A Weekly eNewsletter from Hastings Public Schools
Message from the Superintendent
Good Evening Raider Families,
It has been busy since the Governor's recent announcement about moving secondary students to in-person learning. While we are all eager for another signal of normalcy, including having each of our students back in classrooms, it is important to dig deeper into school districts' expectations to bring secondary students back into full-time face-to-face learning. The Governor expects that school districts will have students in some form of in-person learning by March 8, 2021. In Hastings, we had already begun the process with elementary returning to full-time in-person learning in January. And, as of Monday, February 22, 2021, we had all of our students in some form of in-person learning.
However, the focus for most of us has gone directly to deciding when we can get secondary students back to full-time, in-person learning. As I pointed out in last Sunday's Raider Update, the soonest that could happen for us would be March 15, 2021. After much consideration and conversation with our district team and conversations with our incident command team, building staff, and local health officials, I have decided to push back the return of our secondary students to full-time in-person learning until April 6, 2021. There are several reasons for this decision:
- Based on the guidance, all of our planning has been for either hybrid learning (a structure where the expectation is to maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing) or in-person learning (structure with no need for any social distancing). The new requirement of consistent 3 feet of social distancing in classrooms and hallways at regular capacity creates additional challenges. Because of this new challenge, we need time to move furniture out of classrooms and adjust learning spaces to create enough space to keep students at 3 feet of distance.
- March 26 is the last day of the third quarter, which is followed by spring break. This is a natural transition time for secondary students and staff.
- A move after spring break provides additional days for staff to make any space adjustments to buildings (necessary due to the new 3 feet expectations).
- The adjusted timeline of vaccines for staff puts the second round during the week of March 22. We have managed internal sub coverage for teachers to get their vaccines while in hybrid; however, being full-time in-person would make it unlikely we would be able to provide coverage for teacher absences during the second round (March 22-26).
- Based on the vaccination schedule, we are confident that most, if not all, of our teaching staff who want to be vaccinated, will have received their second dose of the vaccine by April.
- Health experts are advising to remain cautious due to restrictions that have been relaxed in communities.
More detailed information will be coming out from each of the secondary buildings in the coming days. The shift to full-time in-person learning will not change the school day or transportation schedule, and start/end times will remain the same; we need to remain able to move back to hybrid or distance learning at any point. The full-time in-person secondary learning model will mirror the elementary learning model in having students in school five days per week with the elimination of flex days. We will plan to utilize March 25th and 26th as the required non-student contact transition days (secondary only).
I know this information and decision is good news for some, while at the same time frustrating for others. I ask that we continue to appreciate the complexity of the situation. Finally, thank you to everyone for continued support and patience as we continue to work through the constant change COVID presents on a daily basis.
Robert McDowell, Ed.D.