Back to School Letter to Families

August 11, 2020

Centennial School Families,

Tomorrow we open our doors for students to return for the 2020-2021 school year. I do not believe that any of us would have thought that this school year would be starting out in a fully remote setting, but yet it is. The district has deliberated and discussed consistently on how best to provide the education your students deserve, keeping in mind that the safety and well being of not only the students but their immediate and extended families has to be taken into consideration. Although we all know that in person instruction is the best method for delivering
lessons and teaching in general, our district could not in good faith put aside the safety and well being of the students to do what we know works best. Ms. Kimba Rael and the staff have spent numerous hours discussing how to reopen for this coming school year and keep the students safe and healthy. What has been developed is what we all believe is the best plan for the time being and that we will continue to monitor the current pandemic situation. When the time comes we feel confident we can bring students back into the building in larger groups we will do so knowing our ultimate goal is to have this school year be as close to what we would consider normal as possible.

The district also wishes to thank you, the families of our students and we do so because without your input and guidance as well as patience and flexibility we would not have been able to plan for the school year accordingly. The community forums that were held to discuss transportation, opening plans, cleaning protocols, PPE considerations all contributed to the district being able to develop and implement our opening plan for the fall semester. To witness a working relationship such as was displayed during the time of planning exemplified how working collaboratively produces positive results. The district is fortunate to have school families that are willing
to work with us in providing a safe and healthy learning environment.

The pandemic has changed our ways of operating and although there is not a definitive end date for Covid-19 to go away there still will be opportunities for the community to participate in community forums. We have implemented several new systems and platforms for keeping the school community informed and up to date with announcements regarding activities, school events, meetings and such. In person conversation is still the best way for communicating and steps are going to be taken to ensure that approach is taken including setting up monthly
community forums for questions and answers regarding the school district. As the superintendent I will be scheduling on the fourth Wednesday of every month such community forums and my intent is to do so around the community at different sites with the announcement of each location listed a week in advance. Along with this I will be creating a monthly communication that will be posted to our website.

We are in a time where being flexible and patient plays an important role in the daily activities of the school. Every Wednesday the Valley superintendents meet virtually and quite often it is stated just wait, a decision made at 2:00 pm will be changed at 4:00 pm. Ever since we have entered the pandemic state that statement has not been entirely false. As the district has planned for and worked through how best to reopen, decisions have been made at one point in the day and not long after, that decision has been reversed due to new information, guidance, directives from any number of outside agencies. Remaining flexible and understanding has played an important
role in ensuring the primary focus of our efforts stays true. That focus is keeping the students and school community safe and healthy and providing the education each student deserves.

I have sat in on the professional development days that staff have participated in these last three days and I can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices, they are ready and anxious to have students back in the building. Although having them back will look different for a period of time it has been consistently expressed by numerous staff that they miss the students and the activity that comes with having them in the building. The pandemic will eventually pass or we all will be facing a new normal for our daily activities. Regardless of what that outcome is, the Centennial School District is fortunate to have the caliber of teachers here instructing the students. The Centennial staff as a whole are one of the best groups of individuals in the valley and I am
confident no matter what comes their way in the coming months each one of them will continue to provide the students that education they deserve and a safe environment to do it in.

Thank you to the parents and guardians of our students, thank you to the school community, and thank you to the community of San Luis for your patience and understanding of what has been asked of the Centennial School District staff in preparing for this school year. We are RAM PROUD!!!

Toby Melster
Centennial School District R-1, Superintendent