The following letter was distributed Friday, Sept. 4 by RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean:
Dear RSU # 71 Students, Families, Staff and School Board,
Congratulations to everyone for an awesome first week back to in-person instruction! It was very successful thanks to the hard work of all of you!!
Students - We are amazed and delighted by how well prepared our K-12 students were! They came to school with face masks, were prepared to wear them throughout the day, understood that social distancing was necessary, and frequently washed and sanitized their hands. Students who momentarily forgot the necessary protocols -- such as students waiting for the bus to WCTC - were easily redirected (by me in this example). We are very grateful for students' cooperation and willingness to easily follow the rules. We are grateful, too, to parents, grandparents, and guardians who clearly had a hand in preparing students for success.
Transportation - We are also grateful to families for helping us transport students to and from school each day. Most of the bus runs allow for plenty of social distancing between students on buses. Car traffic has caused a bit of a jam in our larger schools such that arrivals and dismissals, though very orderly and safe, are taking rather longer than we would like. We are working on ways to stagger arrivals and departures so that these arrivals and departures take less time in the coming days and weeks. I saw one father who rode a bicycle -built-for-two to CASS and left with his daughter in the second seat -- so heart-warming! Again, many thanks to families for doing their part to help everyone stay safe and many thanks to staff members who assisted outside.
Open Houses and Orientations - Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of this week featured well-attended events at each school. It was wonderful to see so many happy students, parents, and staff members enjoying the opportunity to meet one another in person! The only challenge has been refraining from hugging one another with joy -- but we are all becoming good at virtual hugs and high fives! Students' shining eyes and voices conveyed to me that they were smiling beneath their masks. Even our youngest learners, who sometimes tend quite naturally to have a bit of separation anxiety on the first days of school, did not seem to do so this year. This is a tribute to our stellar students, their fabulous families, and our rock-star staff.
Remote Learning - We are very nearly ready to begin Phase II of our Reopening, for students and families choosing Remote Learning. Our superb Assistant Superintendent Laura Miller and one of our super-talented Technology Integrators, Tracy Hayslip, met for several hours yesterday with teachers who will be leading remote learning for our K-5 students. These teachers will be working with one or two grade levels of K-5 students from elementary schools across the district and will also be providing a professional learning cohort for one another, meeting weekly on Friday afternoon to share successes and challenges of the previous week. Remote teachers at THMS have also created a formidable and enthusiastic professional team. Next week will be about remote teachers communicating with students and families, with remote instruction beginning on Monday, September 14.
An important reminder that while the choice to learn in-person or learn remotely was left to parental discretion, we now need students and families to stick with the plans that have been developed for the whole first trimester or semester.
Warm wishes for a wonderful Labor Day weekend and, as always, please feel free to be in touch with me and with principals and directors with questions and feedback about all things large and small.
With relief and profound thanksgiving for the RSU # 71 Community,