SOMSD Staff Newsletter
News & Updates
Message from Superintendent Taylor
Hello SOMSD Family,
This communique is intended for you, our educators, and our committed support staff members. We recently released a 90-minute virtual Town Hall to update our stakeholders (https://bit.ly/34nj8Ae) and reiterate our intent to return to our school buildings in January as safely as possible. During this unimaginable 10 month odyssey, I hope that as leaders we have demonstrated that we are committed to 'doing the right thing' and 'doing all we can', even if it may not be popular with everyone.
In March 2020 it would have been hard to imagine that we would still not be in our schools as 2021 approaches. To your credit, we have pivoted and done the improbable, created a virtual school district. So many in our District have contributed to this successful shift. For this, we thank each of you; our children and families have benefited immensely from your work. While nothing can replace our 'normal' in-person instructional days of school, your service has been beyond just commendable, as many parents have expressed to me, it has been remarkable!
We have also heard from parents whose children are not faring well. They describe their children as feeling disconnected, depressed, and alone. I hope you were able to notice this when viewing our virtual convocation (https://youtu.be/zFaJmiCgHFI) that was released in September. The purpose was to allow our students at all levels to express in their own words, what the spring shift meant for them. This was done not to place blame or guilt, but to motivate us all and remind us of how 'essential' our work is. Four months later, our children have a much more authentic connection to you and our schools and our Principals are connecting with their school communities via newsletters and videos. While things are much better, it is now time for another shift.
As we prepare for the hopeful return to a hybrid-setting on January 19, 2021, I know that you have many questions and possibly anxiety about how this will work. We meet monthly with SOMEA and other District Leaders to discuss these concerns. We will work together to address these concerns and when appropriate include our partners at the local Health Departments (South Orange and Maplewood). Your local Pandemic Response Teams led by your Principals will also be addressing and working through many school-specific granular concerns and bringing the conversation to our District Pandemic Response Team.
By leveraging the expertise and ingenuity of our collective professionals I am confident that we will successfully transition to hybrid as we did in September to our current methodology. It won't be easy or perfect, but I have no doubts that we will make it work for our students.
To that end, in the New Year, we will be providing you with an Educator FAQ that will respond to questions received from teachers. Among other pertinent information, the FAQs will include pragmatic questions around the process of managing hybrid instruction etc. We have also asked SOMEA to continue to collect questions that we can use to update this for everyone's edification. In addition, our partnership with the YMCA is continuing, if you will need childcare services for January 2021, please see the information below.
I wish you, your families, and your loved ones a healthy and safe holiday season. Once again, thank you for all you do, enjoy your well deserved Winter Break.
Dr. Ronald G. Taylor
The South Mountain YMCA is providing care for children of the SOMA district and children of district employees. Our current programs are designed for K-5th graders and any Pre-K student Currently enrolled.