Dear KSD Students, Families, Staff and Community,
Under normal conditions, a new school year presents opportunities for various beginnings—new classes, new students, new teachers and support staff, new friendships, and even new materials. And in more normal times, summer and “vacation” would serve as a great healer. As we approach the new school year, the COVID-19 related pressures that challenged us last spring now serve as an opportunity to change our practices, improve our leadership, and work towards far greater outcomes for our students, staff, and families.
Simply entering a new year, however, will not produce the transformation that our entire school district needs right now. In order to produce the desired teaching, learning, and development experiences, we must be willing to do what the late Representative John Lewis reminded us, “To find a way, to get in the way!” And whenever he uttered these words, he meant that we must keep working hard to find ways to increase access to necessary resources to improve conditions that support improved safety, health and wellbeing, and to stand against hatred, cruelty, racism, and injustice in all its forms. As Team KSD, we must be willing to analyze, plan for, and create the seemingly impossible. And, in fact, we have already made progress toward this end, by strategically planning to educate students, to professionally develop teachers and support staff, and serve families under existing conditions, in a way that has never been attempted before in public education.
What we have experienced these last six months has been unprecedented. Yet, we have also seen during this time that we are stronger together, and it is by working together that we will get through this. Our 2020-21 Reopening Plan and the supporting documents in the appendix are the result of months of collaborative work from dedicated staff and volunteers across our district.
I know there are some in our community who will disagree with our decision to begin the school year in remote learning. Please know that we are acting out of an abundance of caution to protect the health and safety of our students, families, staff, and community members. I also fully acknowledge this plan does not address every detail of every situation that may arise, and based on what we have experienced throughout this crisis, we know new guidance and revised guidelines are likely to come in the next few days and weeks that will change our plans. I am confident in and proud of the work we have done to ensure learning begins on the first day of school this year in Kent School District.
We need to continue to be adaptive as the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves. As we continue to receive new guidance from the Washington State Department of Health and OSPI, we will adapt our plans and inform you of the changes. We will be prepared to return to in-person instruction quickly when conditions allow us to do so.
It will take all of us, students, families, staff, and our community, working together to support a safe and successful 2020-21 school year. Thank you for your continued patience as we work to implement the details of our plan in alignment with all local and state requirements, and to provide your child with high quality, teacher-led remote learning. I look forward to the time when our students and staff can safely return to their schools. Our ability to reopen schools safely is directly related to what is happening in our community. Until then, thank you for social distancing, minimizing interactions with others outside your home, washing your hands frequently, and wearing a face covering.
In partnership and service,
Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Kent School District Superintendent