Dear South Central Students & Parents/Guardians:
I hope the summer is treating everyone well, and that you are finding time to do activities with family and friends.
I wanted to communicate to you the progress being made over the past few months with regards to the 2020-21 school year. I have been participating in weekly Zoom meetings with the Huron County superintendents and the Huron County Health District, regional and state Zoom meetings with superintendents, and participating in numerous webinars with Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and law firms. We are all attempting to dissect the COVID-19 pandemic and what protocols should be adopted by local school districts to safely and wisely “re-open” our school buildings, hopefully back to a “normal” schedule.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) and Ohio’s “Responsible RestartOhio” website (www.coronavirus.ohio.gov) provide valuable and updated resources on guidelines (both mandatory and recommended best practices) entities use when restarting. School leaders have relied on these documents and guidelines throughout the summer.
I convened a team, chaired by Mr. Tyler Lauber, of both administrators and teachers to strategically work together on some draft planning of our school’s expectations for the 2020-21 school year. Relying on the student/parent/guardian Google survey data from a few months ago, the team knows that students, parents/guardians and teachers desire clear and consistent expectations for assignments and grading, consistency of on-line learning platforms (for example, all classrooms using Zoom), and increased communication between school to home and home to school. These pieces, obviously, focus on a continuation of a remote, or hybrid (combination of remote and traditional/on campus), learning system. Should we be able to return completely to a traditional/on campus learning system, the team also realizes that the teachers and support staff may experience academic gaps with some students, simply because there were less academic content standards taught than in prior years during fourth quarter, and the simple fact that the school system asked all parents/guardians to become “teachers,” and not all of our parents/guardians wanted that profession! However, I am extremely proud of how our parents/guardians accepted that challenge and worked hard to “teach” their children.
There are certain things the district has already committed to, regardless of how we start school in the fall. Each classroom/learning space, and peppered throughout the hallways, will have a hand sanitizer station installed. Zoom licenses were purchased for every teacher and administrator; in the event we have remote or hybrid learning, this provides technology consistency for families. The custodial staff is diligently deep-cleaning our buildings this summer, and will continue to do so throughout the school year.
My team and I will continue to work towards a final plan on starting school in August 2020. The plan will be approved by the South Central Board of Education and the Huron County Health District (very similar procedure that we underwent for the graduation ceremony). As the summer continues, I will continue with my Zoom meetings, gleaning additional updates from the Governor’s Office and ODE/ODH to provide our school system with the best possible 2020-21 school year plan that is safe and able to deliver high quality instruction regardless of setting. Please understand, however, that whatever plan we adopt to start the school year has the potential of changing as the year progresses. The virus might spike in our county or school district, ODE/ODH might issue updated guidelines, or the governor might issue another school campus closure.
I want nothing more than to have our children back on campus; I miss them! But I also want everyone to be safe. Those are the challenges I and my colleagues are grappling with, all while the COVID-19 guidelines are continually modified and changed. You can trust that I will work tirelessly to meet those two challenges.
On July 2, 2020, Governor DeWine unveiled guidelines and recommendations for the reopening of our schools. Now that these parameters and guidelines have been provided to us, we will immediately begin the finalization of our plans for South Central Local Schools.
Should you have specific questions or concerns about the 2020-21 school year, please feel welcome to call the district office at 419-752-3815 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I might not have a definitive answer to questions at that moment, but will share what I do know.
We have a strong and supportive school system. I’m proud every day to lead the district, even during these challenging times. We will survive…
Together we can,
Ben Chaffee, Jr.
South Central Local Schools