We want our students back. Desperately. Yesterday. All of them. As an educator and as a parent, the fact that our children are missing out on day to day interactions with our staff and with one another is heartbreaking. We also need to keep them safe and healthy. We want to get them back as soon as public health officials declare it is safe by lifting restrictions and mandated school closures.
It seems each day introduces a new vision for what public education may be in the fall. Each with obstacles due to problems related to safety, equity, logistics, or practicality. In listening closely to staff and community voices and discussions with the Governing Board, it is clear that we must focus on what we know and what is within our control; our commitment to provide the very best for our children. This is our nonnegotiable and our foundation.
We acknowledge that current public health recommendations require us to plan to begin school the fourth Thursday in August with distance learning in place. Planning for distance learning will not preclude us from opening school physically to students when we can. Assumptions of when and how we may return are, at best, speculative. We can predict that learning is going to look different in the fall. Our responsibility now is to invest resources and human capital in building structure and capacity for continued distance learning which will play an essential role in any scenario. We need to design a virtual delivery model, using new and existing resources, that includes direct instruction, peer/teacher interaction, accountability and assessment. The pacing of instruction must align with our pre-closure system so whenever our students return, the transition will be seamless. These structures will be prescribed based on best practices and they will take time to build. Collaboration and fidelity will be key.
This is the work we must embark on now to plan for a successful 2020-21 school year.
With these new structures in place, we will be positioned to respond to a variety of scenarios including continued school closures, staggered attendance, hybrid experiences, and students and parents opting to return to school with social distancing requirements in place, or to stay home until there is a vaccine. In all forecasted scenarios, the need for a uniform distance learning structure is the constant.
There are still challenges and uncertainty and we must accept the current conditions. We will face adversities with resolve and with the knowledge that we are all working together for the benefit of our community. The unique circumstances provide an opportunity to explore and develop new and creative ways to meet the needs of our students. I am confident that if we embrace this challenge with humility and solidarity, we will create an environment that we can be proud of.
In summary, our priority moving toward 2020-21 will be preparing robust remote learning with flexibility to return to school seamlessly when conditions change. Planning for the extremes will position us to respond to a variety of scenarios. If we learn over the summer that social distancing regulations have been lifted, we are prepared. If mandated closures are still in place, we are prepared. If 500 students can be on campus at a time, we can pivot, respond, adjust, and accommodate immediately.
Be safe and well.