Back to school on the horizon for the San Juan School District
The spring of 2020 brought about unprecedented changes to our families, community, and our educational system. With back-to-school time on the horizon, the San Juan School District is anxious to re-open our school doors to serve our students and families.
Reopening of school is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic when many children and families are experiencing additional economic hardships, social isolation, and other stressors.
Schools are a critical component of our communities and have tremendous impact on the health, well-being, growth, and development of students and families.
Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. Along with reading, writing, and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise, receive healthy meals, gain access to the internet and other vital services, receive mental and physical health support, and enjoy community and family engagement opportunities.
The San Juan School District re-opening plans have been designed around stakeholder feedback, flexibility for families, current research surrounding COVID-19, and the value of education.
Whether students will choose to learn in the classroom, from home-based blended models, or independently online, our staff are prepared and eager to support learning experiences that will promote student growth and excellence.
Going back to school this fall will require schools and families to work together even more than before. Teachers and staff will teach and encourage preventive behaviors at school.
Likewise, it will be important for families to emphasize and model healthy behaviors at home and to talk to their children about changes to expect this school year.
Parents will need to work closely with their student and teachers to become supportive learning coaches.
Even if students will attend school in person, it is important to prepare for the possibility of virtual learning if school closes or if a student becomes exposed to COVID-19 and needs to stay home.
The District and schools have made changes to policies, practices, and operations with several goals in mind: supporting learning; providing important services such as school meals, social, emotional, and physical supports; extracurricular activities; and limiting the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In an effort to stay safe, there are a number of steps our schools have taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
School leaders have developed guidance around protocols, practices, and strategies that will be implemented to optimize education and promote health and safety while mitigating risk throughout the school year.
Some of these practices include:
• Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces
• Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer
• Student seating spaced for social distancing
• Minimizing shared materials (manipulatives, pencils, etc.)
• Use of outdoor spaces when possible
• Monitoring of proper ventilation
• Limiting student movement
• Seating charts in all locations, including busses, for contact tracing
• Social distancing in hallways, classrooms, cafeterias, and on school grounds
• Minimizing outside visitors and volunteers within the school
• Face coverings for all adults and staff while inside the school
• Flexibility to go virtual with SJSD online Canvas courses if the virus surges
As we look forward to the 2020-21 school year, we recognize that returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel like normal – at least for a while.
But having safety plans and flexible educational learning platforms can help protect and support the needs of students, teachers, staff, and families.
It is important that everyone in the school and community take steps to reduce transmission, particularly to those at high risk, while balancing the need to maintain a strong education system that effectively supports all stakeholders.
It is our hope that together, we can unite, educate, and empower San Juan School District students, staff, and families this year.