Op-Ed: A Message from Superintendent Jon Sills as the School Year Closes for Students

June 18, 2020

On this last day of school for students, I want to thank all of our faculty and staff, as well as our family partners, for working together to educate our children during the past three months.  It has been an enormous and complex task.  Perseverance, flexibility, creativity, and belief in each other have seen us through.  But not without pain, frustration, and a real loss of learning time.  And not without problematic inequities in access caused by dramatically different Covid-19 related family circumstances.  As we have acknowledged before, many faculty members have also had to manage meeting the needs of their own homebound children and the students sitting virtually before them.  I hope that everyone, with these pressures reduced, finds some rest and respite this summer.

I am sure that everyone is at best, unsettled, and at worst, quite anxious, about when and how we will be reopening school in the fall.  I understand that families need to plan for work, child care, etc.

As stated previously, we are awaiting direction from the Commissioner and the Governor, who will be prescribing the parameters around reopening and how school will be conducted.  In the meantime, our Reopening Task Force is hard at work planning for contingencies and taking steps where we are able to predict particular needs, e.g., disinfectant cleaning supplies, PPE, additional computers, and hotspots, etc.

Some of the topics that the committee worked on yesterday included:

  • how to decongest the school entry and dismissal processes
  • how to create hallway traffic patterns that reduce student-to-student contact
  • surveying families over the summer to better identify both needs and family intentions regarding bus ridership, September attendance, etc.
  • surveying faculty to get input on distance learning after their experience of the past three months
  • purchasing, or making clear masks for teachers so that students can see their smiles
  • creating quarantine spaces for symptomatic students waiting for parent pick-up

Thank you to folks who have recently volunteered to join the committee.  We have added a second teacher and a parent of a special education student.  We are already quite large.  Thank you as well for your recommendations- for example, that we keep siblings on the same in-school cycle should we go to a hybrid model.  Please keep those coming.

Please stay tuned for weekly updates.

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