I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day and could find some semblance of celebration during this time.  During this stressful time, I find that I need to remind myself to breathe, to find peace by expressing gratitude, and to focus on serving others. We have a lot of work to do in the next few months to serve our employees, students and families, but we are certainly up for the challenge.

There continues to be a high degree of uncertainty related to corona virus events, but the school district is working on short and long range responses to the changing landscape of coronavirus in our community.  This blog provides an overview of the phased approach we will be using during the next few months to reopen schools.

Shortly after launching the Virtual Learning Plan, I set up six task force groups to address issues to reopen schools safely.  The task force groups include Health and Safety, Mental Health Wellness, Learning Recovery, Digital Virtual Learning, Business and Finance, and Personnel.  The task forces groups are working to coordinate efforts to address the following major objectives:

* Certify reopening readiness for employees, students, and families (this includes establishing procedures for social distancing, providing health screening protocols, and maintaining sanitation and hygiene)

* Design a robust learning model to serve students in the ongoing uncertain environment that no longer anticipates that school will be back as usual in the fall.

* Establish ongoing support for students and employees during this time of crises.

* Prioritize CARES Act and Relief Funds allocations (federal emergency relief funds to address the impact that Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019)

A command team will coordinate the efforts of the task force groups by continuing to establish Response Teams that focus on critical COVID-19 issues, conduct scenario planning for ongoing contingencies, and establish communication protocols.

Through the coordinated efforts of these cross functional response teams, the school district has developed the following deliberate phased approach for the next few months.

Phase One: Retrieve and Return – Next Three Weeks

School buildings have been closed and employees have been working remotely.  We trained custodial and maintenance personnel to provide additional sanitation procedures in our school buildings. We will start to open buildings this week in anticipation of bringing small groups (5–9 people at a time) back in the buildings next week to retrieve personal items left prior to spring break and to start to return devices that were distributed during the past six weeks. School principals will be given specific instructions this week to share with teachers and parents, and starting on May 18th, we will permit limited entry for brief periods of time.  Precautionary, social distancing and hygiene procedures will be strictly followed.

In addition to communicating limited access plans for the next three weeks, we are also considering graduation ceremonies and the use of facilities:

  • Graduation Ceremonies: the school board will make a final decision this week regarding graduation ceremonies.  Seniors and their parents have been surveyed to clarify preferences, and the school board will weigh the various options to make a decision that will be in the best interest of our community
  • Use of Facilities: In addition to providing limited access to the buildings, we are also considering how best to permit the use of athletic facilities and how and when sports teams may begin to practice. We will have more details in the near future.

Phase Two: Summer Preparations and Limited In-Person, Summer School —June/July 2020

Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year (through June 30, 2020), but the task force groups are developing plans to provide summer school for some students in July, if at all possible.  Final decisions are dependent upon social distancing guidelines and the ability for us to mitigate coronavirus spread, ensure the cleanliness of buildings, and provide for the safety of students and staff.  If summer school plans can be implemented, students and parents will be notified in mid-June of the possibility to begin a summer school program starting in early July.

Phase Three:  Reopening School in August

The expectations for schools to reopen in August with the coronavirus behind us is no longer something that everyone takes for granted.  We have read reports of waves of coronavirus infection that will be ongoing for the next 12 – 18 months or until a vaccine is produced to protect our community from the disease.   The task force on learning recovery is also working on plans for how education will be delivered next fall if we have to continue some aspects of the virtual learning plan.  We will communicate with parents, students, and teachers throughout the next few months as plans are being developed.

PARENT RESOURCES

Last Friday I included a tribute to parents in the Superintendent’s blog.  You can find the link HERE, and we have also created a page on our website for information about COMMUNITY RESOURCES.   Links on the page provide information about counseling, housing, utilities, and other social services.  The school district will also continue to provide meals for families for the foreseeable future.  You can find additional information HERE.

We added a Homework Hotline feature to the Virtual Learning Plan to support students for the next few weeks.  Paraprofessionals are providing support from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and you can find the link to the Homework Hotline on the virtual learning pages or click HERE. The first time you access the Hotline, you will have to enter the password, “parent” and press enter.