Our Students Need to Return to School in September

Here’s  an email from a mother of four children in our school district. She clearly articulates the struggles of so many families with school age children throughout this closure. The email is reprinted here with her permission.

One SGI mom wrote:

Good afternoon Mrs. Moritz,
I hope all is well with you and your family.
I am trying to review Power School to see where my children stand in terms of grading and it is extremely confusing to me. I have over 200 emails from the school, for the kids google classroom updates, since this pandemic began.
All four of our children have been trying to keep up with schoolwork, as best they can, given the current pandemic.
I am not sure how their Pass/Fail grades will be determined exactly, but I would ask that all of their teachers take the following into consideration:
01) We have one chrome book, which we borrowed mid-way through this pandemic from SGI, for all 4 kids.
02) All four of our children are using this same one chrome book, which I think has to be returned this week as I borrowed it from the high school, and the kids still have past-due work, which I assume needs to be completed, in order to pass given the Pass/Fail grading system?
03) Both my husband and myself have been considered “essential employees” since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
04) Being considered “essential”, both of us have been required to go into our places of employment during normal business hours (roughly 8am until 6pm) since March, when most people were able to at least work from home. Then, we need to work full days still and try to come home and “homeschool” four children, with one laptop and extremely sluggish internet. Hence, some assignments perhaps not uploading correctly and probably some missing.
While I am certainly not trying to make excuses for possible missing assignments, I do believe that most people are under the impression that parents have actually been home during this entire time and that simply is not the case with our family.
I actually do think most families have had at least one parent, if not both parents, at home with their children during this entire time, since March. Unfortunately (or fortunately since we both still have jobs) my husband and myself have been obligated to go into work everyday as usual since March, when the kids were initially released from school.
We are doing our best to ensure our four kids keep up on their school work, to the best of their abilities, and ours, given the tools and resources available.
I would greatly appreciate if the school district and teachers take this into consideration when grading our children in (10th grade), (7th grade), (6th grade) and (3rd grade), at the close of this school year.
Please advise if I need to forward this to any additional personnel at SGI High School, SGI Middle School or Colden Elementary School.
Thank you for your time and please stay safe!

This well spoken SGI mom and I have since connected and I hope she found my words to be reassuring. If our students, particularly at grades K-6, have been connecting with our teachers and attempting to continue their learning, they’ll pass. Much leniency is also in place for our grades 7-12 students while we attempt to keep adolescents moving forward in their learning and achieving course credit. We would have given her four chrome books if we knew she needed them. I cannot imagine the stress she has felt daily as she worried about her children at home, plus school work plus her own work responsibilities.

The current model of remote learning is not the way in which we need to reimagine our schools. Do we need to constantly evolve and rethink the way we do things in our schools? YES! And we need our students to return to us to do so.

Our students left us in mid-March with school being a safe, normal, and nurturing environment where the adults in the buildings care for each of them. If that isn’t a child’s experience because of bullying or a difficult teacher, then that’s a different problem we work on. Our vision at SGI is to be a place where everyone finds value and meaning every day.  Our mission is to be a learning community that cultivates meaningful relationships, commits to continuous growth and improvement, says “YES” to voice, choice and creativity and knows that learning is limitless.

We need our students to return to school in September to live that mission fully.

I know the decision to reopen our schools won’t be up to me–that the state of the Covid-19 crisis prior to September will determine Governor Cuomo’s decision on whether or not we’re reopening schools. We’re knee deep in graduation plans that meet ever evolving guidance and building level planning of some sort of end of the year recognition/connection with our students. We’re nose deep in preparing for reduced state and federal aid revenues–the amount of which is still unknown on this 10th day of June–and considering all of the possible ways to mitigate revenue cuts.

While we’re working on all of the logistics of what re-opening schools MIGHT look like, can we please still have hope for a relatively normal return to school?

Look, I believe that everyone in our organization and every family has done their very best during this time. We’ve all learned how to do things differently. But this has not been the same as having our students with us all day. There has most assuredly been a loss of learning for our students and I worry very much about our neediest children.

We’ll follow all well researched guidance that the CDC/DOH/NYSED give us to keep our students and employees safe.  We need to take smart precautions that keep our students and employees safe while trying to return our students to a school environment that feels safe, nurturing and normal.


One Comment
  1. Thanks for sharing this important parent perspective in your latest blog post. As I listen to some of the most effective and thoughtful superintendents (like you) around the country wrestle with these issues relating to the reopening of schools and the best ways to serve students, my admiration for the work you folks in school leadership are doing in this most unusual time is considerable. But the decisions just ahead are immense — life and death in some cases for the staff and students involved. I think your school community’s best interests are certainly in very competent hands. I wish you well.

    Jay P. Goldman
    Editor, School Administrator magazine
    AASA, The School Superintendents Association

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