As I write this we are rapidly approaching the end of September. The trees are changing and fall is in the air. If you feel anything like I do, it feels like anything but a “normal” fall, but slowly students are entering classrooms and the 2020 - 2021 school year is off and running.
Highland feels like two separate schools right now. We have our Hybrid schedule with A group on Monday and Thursday, and our B group on Tuesday and Friday. Then we have our fully Comprehensive Distance Learning program with all of our 4th and 5th grade students at home. It has been so rewarding to have our hybrid students in the building, and the participation of our CDL students has been amazing. Thank you again for your support in educating your child during these times.
You have been the recipient of many emails about our new after school pick up system called PikMyKid. With any new system there are always bumps, but overall it is serving us well and helping to keep safe distances for our students and families during afternoon pickup.
This week your student came home with a plastic badge with their name and a bar code. The purpose of this badge is to help streamline our check in process in the morning. After having their temperature checked, we need to make a log entry to record that each student did not have a fever. The badge allows us to scan and go as compared to having to look up each student by their last name. I am very sensitive and committed to making sure we don’t turn each child into a number to be processed every morning. We have found a happy side effect of the check in process. Right now no student gets to “sneak” into school in the morning. Every student is guaranteed to get at least two positive adult interactions before they have even set foot in the hall. We know that the first interaction and positive relationships are crucial to a child feeling safe and welcome at school and setting their day off on the right foot.
I wanted to share a bit about our recess process. We currently have the playground split into 3 zones of play areas. At any given time we have one grade on the playground and each class cohorted into one zone for that day. Classes will take turns rotating through zones during the week so that they all get a chance to play in all areas of the playground. Each classroom also has their own set of playground equipment that stays only within their own cohort. Students are allowed to take “mask breaks” when they go outside to play, and our assistants are working to kindly remind our students about keeping appropriate spacing while playing. We are getting outside whenever the air quality and weather conditions permit. We have a real time AQI station on top of our building which determines our ability to go out. Anything over 100 on our AQI means we must stay inside. If you click the “Air Quality Index” tab on the district website-it will give you the real time readings at each school in the district. The station at North Middle School will be back up after their roof work is completed.
In the big picture of the school year, I remain hopeful that our Covid numbers will remain holding where they are or continue to improve, which in turn might allow us to consider bringing 4th and 5th grade students back to school in a hybrid model as well. The district office has said that November would offer the first possible window of opportunity to make that change.
I know I have said this before but we have never needed to work together more than during a time where distancing and isolation can be necessary. Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Together we will shine,
Mr. Van Manen