Easley School Opening Update

July 1, 2020

A Note from the principal

Good evening Easley families,

I hope this message finds you all doing well and enjoying the summer break. I'm reaching out to provide some clarity around the recent messages regarding the opening of school. I realize this is a VERY long message but we've received a lot of questions and I want to provide you with all the information I have at the moment so you can make informed decisions for your family. As always should you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Last Thursday, Dr. Mubenga brought to the Durham Public Schools Board of Education his plan for reopening schools under the state’s “Plan B” requirement. Just to recap, the Governor has asked all school districts and charters to come up with three plans for the 2020-21 school year, depending on the severity of COVID-19 (please see graphic at the bottom of the page):

  • Plan A: Minimal social distancing

  • Plan B: Increased social distancing with schools at no more than 50 percent and buses at no more than 33 percent capacity

  • Plan C: Remote instruction only

The Governor will choose one plan as the baseline for North Carolina; school districts may adopt that plan or one more restrictive. We were expecting the Governor to make that announcement today but that announcement has been postponed.

The idea behind Plan B is to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 through reducing student density on our campuses. Some of the state’s suggestions included split schedules during the day, weeks on and weeks off, A-days and B-days, and more. No matter how you slice it, Plan B is a complicated instructional and logistical challenge. After considering feedback from the District Re-Opening Task Force of administrators, educators, and health professionals, Dr. Mubenga chose the following Plan B and brought it to the school board, which approved it 6-0:

  • In-person instruction for pre-K through eighth-grade students

  • Online instruction for high school students in order to use high school facilities to reduce density for elementary and middle students*

  • In person accommodations for exceptions such as exceptional children and English learners

  • The creation of Ignite Online Academy for students and staff unable to participate in in-person instruction due to health concerns

*We believe we have the capacity to keep all our students in the building and still following the Plan B guidelines, hopefully avoiding the need to house any students at the middle school.

What plan we end up implementing depends on the Governor's decision about how schools will open. If DPS goes back to school in-person (Plan A or Plan B) and you are not comfortable with these options, families will be given the opportunity to participate in IGNITE! Online Academy. IGNITE is a 100% online learning program provided by DPS. This will look different than the online learning done in the spring by Easley teachers. If DPS goes with Plan C, then Easley teachers will be providing the online instruction as we did in the spring. It is important to note that families who choose to enroll their child in the IGNITE! Online Academy will not lose their lottery seat. However, once a student is enrolled in the virtual program, they will not be able to return to the school building until the beginning of second semester to avoid a great deal of student movement. The July 10th registration deadline will be extended and is not a firm deadline.

We need your help! If you have not already completed the Next School Year Intent Form, please take a few moments to indicate your intentions. This information is critical for our planning. Thank you to the families who have already completed it; I so appreciate your support!

The reality is there are no perfect answers to “Plan B.” Truly, we need our entire community, state, and nation to get serious about fighting COVID-19 through physical distancing, consistently wearing face coverings, and hand-washing/sanitization, to get in-person instruction back to where it needs to be to fully support our students and staff. We will continue to plan as best we can with student and staff safety at the forefront of our minds. I will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Kindergarten and New Student Registration

As for school registration, we anticipate the online platform for kindergarten (and other new students) opening on July 15th. Please be on the lookout for this information.

Welcome, Mr. Bugajski!

On a different note, I am excited to welcome, Mr. Jeffrey Bugajski as our new Assistant Principal! Mr. Bugajski started today and has hit the ground running as we are in the midst of planning for a safe and effective school opening. He is coming to us from Wake County and we are excited to have him join the Easley family! Our interview committee sought feedback from the staff regarding characteristics they would like in an Assistant Principal, and Mr. Bugajski checks all the boxes! I wish to thank Dr. Mitchell for her work at Easley during the past school year and wish her all the best in her new position. Please see below for an introductory letter from Mr. Bugajski.

A word from Assistant Principal Bugajski

Dear Easley Families and Friends,

It is with great pleasure and gratitude that I am officially introducing myself as your new Assistant Principal. I could not be more thrilled to become an Easley Eagle and partner with Mrs. Hauser and the whole Easley community!

This will be my tenth year in education and most of my experience has been in upper elementary, with a couple years in middle school. I started in 4th grade in a small town near the Outer Banks. I quickly moved to the big city of Raleigh and started teaching 6th grade at Carnage Magnet Middle School. The complexities of the year round calendar was intriguing so I transitioned to Brier Creek Elementary, where I held several roles over the 5 years I was there: 5th grade teacher, Technology Facilitator/Teacher, AIG, IRT, and Literacy Coach. It was an exceptional opportunity for me to explore various areas of education and serve in assorted leadership opportunities.

In 2018 I was accepted into the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program. I am thankful for the outstanding training I’ve experienced over the last two years. The coursework at North Carolina Central University, monthly leadership workshops with Principal Fellows, and my yearlong internship at Parkside Elementary (a brand new multi-track school in WCPSS) have all been an integral part of my learning and growing as a leader. Most importantly, they placed me on a trajectory to become an Eagle.

I am originally from Michigan, about an hour north of Detroit. While I do miss Michigan and my family, those winters are too long! I earned my Bachelor's from Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, MI. Upon graduation I moved to North Carolina and accepted a teaching position. In 2012 I graduated from East Carolina University with a Master’s in Instructional Technology and now have finished my Master’s of School Administration from North Carolina Central University. I enjoy camping, my dogs, woodworking, cooking, and gardening.

I am delighted to join you all and partner together to make this the best year at Easley possible. I am passionate about racial equity, relationships, high quality instruction, and being innovative! I look forward to meeting you all and begin our journey together.

All my best,

Jeff Bugajski

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