May Message from Dr. Mike Lucas
The following letter was sent to all District 66 staff members and parents/guardians on May 4, 2020.
We made it to May! Wow, it’s been quite the journey since late February/early March. As we head into the final few days of the 2019-20 school year, I wanted to send out one final note of gratitude with some updates as we prepare for the unknowns of this summer and the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
First off, THANK YOU again to all of our students, families, community supporters, teachers, school administrators, and district staff for how you have handled this ongoing global pandemic. This has been a monumental challenge for everyone involved and we appreciate your support and work as we handle it the best we can. Many challenges still lie ahead but we know that working together allows us a better chance to stay positive and weather the storm as a community and as a team.
We would also like to once again thank all of the healthcare professionals working hard on a daily basis to help keep us safer. Our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers have been amazing and we are thankful for their expertise and work! Also, we want to acknowledge and thank all transportation and logistics personnel and front-line workers in grocery stores and other essential businesses that continue to provide us with the supplies and services we need. We have many heroes among us right here within the District 66 family!
School ends on Wednesday, May 13th. We continue to make preparations for students/families to return school owned materials and pick up personal belongings in a social distancing, safe manner between May 15th-22nd. Information about the process your school(s) will use will be sent home this week, if they haven’t been already. Please contact your building principal with any questions you might have.
There is still much uncertainty as we head into the summer and the 2020-21 school year. We are hoping to receive some state-level guidance later this month as to what will/will not be acceptable for June-August and beyond. We continue to plan for all kinds of scenarios. We will keep you posted in the coming weeks/months as we forge ahead together.
School for the 2020-21 year is scheduled to begin on August 13th but we are NOT writing that in stone as of today. It is too early to tell. We hear we might not be able to begin school until September. f that is the case, we would adjust our calendar so we could begin with in-person, traditional classes in September and extend through parts of June 2021. We do not want to begin the next school year with at-home, extended campus learning if we can help it. Stay tuned.
We do know that before we do begin the 2020-21 school year, we are committed to having Kindergarten Round-Up, Middle School “Warrior Walk-About” orientation, and 9th grade orientation as those transitional pieces are critical to our students’ success in new surroundings.
We also hear we might be able to begin school in August or September but then have to re-close in October and/or November to help “re-flatten the curve” as we head into the winter. We hear that “social distancing” is here for the long haul and that has us looking at alternative ways to provide high-quality instruction. We might have in-person classes for half of our students on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other half on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an alternating Friday schedule, and at-home, computerized learning on days students aren’t in school. We know we have students and staff with compromised immune systems and we are working on plans to support their needs for when we return to traditional school settings.
We are working on adjustments to our extended campus approach if/when we need it again. We plan to include more direct instruction and scheduled, formal check-ins between students/staff. We are revamping our cleaning processes and procedures to meet updated recommendations. We have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks/months. This is a moving target and we will continue to do the best we can.
Westside Community Schools is collaborating on a weekly basis with other metro area school districts, the Commissioner of Education’s office, and other state-level entities to be as proactive in our planning as possible. We are all committed to find the best and safest ways to move forward in a positive fashion.
In closing, I just want everyone who reads this to know that we appreciate your efforts and support, we are thankful you share your children with us, and that we are committed to doing everything we can to be prepared for whatever comes our way in the next few months as we work to meet the challenges of our new normal. We still have more questions than answers but we have a large group of talented and dedicated educational professionals who are working around the clock to set us up for continued success in 2020-21. “We are Westside” and we plan to come back better and stronger than ever.
Westside Community Schools