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  • Superintendent's Letter

     

    October 2, 2020

     

    Parents and Students,

    Let me begin by sharing my heartfelt thanks to you as parents and students for your tremendous efforts in making the start of this very unique school year a success. While none of us like the pandemic environment in which we must live currently, it is because of your help in complying with the necessary safety measures and multiple learning environments that we are able to have now experienced five successful weeks of instruction, five days per week either on-line or in-person. In addition I need to let you know how very proud I am of the entire staff of the school district. While every area of our operations has been significantly impacted with an incredible amount of change, the teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, administrators, cooks, maintenance crew, custodians, bus drivers, specialists and district office personnel have been nothing short of remarkable. They continue to invest great amounts of time and effort to keep this unique and challenging system operating so our boys and girls can experience as much in the way of quality instruction and activities as is possible during these pandemic times. I also want to thank the Board of Education for working with us to provide necessary resources to make the start of this school year as successful as it has been.

    We are by no means at a point where we can let our guard down and become complacent by not following well established safety precautions that have been put in place. Are we tired of wearing facial coverings? Yes. Are we tired of not being able to attend all the normal events in support of our beloved Johnnies? Yes. Are we tired of sanitizer, disinfectant and social distancing? Yes. Are we tired of not being able to gather for fun activities with our family and friends? Yes. But it is our compliance with these very things that is allowing us to help control the spread of the COVID-19 virus and in turn allowing us to enjoy the current model of instruction and activities. If we let our guard down and begin to loosen our compliance with these established safety practices this virus can and will begin to spread within our school district. We cannot let that happen. As I have said many times throughout this pandemic, our ability to successfully have our students in our buildings and involved in activities is contingent upon what we as staff, students, parents and community do 24 hours a day 7 days a week in the way of practicing the established safety protocols. While we can maintain controls over these practices while in school, non-compliance outside of school will produce positive cases which can infiltrate our schools quickly and cause significant numbers of quarantines which in turn will disrupt our ability to maintain the current instructional and activity model.

    So what should we expect going forward? As stated clearly in our Return to School Plan, we expect to continue our current model through the end of the 1st semester. We are hopeful that we will not see a significant increase in COVID-19 positive cases in our district that would cause us to close buildings, or the district, and be forced to move to a full remote learning/no activity environment. And we simply cannot allow any switching of student learning environments (i.e. JLA to In-Person or In-Person to JLA) due to the delicate balance we must maintain for social distancing and staffing. We are at maximum levels of students being served in-person (75%) for us to be able to maintain adequate social distancing within our facilities. And your staff who are teaching on-line are at maximum levels (many teaching both in-person and on-line) to be able to maintain adequate teacher/student instructional interaction. Perfect? No. But it is the best we can do under the difficult circumstances in which we are working. We are doing everything we possibly can do to maintain the opportunity for in-person instruction and activities to take place five days per week and avoid the need to move to a hybrid model. Compared to other school districts around the state we are doing exceptionally well. If we find ourselves going into the second semester with more than 75% of our student enrollment desiring in-person learning, then we will have no choice but to move to a hybrid model of instruction that would involve, more than likely, two groups of students attending in-person two days per week with instruction on non-in-person days being on-line. Under this hybrid model teachers would be teaching fully remote one day per week from their classrooms. We do not think such a hybrid model is best for the students or parents of our school district; however, we do not have the capacity in our facilities or programs to maintain adequate social distancing with more than 75% of our students in-person. So we hope to avoid this model if possible. We continue our work with the Licking County Department of Health in constantly monitoring the spread of this virus and during the month of November we will be analyzing parent/student desire for instructional

    environment to set our final model to be implemented in the second semester. And we continue to ready ourselves for the possibility of full remote learning for all students should the spread of the virus in our school district, as we move more indoors for the winter months and into flu season, increase to unacceptable levels for in-person learning and activities. We certainly hope and pray that this does not happen; but, must plan for all options.

    I would like to also extend a sincere thanks and appreciation out to all parents and students who are in our Johnnie Learning Academy on-line instructional program. While I have heard from many parents and students that they are doing well in the JLA environment, I also realize that for some this is very hard given varying parent work schedules and challenges with keeping students engaged on-line. Thanks for the sacrifices you are making to assist our teachers in helping make this learning environment successful during this pandemic.

    The health department and CDC continue to encourage all students, staff, parents and community members to get a flu shot to help lessen the impact of the flu especially when we are also at a time of war against the COVID-19 virus. With the flu having similar symptoms to the COVID-19 virus, it will become increasingly challenging to monitor, diagnose and trace during the upcoming months. Please consider getting your flu shot now.

    I am attaching a copy of the school calendar that was revised in August so that you are fully aware of changes that were made. Of particular note is the fact that there are no Professional Development Days during the school year and the Monday following Spring Break is now an instructional day. While this has been posted on our website since August, I understand that there was some confusion on the part of parents with respect to school day/non-school days and I wanted to make sure you were using the appropriate school calendar. Going forward there will no doubt be times when we may have to add a few two hour early dismissals to accommodate necessary staff training, student data analysis and collaboration; but, every effort will be made to announce these early dismissals early enough for parents to make appropriate plans.

    October 5th through 9th we are having our annual food drive for the local food pantry. Food items may be sent with students to their classrooms or brought to the front door of each building during regular business hours each day next week. The need is great for our food pantry as they are helping many additional families in our community during this time of pandemic. Please consider donating your non-perishable items to our food drive. Our friendly competition with Northridge continues with this food drive and we won last year due to your tremendous support. Let’s work together to surpass last year’s donation of over 20,000 items. This is our opportunity to help others in this time of great need.

     

     

     

    Sincerely,

    Dale L. Dickson

    Superintendent

     

    2020-2021 Revised Calendar

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