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Important Parent Letter from the Superintendent 9-18-2020

September 18, 2020

Dear Parents,

As we conclude our first full week with the hybrid schedule I want to again thank the parents, students  and staff for all of their efforts in trying to adapt to this new schedule and this new instructional platform.  

On a positive note, it was truly remarkable to be a part of the first day back to school in person for many of our students and staff after six months away.  It really was great to see the looks on the students faces and also the staff faces as they greeted  the students entering the buildings. I was also happy to see our remote students at home being greeted by teachers on line and students having the opportunity to see some of their friends in class. It was a great day.   

One of our biggest concerns with the reopening of school was the health and safety of our students and staff.  This started with our transporting students either by bus or parents and students driving to school.  I want to first commend our transportation supervisor  Michelle Boyle and her staff as well as the drivers and aides for doing an excellent job in a very demanding environment.  Scheduling students on A and B days, working with students who attend every day, and coordinating times with the vocational school was a difficult job but it was accomplished with very little issues. I want to again thank our drivers, aides and students for adhering to the safety guidelines by keeping social distancing and wearing masks.  I also want to thank the parents for their cooperation and support in working with us to address all of the transportation issues.  This went very well.   
The second issue for health and safety came as staff and students entered the buildings. This had to be accomplished using several entrances and staggering the dismissal from buses and cars to maintain the social distancing.  Students and staff then had their temperature checked to insure everyone was safe to enter the building. This process continues to move very smoothly and I need to thank the administrators for the scheduling and all the nurses for taking the lead to make sure we addressed everything properly. Also, please remember to complete the daily health form on-line.  

A great many things went exceptionally well during our first few days of school because of the efforts of our staff, our students and our parents. However, it is important to point out we have had some issues with the communication between our teachers in school and our students at home.  I need to point out that these issues are not a result of a lack of effort from our teaching staff and our technology staff.  Our curriculum staff,  technology staff and teachers have been working long hours to provide training to our teaching staff and parents to try to troubleshoot the various issues that are developing.  They have provided training to staff and parents both on-line, including the Parent Academy, as well as in-person to help teachers meet the challenges of teaching both in-person and remote students.  I have to say that the staff is making every effort to work with all of our students and it has been frustrating for them as well as our parents because of the problems with the communication.  The cause of these issues vary to include school related issues and home related issues.  There are many cases where the interaction between students and teachers have been outstanding but I know that is not the outcome in every case.  We are committed to making the experience for the all  in-person students and all remote students equitable and this is challenging but that is our goal and the teachers are committed to doing this.  

I will say that we do have all the pieces in place to have a successful year.  I am proud of our staff,  parents, and students for their efforts in this transition. While I understand the frustrations, as these issues are resolved, all of our students will benefit from the instruction that our staff will be able to provide and I am confident that this will be a great year.  I can assure you that we will be doing everything possible to make this happen.  

I do want to emphasize one point for parents.  It is my understanding that in some cases, some parents may be recording instructional sessions for the purpose of demonstrating the poor connections between the student and the teacher.  While I understand the intent, this is not allowed due to privacy issues of our students and staff. I would refer parents to our district policy # 5516, which clearly prohibits recording without the permission of parents, staff, and students.  This is done to protect the privacy of our students.  If you have a connection issue, please communicate that with your child’s teacher and we will work to correct the problem. 

Again, I want to thank the parents for their efforts, commitment, patience and cooperation and I want to thank our  staff for all their efforts to make this new instructional platform work for all of our students.  I know there are some frustrations but that is because everyone is so committed to making this all work.  We will continue to work on these issues and it will get better.  Have a great year.  

Respectfully,
David Trethaway
Superintendent of Schools