Updates from Mr. Dahlberg
June 25, 2020:
We were thrown into a difficult situation this spring when we were given little time to prepare a plan for “out of the building” learning. I feel that our teachers, students, and parents did an excellent job of taking the situation as is and running with it. The high school teachers were cautious to assign too much at that time and we had a lot of issues to work through (internet access for some students, work schedules for others, etc.).
While all teachers, PK-12, tried to make sure that essential concepts and learning were provided to the students, it was difficult to provide an equitable environment for all students. Our teachers take their jobs extremely seriously and were uncomfortable with not being able to work with the kids individually to help them along.
One other thing that is clear about the teachers here in Thedford is that they are already used to working with students individually. They know their students very well. They know their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and take a genuine interest in their everyday lives. Our teachers are greatly equipped to respond to this situation with essential learning throughout the next school year and beyond.
My intention is to begin school on time (August 13th for 7-12; August 19th for K-6) and to remain in school until our last scheduled day in May. At this point in time, it looks like we will be able to make those decisions locally. At the same time, I foresee the need for distance/online learning for the following situations:
If a student has an extended absence due to any illness.
If a student’s family ends up testing positive for COVID-19 and needs to self quarantine.
If parents are concerned about sending their students to school due to the pandemic.
For any of the students that fall into the above categories, it will be important to know that our distance/online learning will look different this fall than it did in the spring. While we are still making plans for this, a few of the expectations will include:
Students in grades 7-12 (maybe even 4-6) will need to be in attendance online during their classes, unless the illness that they are dealing with does not allow them to do so. This may be through zoom or Google meetings and will have to be determined on an individual basis.
Lessons will be recorded and shared with students/parents in lower grades or for those that are too ill to be in attendance online.
All work that is done in class will be required to be done by the students that are doing online/distance learning and due dates will be the same (unless they are unable to attend the sessions due to illness…again, on an individual basis).
One question that did come up is whether or not students that are using online/distance learning will be allowed to participate in activities. While we have not made that determination officially yet, my thought is that they need to be in the building in order to participate in activities. If they are sick, they should not participate. If parents are concerned about sending them to school, then they probably should be concerned about sending them to activities as well.
As always, I greatly appreciate and look forward to any and all input I have on these topics going forward. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, thoughts, ideas, or concerns!
We recently received word from the NSAA that summer activities and camps can commence as normal starting on July 1st. From the looks of things, we will be allowed to have activities starting this fall. I will focus more on activities in my next update.
June 18, 2020:
It has been three months since we were forced to send the students home and finish the year through distance and online learning. It was a crazy, unprecedented ending to our school year, but we all were able to roll up our sleeves and do what had to be done. We appreciate the teachers for their quick work in converting to online/distance learning while also taking into account the needs of the students. We greatly appreciate the students for stepping up and completing the work at home, especially with added distractions that they don’t normally have to deal with. Finally, we greatly appreciate the parents for making learning a priority throughout the spring.
As we move more into the summer, it is clear that things are starting to ramp back up. Baseball and softball teams are practicing and getting ready for games this week, students have been in the weight room training for the upcoming school year, volleyball players also are starting to participate in open gyms, and more and more restrictions are being lifted.
One of the biggest questions now is what will the fall look like. My hope is to provide this information throughout the next few weeks and let everyone in on the planning. This is not only to inform parents, students, and community members what our plans are, but to encourage input from all areas. Please do not hesitate to contact me at the school to ask questions or provide feedback to our planning. In fact, there is a survey on our Facebook page for parents, students, and community members to fill out if they choose!
At this time, plans are not concrete. I am hesitant to have too many things set in stone at this time, because guidelines and expectations are likely to change over the course of the next two months. At the same time, I would like to provide you with some of the things we are considering at this time.
Our number one priority is to make sure that we can create a safe environment for our students that is conducive to learning. If things continue the way they have been moving, I feel confident that we will be in session on time in August. Some of the considerations that we are looking into/planning for are:
Cleaning – We are looking at ways to utilize staff members to help with additional cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas, tables, desks, and playground equipment.
Hygiene – We will continue to focus on teaching and encouraging good hygiene from the students (washing hands, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping hands to themselves, etc.)
Scheduling – We will be looking at the possibility of rotating recess time so only one group is out at a time and how our lunch schedule can be revamped to keep social distancing possible.
Masks –I do not foresee us requiring masks at all times, but there may be some times (passing time, assemblies, bus rides, etc.) where they will be strongly recommended/required. This will be determined by our conversations with our local health department and what the current health measures state. Students and staff that wish to wear masks or face coverings will certainly be allowed to.
Attendance policies – We will be looking at our attendance policies to make sure that there are no barriers to students staying home when they are sick. We will strongly be encouraging our students and staff to stay home when they are sick.
Temperature Checks – I do not foresee us doing temperature checks every day, but we may have some checks done throughout the week.
Online/distance classes – Teachers are being encouraged to continue developing online and distance materials for their classes. This would be for the purpose of keeping things going if we are forced to close again, for students that are out with extended illnesses, for students of families that need to self-quarantine, and other situations that may arise.
I think the important thing to realize is that we will not be “back to normal” for quite some time. While I strongly hope and believe that we will have the students back in the building this fall, we may need to implement some rules for the time being. These could include not allowing parents into the building to drop off their kids, only allowing a certain number of spectators in the gym if we have activities, not having the playground open in the afternoon, and so on.
In my next update, I will focus on lost learning from this spring and how we are looking to respond this fall, as well as discuss what some of the online/distance learning options may look like when we come back. Again, I look forward to any and all input I receive and I am excited to welcome the kids back as much as we possibly can in August!