Dear LRHSD Families and Staff,
We hope you are enjoying your summer. We don’t want to rush through break, but we are really looking forward to welcoming our staff and students back for the 2020-2021 school year. “Operation Open LRHSD” is well underway, with committees working feverishly to develop a district reopening plan and protocols that meet the guidelines in the state’s Restart and Recovery Plan and the Governor’s latest mandate to develop some form of in-person instruction. We want to provide you with an update on that planning process and next steps.
Please keep in mind that the current public health situation is constantly evolving, which requires us to plan for multiple scenarios for our return to school. Our scheduling plans range from fully open for some students, hybrid for most, and fully remote for a select group. We take pride in approaching every new undertaking at LRHSD with a great level of thought, planning and preparation, and this situation is no different. We believe we are well positioned to have multiple plans in place that address the diverse needs of our students, and also enable us to easily transition the majority of our students from one model to the next as circumstances beyond our control change.
We realize no one plan will satisfy everyone, nor will one plan help us fully accomplish our main goals. We share the same frustrations as many of you who want both to keep yourselves and loved ones safe and also reopen schools for quality instruction and interactions. As educators, we especially want to see our students as often as possible and maximize instructional time with them. Under normal circumstances, our student schedule accomplishes that and much more. However, these are not normal circumstances, and we cannot have a normal schedule; educational health will not come at the expense of everyone’s health.
Through “Operation Open LRHSD,” we are planning on a safe return by tapping into the strength of our school community. We surveyed students, parents and staff, and we currently have 180 volunteers working on six different committees. They are: Safety & Physical/Mental Health, Curriculum & Instruction, Personnel, Athletics & Activities, Finance & Operations, Facilities, Transportation and Meals. Members work in all aspects of our large organization as we understand we must all work together and share our ideas and expertise to navigate the complexities of keeping our students and staff safe in our schools today. We also enlisted our district physicians, Drs. Holton and Hickey, to work with our Safety & Physical/Mental Health Committee and our school nurses.
Although our committees are still at work, we can share a broad overview of our district reopening plan in that it will include requiring masks for everyone in and on school property, and in consultation with our district physicians provide safe opportunities for mask breaks to be taken throughout the day, social distance, disinfecting protocols, daily health screenings, lunchtime, Covid-19 trainings, professional development, social/emotional supports, academic supports, student daily attendance, extracurricular programming, updated policies and much more.
As far as our proposed schedules, we will accommodate in-person instruction by dividing our school population into two cohorts, by last name. Students will attend school on alternating days, receiving virtual instruction on the days they are not in the school building. That splitting into cohorts will help give us space for social distancing in our schools, which is repeatedly called for in the state’s plan.
We will provide 100% in-person instruction, without alternating days, for select self-contained classes or specialized programs. We will also allow for flexibility with remote options for those students and staff who cannot return to school physically due to medical or other concerns related to COVID-19.
The committees will develop additional details on all aspects of the plan, including the start and end times for the school day, in the next phase of planning. Lastly, to ensure equity in this hybrid model, we will distribute a district-owned Chromebook to every LRHSD student before classes begin.
As the CDC is set to release revised guidance for educational institutions this week, and as the list of states surging with positive cases around us grows, we know that this reopening plan for an in-person hybrid model may not come to fruition, like we hope, on September 8th. We will continue to follow the directives of our state and local officials and the advice of our health experts, and we will provide you with any major updates to our current plan.
Our past successes navigating this pandemic have come from constant, two-way communication between school and home. We are committed to maintaining that level of communication through the next school year. We appreciate your patience, understanding and support as we work at a fast pace and in an ever-changing environment that often presents us with more questions than answers. We are doing our best by doing what we always do: putting our LRHSD students first.
We will announce our reopening plan with more specific details and new protocols - at the latest - by the second week in August. Please know that there will be much more communication from us about this plan, especially as it becomes more concrete and gets final approval.
Parents, please contact your school principal if you have any general questions right now, and contact your child’s school counselor with more specific, individual inquiries.
Thank you, and be safe,
Dr. Carol L. Birnbohm
Superintendent of Schools