In Case You Were Wondering, Start of the school year

Sep 4, 2020 | Messages from the Superintendent

In Case You Were Wondering, Start of the school year
Kevin Case, Superintendent of Schools

Question of the week . . . so, how was the start of the school year? I truly have struggled with providing everyone with the most appropriate response. For me, the response is “Different” and “we are off to a great start”. Please don’t stop reading here, because the word different is neither good nor bad, it is simply different. In this case, I’m using the word different to describe not normal, yet on the other hand, many things were normal. In no way would I associate it with the word bad. So for me different means:

• Positive, Professional Interactions: We have not interacted with students since March 13, in essence, an extended spring break from 5 days, to 10 days, then to 181 days. All of the staff, student, and parent interaction I observed this week has been great. I saw bus drivers giving kind, detailed instructions to students as they exited the bus. I observed friendly USD 253 staff greeting students as they entered the building and classrooms, and I was able to witness some great virtual interactions with both virtual staff and students

• Normal:- I observed many first day of school photo opportunities. This year those pictures were expanded to include about 25% of our student population who will be attending school remotely. Thank you to everyone who shared your first-day photos on social media!

• Stop Worrying About Masks: A worry that ended up not being a worry. There was a great deal of conversation about the ability of students to wear masks along with what will we do if students don’t wear their masks properly? From what I observed, the whole “mask issue” was a “non-issue”. Thank you to our staff, students, and parents for your support. By the way, I truly enjoyed seeing the wide variety of masks that students were wearing. The KC Chiefs masks seemed to be popular throughout all buildings along with widespread support for each Emporia School. I also appreciated the staff member who had a mustache mask on, indicating that he had shaved his mustache off and it made him feel more comfortable at least being able to wear a mustache. I was not disappointed by our fashion conscious staff and students who had a mask that matched or complemented their outfit. For me, “The Coffee” mask was what ended up in my car, no accessorizing on my part.

• Patience: No explanation needed! Blessed that all of our stakeholders are practicing patience.

• Not normal – staff members instructing from home due to quarantine, but able to be with their class even though they can’t be on-site and in-person.

• Normal – positive, we’ve got this attitude by all staff members. I spoke with one of our staff members who is teaching remote learners and she and her class were doing great things without any real challenges, all online. Thank you!

• Collaboration: I would say overall a new sense of a collaboration between staff, parents, and our community has been a byproduct of COVID-19. What an awesome byproduct, all of us working together toward a common goal.

• Normal – technology glitches with great people helping to solve those minor setbacks. In no way can I begin to explain the amount of extra work our technology department has done to make things run smoothly for day 1. On Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm, the entire district was without internet and we were having discussions about the need to possibly cancel day 1 of classes. Hard work and perseverance from our tech department led by Paul Beadles have turned challenge after challenge into possibilities.

• Flexibility: No explanation needed! Much appreciation to everyone for being flexible.

• First Day Always: Everyone was beyond happy to be back in school. Thank you to our preschool and kindergarten parents (and all parents) for your willingness to hand off your “little” to us outside of the school door. I know it is not what we normally do. I was able to observe those transitions from start to finish and they worked really well.

My point in all of this is, we had a great start to the school year. That great start did not happen without thought, hard work, planning, multiple modifications, and the #USD253Family, along with our parents and students, making numerous sacrifices. I am proud to be a member of the #USD253Family and the Emporia Community. We have much to be thankful for, much to be proud of, and much to look forward to. If we all embrace the #WeAreAllInThisTogether mantra, we will have a successful school year despite the setbacks and challenges we will ultimately face. I look forward to joining our staff, students, and community on the journey to experience the 2020-21 school year. Thank you to everyone for your part in making #BackToSchool2020 an #EmporiaProud moment.

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