Dear Forest Hills Families,
I share the following sensitive information in hopes that parents and loved ones of our students will be able to process and share this information with your children in a manner that you see fit.
I am hearing from multiple sources that the governor will issue an Executive Order (likely on Wednesday) that will prohibit schools from reopening for regular classes through the end of the academic year. This is heartbreaking news. So much of what happens in schools at this time of year is celebrating milestones reached, “first-ever” accomplishments, or quiet goals attained and acknowledged with a high five, a hug, or thunderous applause. Academic achievements, musical performances, culminating events, and so many other things are all casualties in this greater effort to keep people healthy and save lives. This is tough.
As a school system, we are deep into an updated plan to support new learning wherever students may be for the remaining weeks of the school year. Prior to finalizing this plan, we are waiting to see the detailed parameters and guidance that we have been told will be in the governor’s Executive Order. Our teachers and principals are working hard on this plan and we will share more details later this week. Our plan is to begin executing this plan on or about April 14. Our intent is to connect with students, inspire growth, learn new things, and harness the teachable moments presented by this challenge. I am grateful to so many of our talented teachers and principals who have been working tirelessly on this plan. Connecting with 10,000 students and supporting new learning in thousands of homes (and homes that are all dealing with different realities, challenges, and varying levels of resources and support) all while working under a “stay at home” order – and doing so in a few short weeks – is new for everyone. We will all need to muster up an extra dose of grace, patience, and an iterative spirit knowing we will grow and improve with each day in this new environment.
We have made no decisions with respect to the litany of school-related events that are not officially the “school day” but coincide with the end of the school year. Commencement, culminating activities, and year-end celebrations are all things that likely will not be addressed in the Executive Order. These are decisions that do not need to be made now and we hope that our collective efforts and sacrifices to slow the spread of this virus will pay dividends in the weeks to come. I’d rather postpone some of these events, if necessary, as opposed to canceling them now.
I know this news will be greeted with tears and questions from my own two elementary-aged daughters. I wish there was something that I could do or say to change this reality. Instead, we will all continue to work together to keep everyone safe, healthy, and support our neighbors, community, and nation. In the meantime, I send big hugs to you and your children.
With respect and appreciation,