As we hold our first online Board meeting, I am highlighting three topics: our Distance Learning Plan, Reporting, and the larger situation.
What our staff did was unthinkable. The same could be said of the entire education system here in New Jersey. The complexity of the entire endeavor to move to distance learning really can’t be easily explained. Yet here we are in week two.
We have received immense feedback, all of it positive, even when making suggestions or highlighting areas of need. Positivity has pervaded what we have heard, but I want to be clear, this has been far from perfect and we are far from perfecting distance learning. It is simply not possible to create a one-size-fits-all system. That said, what we have learned is that when we communicate with each other, when we are patient and forgiving, we can find our way together.
Thanks are in great demand: from the Board and their support of administration, central office administration and support staff, our building and district administration, to our entire faculty and staff, everyone has stepped up. Our association leadership has been incredibly supportive and collaborative and without them our communication would have been far less effective.
Students at all levels have stepped up; they’ve been fantastic, finding independence and creativity we had only started to tap. Thank you students of B-R. Of course, an immense burden has been placed on the families of our students. The current reality has upended and overturned any sense of normalcy and it has placed a tremendous burden on individual homes. We know this, we thank you for all you are doing, and we will keep working to make this situation clearer and easier for you. There are many questions we, like every district, still have to answer. We are working daily to not just find answers, but to find the right answers.
With all of this said I want to return to the start: positivity. This challenge was thrust upon us with little time to prepare and we have kept learning moving forward. We have supported students and families in so many different ways, and we have found new ways to be a community. Communications will continue each day, containing important information on our platform and process. Please remember to use our Distance Learning Page as your central resource. It contains everything and can be found on the navigation banner on every page of our brrsd.org site. It also includes a link to our Twitter feeds which, yesterday and today, have demonstrated our spirit. I hope we continue to show that this situation will not stop our learning, and it will not break our spirit. Thanks to all who have posted. Keep it up. It is more valuable than you think.
Given the situation, and with social media, there is growing demand for information. The district works under legal constraints and communicates directly with our county offices of health and education, daily with the latter. They have provided incredible support throughout this process. That said, we report information to them.
The school district will not release personal medical information of any student or staff member. I know that individuals are choosing to communicate their personal situations online. We respect their decisions and will do everything we can to help, but even with their permission, we cannot disseminate to the public anyone’s personal information.
Based on all recommendations from health officials and educators and our local political leaders, we are essentially locked down and have to live under the assumption that we may have been exposed to this virus. We have to stay at home whenever possible, maintain social distance when out, and closely monitor ourselves and our family members. At this point, general knowledge, which is all the school district could share, should not change our current behavior.
So to this end, we will continue to communicate with the offices who verify and can appropriately use and communicate information, and we will continue to support everyone in the B-R community.
The Larger Situation
I want to conclude with a request of the entire community.
The way this situation has evolved, it is as serious a situation as we have faced in recent memory. We have the opportunity to save lives and to move past this sooner rather than later if we are all willing to do our part. We have heard the governor that this is no time for panic. It is a time to participate.
We all have to do this:
- Stay home as much as possible.
- When you are out, practice social distancing.
- Continue to monitor the information from our health experts, links to which can be found on our Distance Learning Page.
- Pay careful attention to yourselves and your family members.
Our district mission speaks to everyday action. More than ever, now is the time for that action. Our values state that we strive to be citizens who model excellence and courage and who hold themselves personally accountable for their words and actions. This is a time when we must live up to these words. We must take this seriously and we must work together.
Please continue to check our daily communications and please be safe.