Hello SOMSD Family,
We hope this correspondence finds you and your families healthy and well. As we enter into our Memorial Day Holiday weekend, allow me to be among the first to wish you a restful and rejuvenating time with lots of sunshine and smiles. I am comfortable stating that none of us have ever entered this joyous time of year with more angst about the present or anxiety about the future (than we are currently experiencing).
We understand and acknowledge the grief that exists in our school community. We are grieving the loss of our shared experiences. We are grieving the loss of our daily face-to-face interactions (our jokes, our debates, our hugs etc.). We are grieving the loss of our culminating activities that some have waited a lifetime for. In short, we miss our school lives…our normalcy. However, some in our community, are grieving the literal loss of a loved one. To all who are coping with that unimaginable toll, we wish you peace.
Please know that your District’s leadership is working tirelessly in planning for whatever our new normal will be. We are preparing for our summer offerings and the fall return. We have learned so much from our current emergent circumstances. We are learning to be nimble, understanding that we may need to switch between a traditional school setting and distance learning (or a hybrid model) without much notice. We have learned that we as a District must expedite our planned investment in our technology; to that end our Board recently approved $500,000 towards the procurement of 2,500 Chromebooks to replace antiquated equipment and move us closer to a one-to-one ratio (device to student).
Most importantly, we have learned that what began as a temporary emergency measure may very well be with us far longer than any of us expected. To that end, we have spoken with our SOMEA partners (our collective bargaining unit for our teachers) and will be working together to plan for what we believe will be vast improvements in our distance learning capacity (which will include extensive professional development prior to the 2020-2021 school year). We will also be reviewing multiple digital platforms to determine a more streamline prescriptive approach, that will result in our distance learning methodology being more consistent (while protecting privacy), age-appropriate, and most of all safe for both students and teachers.
In closing, we are reviewing your responses to our digital distance learning survey and using your feedback to inform our plans (if you have not yet submitted survey feedback please click here). We are launching a School Re-opening Task Force that will include many representative members from our internal school community to ensure that we are taking into consideration the possible unintended consequences of well-intentioned ideas.
Lastly, as we enter the final weeks of the school year, please be assured that we are still here for you. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers and school leaders.
Thank you, wishing you and your families well.
Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools