Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development, providing academic instruction, social and emotional skills, supervision and safety, nutritional meals, physical and mental health therapy, opportunities for self-expression through physical activity and the arts, and a plethora of other benefits. Schools are critical to the economic success of the community not only in terms of the quality of graduates produced, but in supervising the children of the workforce during the course of the business day. These very responsibilities and obligations continue to serve as fundamental principles in the development of reopening plans for the 2020.21 school year; however, the health, safety, and welfare of our students, families, staff, and community have been and will remain our primary focus. Any and all plans must meet the rigorous reopening guidance provided by the Delaware Department of Education, other governing agencies, and any and all aspects of Executive Orders issued by Governor John Carney.
To this end, the BSD Reopening of Schools Plan adheres to or exceeds all required safety requirements and protocols outlined the Delaware Department of Education's "Returning to School: Planning a Safe, Efficient, and Equitable Return to School for Students and Staff" guiding document. In addition, the District has adopted additional health and safety protocols and procedures recommended by the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and will continue to modify practices as new guidance is released by these health agencies.
The BSD Administrative Team has spent the last several months learning, researching, and planning for the reopening of schools. We administered a student, parent, and staff survey to gain perspective regarding the remote learning experience that we were thrust into last March. The constructive criticism gleaned from that survey has guided the work of our Curriculum & Instruction and Technology Departments this summer. Professional development sessions have been developed and offered to staff based on areas of need identified in the survey responses. An additional survey was administered to parents to gain a sense of the learning mode they preferred for their child, full remote or some type of in-person instruction, as well as to determine the need for district-provided transportation. The information from this survey was essential in determining the specifics of what instructional models could be offered due to the restrictions of students per classroom and similar restrictions regarding transporting students on buses.
BSD's plan principles include:
1. Prioritize attention to the health and wellness of students, staff, and community members.
2. Maximize the quality and substance of the educational experience of students.
3. Meet the unique and diverse needs of family situations and conditions.
4. Accept the challenge, embrace change, be innovative in the service of our children.
Collectively, we hope for an end to this disease as soon as possible, but experts forecast the anticipated return to normalcy could be months, if not years, away. For the present time, it is imperative that we work together closely for the benefit of our children. Students, parents, and staff will all have to face and come to terms with the differences between what we've grown accustomed to in previous school years and the differences of this coming year. Students will learn, there will be growth, but in order to maximize the learning potential, teachers and parents must be working in sync and actively monitoring the engagement, learning, and success of each child. Without question, students will be socially and emotionally affected by any deviation other than the expected norm. The degree to which our children are affected is often directly proportional to how the adults in their lives react and respond.
Months ago, I heard the comment "Never waste a crisis." Think about it for a moment. What at first seems paradoxical holds a great deal of wisdom. Every crisis results in new learning -- lessons learned on what to do and what not to do. A crisis can bring dissimilar parties, even warring factions, together in the best interest of all. A crisis creates genuine empathy and selfless service to others for a common good. The lifespan of a crisis is dictated by the severity of impact and the availability of resources/solutions to remediate or the lack thereof. Either way, the scarcity or absence of needed remedies spawns ingenuity, creativity, and innovation to eliminate and/or mitigate affects. In the end, "never waste a crisis" is rallying cry to understanding the value of learning and working together as a means of survival.
COVID-19 is our crisis -- not our first and probably not our last. What crises will our children and their children face? How will they know how to deal with those crises that will inevitably come their way. The answer lies in that simple advice above. How we respond, what our children witness, in attitude and action, teaches them how to face, resolve, and survive significant challenges and crises. A crisis is a teachable moment. How each of us individually and collectively respond are life lessons that our children will emulate as they experience the crises that tomorrow will surely bring.
Regardless of your profession or trade, you are your child's most influential teacher. Your students, our children, are watching. What lesson will you teach?
Let's work together to provide evidence that despite the losses and suffering produced by COVID-19, it was used to teach valuable life lessons and that we didn't waste the opportunity presented.
Please Note: The content detailed in this plan is based on the information known to the District as of the date of its publication and is intended to supersede any conflicting District rules, protocols, or guidelines during the time of its application. Changes will most likely need to be made periodically given the fluid nature of COVID-19 spread, as well as evolving medical research, improved data sets, changes made to local, state, and national orders and regulations, and other factors. To continue to meet the needs of students and our community, this plan will be reviewed and adjusted, as necessary. A running list of all changes will be cited on the "Revisions" page. Stakeholders will be notified by email and/or phone message of substantive revisions, additions, and deletions.