Dear Springville-Griffith Institute School Community:
It is with great optimism and enthusiasm that I look forward to welcoming our students and employees back to school in September, 2020. I love the fresh start that every new school year brings and this September will prove to be unlike any before it. I would like to thank all of you for your patience in this unprecedented time and support of our schools as we work to return our children to school.
No one would have believed that our closure in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic would continue for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Everyone, most of all our families and teachers, did their best to figure out how to manage in a time of crisis, while doing our best to continue learning for our students. With September one month away, we have worked to develop a plan that keeps the health and safety of our students, staff and families our top priority.
This plan was developed with a committee of stakeholders to include our entire administrative team, a Board of Education representative, parent representatives, a school nurse, a school counselor and teachers from across our buildings, subject areas and grade levels, and transportation personnel. I am grateful to this group of hard working people who volunteered to work tirelessly in the two weeks we had to put this plan together.
We relied heavily on the July 13, 2020 Department of Health guidance for in-person instruction, the New York State Education Department Reopening Guidance, the Erie 2 Regional Reopening Playbook, and most of all, on the common sense and caring of our committee members. Thank you to those members of the DOH, NYSED, and Erie 2 Workgroup who worked to provide us with clear guidance on which to base our SGI Plan.
We will share this plan by every means of distribution we have: on our website, via social media, providing paper copies where desired, and alerting our school community to the content by collaborating with local news media and through our parent broadcast system.
We are here to support, care for and love our students. We are here to keep them safe and to help them to learn and grow. We want our students to return to school 5 days a week for as much of the school year as possible. We believe that a measured approach is our safest and most responsible way forward. We will return students to school with 2 days of in-person learning and 3 days of remote learning for every student. Students K-12 will be divided into two cohorts, with half attending in-person on Mondays/Tuesdays and the other half attending in-person on Thursdays/Fridays, all students attending school remotely on Wednesdays, and each group attending remotely on their non in-person days. The details of this hybrid model are within the following plan. Decisions about moving to full in-person or full remote will be made one month at a time, and will likely be determined for us by the governor’s executive orders.
We learned some lessons during the time of our remote learning from March-June, 2020. When we surveyed our school community in late April, 2020 to ask “What’s gone well during the closure?”, the #1 rated comment was “The love from the district has been shown throughout the closure. I’m proud to be part of the SGI community.” The #2 highest rated thought was “I see our faculty and staff really pulling together during this time and providing each other with support. Also, a true willingness to help out. I think it has given us an opportunity to reflect on what is truly important in our lives both professionally and personally.”
This is my 32nd year as an educator, my 21st as a school leader. This has been the hardest time of my career and yet, I believe I saw the true character of our collective community and it gives me much hope for the future. People rose to every challenge and did so with the best of intentions. From teachers moving to remote learning, to counselors and administrators finding ways to celebrate our children at the end of the year to the 950 children who received meals on a daily basis–Springville-Griffith Institute CSD stepped up and took care of our families and each other. Our families stepped up and managed a total disruption to life as we knew it.
This is what we need to continue to do as we move forward in the 2020-21 school year. We must persevere. We must strive to do more for our children. We must continue learning for our students and maximize every opportunity. We must take recommended precautions in the hope that we can resume school as it once was, only better. I envision a return in which we all have more love and respect and empathy for each other, one in which we judge less and work harder to support our families and our colleagues. Most importantly, I want all of our children, staff and families to be healthy and safe.
The following page shows what our Springville Guiding Coalition, a group of parents, students, teachers, administrators and BOE members, have developed over the last two weeks. In answering the question, “what do we most believe about learning and what do we want our schools to be?”, they developed the mission, vision and belief statements that follow. Now is the time to rethink our schools and our practices to focus more than ever on what’s most important for our students during the short time that we have together.
With much love and hope for our future,
Superintendent of Schools