Living through the pandemic has become our new normal and the rhythms of our work are cycling within that. This is not necessarily good or bad; it is just our being at this time. I continue to believe that we will return to a greater assemblance of how things were over the next year.

Writing newsletter articles have always seemed to have a rhythm of a little of what is going on in the current and components of education about the things of school that often seem foreign from the outside in. For what seems to be so long, but in reality is only a few short months, our worlds have been consumed with the current pandemic and my most common themes in the newsletter.  Each month, I think something else will draw to focus…just not yet.

Naturally, this situation, like many others of the past, draws concern for its impact on our students and their future and often too, causes frustration about our lack of control. These emotions are not exclusive to anyone of us.  All of us at one point or another have or will feel them.

I continue to celebrate the work of our students, the commitment of our staff and the support of our community in this journey. I know that everyone is doing their best and will continue to do so and I also know that in spite of this we will need to find ways to continue to close gaps amongst students as we move forward.

Our first round of basic reading and math screening, known as the FAST has been completed by our Kdg-8th grade students and results demonstrate that some students/grades have not grown at the typical rate while yet have maintained and/or grown. There is always a variance of skill maintained from one year to the next, but an increased degree of variance is evident as anticipated.

While I am confident our students are being provided the best education possible at this time, we also continue to work hard to find even better strategies to hone in on missed skills, to increase the efficiency of students learning and to continue to engage students in this unique learning setting.

We know that we will need to continue to intervene to meet the individual needs of students to decrease their gaps and the systems degree of variance. We will soon begin to plan for more intensive summer school programs than typical to help accomplish these goals.

More immediately though, we need to take the greatest advantages possible of the resources we have throughout the remainder of this year.  The district has invested in several support software to help students close gaps whether at school or at home. These softwares include IXL and to a degree APEX Learning.  These programs provide targeted support based on your student’s skill sets.  Please contact your school administrator or child’s teachers if you want to support your child with these beyond the school day as well as to discuss other potential strategies to help them should you desire.

On Monday of next week, we intend to bring the Jr./Sr. High School back into face-to-face instruction. As of today, while we have students in quarantine due to close contact, we have had no new reported cases of Covid-19 amongst the students. I believe, in most cases, we would all agree that this is a key step to having students learning at their highest level.  I also believe that it is likely that we will need to move students at either or both buildings to virtual again throughout the year.

To not have to do this or to stall it out as long as possible, I ask you again to please consider limiting your children’s contact with others as possible and work to have them keep social distance. Wearing a mask while not the silver bullet certainly has proven to be of benefit to self and others.  Please continue to encourage them to wear one outside of school when social distancing cannot be assured and support us in requiring them to wear them at school as well.

Please enjoy the newsletter as we have much to celebrate and through it I hope you see reflections of the continued work our staff commits to helping our students become the best they can be…even in this difficult time.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.

Lisa Beames