Hello, Sun Prairie Staff and Families,
I hope this message finds you doing well! This letter is to accompany a video message I recorded and is intended to provide additional information as we wrap up this school year and plan for fall. Topics in the video have corresponding timestamps.
1. Forward Dane (Timestamp: 0:40)
- We will receive recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and Wisconsin Department of Health Services that impact our plans for fall reopening. State government decisions will also impact us:
- Statutes for instructional minutes/hours, allowances for defining the work week for students
- State requirements for educator evaluation, transportation requirements, and other mandates, such as the possible suspension of mandates like the civics exam
- State/Federal requirements for standardized testing
- The guidance released by Public Health Madison and Dane County according to their Forward Dane plan will serve as the primary information we use to build our plan for fall reopening.
- Once guidance becomes clear, we will think through how it impacts specific schools, grade levels, and programs within the district. Depending on guidelines, it may impact some operations within the district differently.
- It is important to note that the plan for businesses to reopen is not lock-step with the plan for school districts to reopen. Public Health Madison Dane County will issue a separate set of guidelines for schools in considering fall reopening options. This may be confusing when comparing business to schools and because each county will have different reopening guidelines.
2. Planning for the Fall Reopening of School (Pre-Vaccination) (Timestamp: 1:55)
- School districts across the nation are working together and with their state education agencies and government health partners to determine plans for fall instruction. We are too.
- We are currently exploring every option we can think of for fall reopening, which includes distance learning, in-person learning, and hybrid models. We will methodically complete the process of evaluating possible fall reopening options by criteria from the state reopening guide.
- For example: A model that may allow the option for students to attend face-to-face for a partial week is favorable for instructional goals and supports social-emotional connection. However, this option is not as favorable for infection mitigation, is complex and costly for school transportation, and is logistically challenging for families with children at more than one school in the district.
- We Predict: It is almost certain that we will not be returning to school in the same way we did before COVID-19. It is unlikely that we will have in-person instruction for five days a week like we did before. We want to let you know this early. We know this means that parents must plan now for childcare.
3. Transportation (Timestamp: 3:56)
- We are collecting information to help us plan for the fall in any scenario we eventually determine. This includes a family’s plans to utilize transportation. Transportation registration only indicates a family’s plan for transportation use; it does not speak to what type of model of instruction our reopening plan will take. Please look for an email in the near future.
4. Improving Our Models (Timestamp: 4:33)
- We learned a lot from being in a distance learning environment for three months. While our staff, students, and families did an amazing job transitioning to distance learning in March, we know that our first attempt at distance learning was only a temporary solution. The administrative team will work with staff to create a plan that meets our vision of Relevance, Engagement, and Innovation in a distance learning or blended learning setting.
5. Feedback (Timestamp: 5:11)
- We have been and will continue to be committed to getting feedback, and this scenario is not any different. Normally, we could have an open house or a gallery walk to help us communicate the complexity of a decision like fall reopening. Because of COVID, we aren’t able to engage in our normal ways. Instead, I will lean on our Parent Leadership Collaborative (a group of parent representatives from all schools who meet monthly) to get feedback on fall reopening planning from families.
- In addition, there will be many workgroups meeting throughout the summer on a variety of topics related to our fall reopening plan. We are committed to including students, families, staff, and the community in the process. We will communicate more about these opportunities for feedback as soon as information becomes available.
6. SPASD Equity Work (Timestamp: 6:00)
- I want to acknowledge here and now that many of our African American friends, fellow community members, neighbors, and colleagues are hurting immensely right now. Board President Steve Schroeder and I issued a statement on behalf of the Board and SPASD on May 29th. In it we said we would not be silent on this topic and that the SPASD has been and will continue to be focused on action in locating and dismantling racist and discriminatory policy, practices, and behavior in our school system.
- I invite you to examine the SPASD Equity Framework, which lays out our specific plan for action. It includes:
- Community partnerships (Community Schools)
- System-wide capacity (Equity in Strategic Planning)
- Equity Teams at all schools
- Formal adoption of the Teaching Tolerance Standards in our Social Studies Curriculum K-12
- An intense focus on staff development (over 100 separate opportunities for equity-focused staff development over the last three years 1,000 teachers, administrators, and staff have participated in that staff development over the last three years!)
7. Conclusion (Timestamp: 7:24)
- One of the most difficult things about this convergence of historical crises is that we don’t have all of the answers for all of the questions.
- Recently, I saw a post on social media that asked, What if 2020 isn’t cancelled but is the year we’ve been waiting for, for all of us to come together to make change? What if 2020 is the most important year of them all?
- I wholeheartedly agree, not only because this plays to my optimism, but also because I know that what we can accomplish together is far more than what we can do in isolation. Our students, families, and community members are what we are all for, not against. These are our people. They deserve our best and most collaborative work.
- This will be a time of brave and honest communication. I want to assure you that we will make decisions while grounded in our Vision and Mission of SPASD, with safety as our number one priority, and with feedback from our community.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to know more about a specific topic, feel free to reach out.
Wishing you all the best,
Translation -Click the settings button on the video to change the language of the subtitles