Dear Christina Family and Friends,
The last few months have been trying on all of us to say the least. We are faced with the most stressful and impactful events of our students' generation. Each of us has had to deal with our own stress, trauma and issues as we have navigated the new world that has changed due to COVID. We want to thank all of our students, families, faculty, staff and community for the support and patience they have shown us as we have worked diligently to develop a plan on how to move forward with teaching and learning while simultaneously protecting our Christina Family.
To summarize, in brief, when the Governor closed schools on March 16, 2020, we were honestly ill-prepared to deliver the highest quality instruction to our students remotely. We struggled with access to the internet and technology, and the materials and strategies to effectively connect with our students. The Governor charged school districts with developing three plans this summer for when students returned to school and be prepared ‘to pivot’ as the situations changed locally and throughout the state. At the state level, the Secretary of Education facilitated working groups to develop guidance for how we should execute those plans. While this work was going on at the State level, the Christina School District embarked on planning with the information they had at the time. Three groups, Health and Wellness, Academics and Equity, and Operations and Services, began to meet in June to prepare three plans to meet the directive we expected from the Governor and the Secretary of Education. In the end, we were given two sets of guidelines and told that we should determine at the local level what model we would follow based on our own conditions and criteria. This extra step has taken a bit of time to work through. We cannot stress enough that the safety and Wellbeing of our Families and Staff is our number one priority. It has been our job to balance this primary focus with how we can maximize the learning opportunities available for our students. We have also worked to determine what are the priorities for which students and programs should return first and how best to serve all students in a remote environment.
Please understand the new ‘COVID World’ shifts and changes daily. Our plan is purposeful in its design. We have clear guidelines established for what a safe learning environment looks like for all and under each set of circumstances. We also have flexible portions of the plan around the delivery of services and our educational programs in order to ensure we are maximizing learning opportunities for all at each stage. We intend to have a virtual option available for at least the first semester, if not for the entire school year, for families that feel that is the only way their children will be safe. We will begin with a six-week period of full remote instruction. During this time, COVID testing of staff and ensuring all protocols are understood and followed will be established. We intend to bring cohorts of students back into our buildings as soon as it is safe to ensure we maximize their educational experiences.
Our plan is a living document that will be constantly updated. Please visit www.christinak12.org/reopening regularly to see the changes as updates, which we will highlight to make it easy to follow. We hope that the document in its original form will answer questions that our Christina Families have, and that future iterations will answer the questions that follow and provide the necessary guidance.
To be clear, for this plan to work, our educators must be the role models that the community expects of them and follow the protocols and guidance set out by the State and CDC both in school and when they are at home. Our families must make choices for what they feel will be best for their situation. We all have to be diligent to continue to wear our masks, remain socially distant, and wash our hands regularly to protect from the spread of the virus.
We hope that everyone understands the very complex task that was placed in front of us. I cannot thank enough the hundreds of Teachers, Staff, Administrators, Community Members and Parents who have participated in the working groups this summer to set the guidelines and expectations we needed to build this initial plan. Without your commitment to our families and students, we would not be where we are. We are all indebted to you.
Please continue to engage in our surveys and send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your commitment to the Health, Well-being and Education of ALL of our Children.
Dr. Dan Shelton
Christina School District