Ranch area with her husband and two sons, both enrolled in DUSD, and works in radiology at Kaiser Permanente. Born and raised in Union City by a "strong family of educators", Nwamuo graduated from the University of Michigan before attending medical school at UCLA.
After spending time abroad in Kenya, Dominican Republic and Mexico early in her career, Nwamuo returned to the Bay Area and received additional subspeciality training in breast imaging at Stanford School of Medicine before joining Kaiser.
Nwamuo's leadership experience includes serving on Kaiser's Board of Commission on Cancer and Steering Committee on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, and the Schaefer Ranch Homeowners Association directors board.
Nwamuo is running against Kristin Pelham for Trustee Area 1 in the Nov. 3 general election. For more information about Nwamuo's campaign, visit www.dawn4dublin.com.