While I know we are in unprecedented times, and there seems to be fear and uncertainty in abundance, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your calm focus on the welfare of our students and your grace under pressure. I hope you have been taking some time this weekend to rest and recharge. Taking care of yourself and your loved ones should be your focus. Our students and you are our top priority.
I’d also like to thank all of you for taking the extra steps necessary to keep our children safe. To our bus drivers and MaT staff, thank you for coming in early to wipe down and disinfect each and every bus to ensure they are sanitary inside. To our custodial staff, you are doing an amazing job disinfecting surfaces and keeping our buildings clean and healthy. To our cafeteria staff, thank you for using best practices in our kitchens and food service areas. I had the distinct honor and pleasure of assisting the elementary food service staff prepare and serve lunch on Friday. And I apologize if the pizza slices weren’t up to their usual sliced perfection!
And to our teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, and administrators– thank you for keeping the focus on learning and keeping our students engaged.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you about critical decisions that have been made over the weekend. In consultation with San Juan Basin Health District, local health professionals and our board president, I have made the decision to go to distance learning for all students on Tuesday. School offices will be open and staffed by administrators, secretaries and health aides. The plan is for students to work from home, T-F and then go out on spring break. As spring break comes to a close, we will reassess the situation and will communicate next steps to you. In the attached communication to parents, I am giving them the option of having their child(ren) attend school tomorrow. Our hope is that students will attend and you can send home learning materials at the end of the day. We realize that is going to take some time and we will have extra staff at the schools to help with preparations. Additionally, we are asking teachers and paraprofessionals to report to the buildings on Tuesday to help distribute materials to parents of students not in school on Monday. After Tuesday, teachers and paraprofessionals will be working from home, providing instruction per plans that were made in each building on Friday. Maintenance, custodial, food service staff, and bus drivers will report, per directions from their directors, who will be meeting with you on Monday.
While this is a new and different way of working, I know that teachers, tech staff, and administrators have been working on distance learning plans in the event we had to go to an online learning environment. That time is now. This will mean a redefinition of how learning happens, moving from seat time and a synchronous environment to an asynchronous environment. I believe the moves we have made over the last few years, where we focused on learning in a competency based environment, will serve us well as we utilize remote learning. Thank you to all who are and have been involved in this work.
We value each and every one of you and recognize the critical role you play in our district and community as a stabilizing force in an uncertain world. As I stated in a previous update, you will be paid for the jobs you are doing so very well. Our students will still be receiving instruction. Our buildings and vehicles will still need attention and cleaning. We will be working out a food service program for our students. Please rest assured: we will maintain your compensation.
My final ask is that we all extend grace to each other and our students, our parents, and the community at large. We are all going to be asked to go above and beyond our normal duties, sometimes when we are not feeling well. To coin a phrase that I’ve seen a lot recently, “In a world and time when you can be anything, be kind.” Given that this past week was Kindness Week in our schools, I saw the power of this multiple times as I visited the schools. A thousand thanks to all of you.
There are still many things we need to work out and a thousand unanswered questions. I wish I could answer all those questions now, but we have never faced a situation like this before. As things evolve we will continue to provide updates to you. Please check your email as often as possible.