This Friday is May 1st and with the beginning of May, we expect the end of April showers and the coming of May’s flowers. This year, we hope that May brings so much more: a return to the normalcy we may have taken for granted. The onset of COVID-19 has brought on unwanted, unexpected change. Speaking to our larger B-R community, I hope everyone is safe. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone struggling with the impact of this pandemic, especially those local families, and families everywhere, that have lost someone to this disease.
In a district this size, it is not out of character that the feedback regarding the district’s response has been varied. It has been, overwhelmingly, positive, but we know it is not perfect and that there is still more we can do. As we move through the fourth marking period, teachers continue to grow the instruction on our Distance Learning platform. There has been and will continue to be more face-to-face contact, more instructional resources, continued assessment and feedback. The contributions from our curriculum team, including central office administrators, have been immense and, with no defined conclusion to this situation, they are still vigorously supporting our teachers daily. Our teachers and support staff are working constantly and in new ways to make distance learning engaging and meaningful.
And yet we hear that for some it is already too much. And we hear from others it is not enough. And in every case we do our best to work with each student, each family. In education, we have for a long time wrestled with the idea that equity does not mean equal; it does not always mean the same. What is equitable for one student is not always what is equitable for another. We have different strengths, different passions, different support systems, different goals. This pandemic and our forced move to Distance Learning has highlighted why equity is so important and why a closed-minded grip on same, one-size-fits-all, is not what students need.
Across all meetings, one of the items on our regular agenda is Reflection. We talk about our victories and our lessons learned. Today, one of our principals chose to highlight the way DL has shown us just how important the social aspect of school is. We have received feedback from students and from families that so much of what is helping students now is the live interaction, with their teachers certainly, but we hear so much about how school, even online as it is now, maybe more so now, has been so important because it has allowed students to see and interact with their peers. Again, something we may have accepted as a constant. It was taken away and our reflection on this is to make sure that we value that now, we provide it now, but also that when we return, and we will, we make sure that this, and all lessons learned help guide us when we are back in schools. We are committed to always learning, even now, and we appreciate the feedback we get.
As this continues, parents and students still reach out to us for support. I want to remind everyone that we have a separate set of resources to support families as we work through our current reality. These include district resources as well as those in our larger, B-R community. They can be found by visiting our District Health and Wellness Page by clicking on COVID-19. We are in this together, so continue to contact your teachers and building administrators if you need assistance.
- Timelines and calendar
- As per the governor’s directive, we will remain on DL until at least May 18, 2020.
- The academic calendar will remain the same for the rest of this school year. This includes our give back days. Barring emergent events, May 1, May 27, and June 5, will become days off from DL. May 1 is this Friday.
- Every effort will be made to hold our special events in the safest and most inclusive ways possible. Unfortunately, due to contract and safety issues, we may have to cancel some completely. As this occurs, you will receive direct communication from your school or organization.
- The district continues to deliver food to qualified families. If your financial situation has changed due to this crisis, please let us know by going to our website here (Select Free and Reduced Lunch).
- All facilities remain closed to the public. We know that outdoor activity during this time is needed. We encourage it for you and your families, but please remember to follow social distancing. Further, the district is not cleaning outdoor equipment. Please do not use any outdoor equipment, including playground elements, at this time. Following the recommendations from our health offices, contact with objects like these has been deemed not safe at this time.
Lastly, next week is Teacher Appreciation Week with the National Day being Tuesday, May 5. Please, send your messages, make a video, tweet something, send an email, but please let your teachers, and everyone in the district working for our community, appreciate their efforts.
In all, I’d like to say that we are returning soon. We are planning for a return, but we are also planning for the possibility that we have to close this year without a physical return to school. So our days are not only spent engaged in our normal April/May work, not only in support of what is needed now, but we continue to plan ahead. I work with administrators from across the state and meet almost daily with colleagues from our Somerset County neighbors. We meet with local officials and organizations and most importantly, I meet with our administrators and staff, our association leaders, and with parents. In all, we are supporting those in need now, but we are constantly planning for the wide variety possible return scenarios. These include plans for our summer and for next year. We are in uncertain times and, across the state, residents are looking for leadership and support.
As reported by so many students, many have “settled in” to DL. We are settling in, too, but never resting. Because we are settling in, communication will continue to, at this point, come more from the building level with district communications coming on Tuesday and Friday. I want to thank all of our administrators, teachers, and staff for providing leadership and support to the B-R community. We have a ways to go, but we will keep moving forward together.
Please continue to make healthy decisions and reach out if you need anything.
Superintendent of Schools