I would like to begin by recognizing the community’s efforts in ensuring the well-being of residents in the face of the health crisis we are currently facing. The community spread of COVID-19 in Suffield has been minimized due to the actions we have taken together, and I am grateful for the patience and support of our parents, staff, and students doing our part in placing safety and well-being at the forefront of the difficult decisions we have had to make. Our educational community continues to listen, adjust, and improve in our efforts to educate our students during this unprecedented time, and I am inspired by all that has been accomplished due to the collaborative efforts of everyone.
In terms of our district operations, the Suffield Public Schools continues to provide its educational programming through a continuity of learning structure known as distance learning. Our distance learning is being provided at all grade levels through virtual experiences that include a hybrid of self-directed and interactive direct instruction through the online platforms such as Seesaw and Google Apps for Education. Due to our need to quickly pivot from classroom-based instruction to virtual learning, the district has taken a phased approach that has scaffolded expectations over the past several months. We began with at-home packets, transitioned into online lesson activities, and then implemented interactive teaching and learning opportunities for students. Technology support, student engagement and grading, social and emotional programming, and accommodating special populations and diverse needs of our students across the PreK-12 paradigm have been some of the key facets to our distance learning challenges and opportunities. To improve upon our ability to meet the needs of our students and families, we continue to monitor progress and adjust as necessary. Student and parent surveys, as well as, districtwide audio and video conference calls to have also enabled us to solicit feedback from teachers and parents. With this being said, we recognize that our distance learning efforts continue to be a work in progress. We will continue to seek new strategies or implement exemplars of practice so that all students are given the opportunity to succeed. However, we look forward to the date we can reopen our schools and teach students within our school environments.
As we look to the future and the potential for reopening our schools this fall, the district has been developing a Strategic Reopening and Sustainment Plan to serve as a roadmap for moving forward. We have identified eight Core Functions that will guide our planning efforts over the next several months in the event that we are given the ability to reopen our schools. The Core Functions are as follows:
- Core Function 1 Health Services
- Core Function 2 Finance and Facilities
- Core Function 3 Technology
- Core Function 4 Human Resources
- Core Function 5 School Operations
- Core Function 6 Curriculum & Instruction
- Core Function 7 Special Services
- Core Function 8 Communication
Within each Core Function, several metrics have been established to provide details of the outcomes we plan to achieve prior to the first day of school and once our schools have reopened.
Beginning in June, the Board of Education’s subcommittee on Community Engagement and Public Relations will further their focus on communication through the vehicle of a quarterly newsletter. This digital publication will be sent to families through electronic means and will be accessible on our district website. The Board is looking forward to beginning this new endeavor, everyone is hopeful that our district’s families will find it informative.
On a final note, and on behalf of the Board of Education the faculty and staff of the Suffield Public Schools, I would like to close this article by extending our sincerest congratulations to our graduating senior class. Since joining our learning community, their presence has been an inspiration to us all. They have succeeded in all facets of their academic careers, and their many talents, humility, and accomplishments will be remembered in the years to come. Although good-byes are so difficult, especially without the closure we would have hoped for this special group, we share in their hope and excitement for what will become yet another memorable chapter in each of their lives. Congratulations to Suffield High School Class of 2020!