Submitted by Fred Woods
As we move into the final week before the schools’ winter break, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for your support during this unprecedented and difficult time for our students and families. I also want to wish you the happiest of holidays. This is my favorite of all seasonal celebrations. Yes, the lights are up at our house and I look forward to spending time at home and eating all the food that is supposedly not good for me.
Though 2020 has not been much fun, there is light at the end of the tunnel and the holiday season marks the welcome beginning of our move toward normal daily life.
Many of our families have reached out to share information and their desire to “get the kids back to school.” Others have expressed great concern and a fear of returning. I just want to let you know that I hear you. Pausing the on-campus hybrid classes for our youngest students, grades K-1 between Thanksgiving and winter break was based solely on community health data. The program was working well and we look forward to returning to it.
Currently, school committees and the administration are developing in-person hybrid models for all grade levels. This is a very complex process, as the District serves ALL students on the island. Therefore, we must include plans for in-person teaching concurrently with remote learning. With careful planning, and possibly some additional hiring, I am confident that we will make this happen.
At this time, we plan to resume teleschooling on Jan. 4, the first day back to school after winter break. Then two weeks after, on Jan. 19, kindergarten-second-grade will return to the hybrid schedule. This two-week period after the break will allow for the quarantine of anyone exposed to COVID-19 over the holiday break. It is our hope that shortly thereafter we can include grades three through five. We are also developing plans to begin the second semester in a hybrid model for grades six through 12. The key phrase is “at this time,” as we have all learned that our situation can change rapidly.
We will continue discussions with the health department and to follow state guidelines and health recommendations. We plan to be fully prepared to take action as data margins for safety improve and the doors to our classrooms open again to the joyous sounds of students flowing in.
I wish for all a very safe and restful winter break. We will resume this conversation, and many others, in January. Again, thank you for your support. Please stay home and stay safe during the holidays.