Superintendent's Corner - June 2020

June 12, 2020

The past school year has been filled with great challenges and successes for our school district, capped by the dramatic disruption we have faced from the pandemic and mandatory school closure. With each challenge, we quickly adjusted, adapted, and innovated. I am extremely proud of the way this school community supported and encouraged our students and staff through such a difficult time. We have continued to demonstrate that we are indeed a Community Where Character Counts.

While summer has just begun, the start of school in the fall is on the minds of many in our community. We have much work to do to prepare for a safe return to school, and this is where our energy is focused. While the health and safety of our students and staff is paramount, our goal is to get our students and staff back into our schools with as close of a return to normalcy as possible. We also understand we’ll need to meet students where they are – assess what they’ve missed, and pick back up with positivity, care, and optimism. We can’t wait to see our students again on the first day of what we hope will be a very positive school year for all.


Preparing for the return to school

On September 1st, SASD schools will be open and prepared to welcome the return of all students, barring any unforeseen closures or restrictions on in-school instruction. A comprehensive Health and Safety Plan is under development which will drive our actions and responses to ongoing issues related to the pandemic.

I know that parents are eager to learn what returning to school will look like and what modifications to daily routines can be expected.  By utilizing guidance from multiple sources and choosing what’s best for our school community, we will be opening school with the fewest restrictions on students as possible. SASD’s current plan for school re-opening does not include a requirement for students to wear masks.  We will make classroom and building configuration changes where applicable to promote social distancing and safety without compromising the learning environment or incurring unnecessary spending. We have proactively invested in highly effective and safe cleaning and sanitizing equipment that enables us to thoroughly clean individual classrooms or entire schools rapidly if the need arises. We are also working with our transportation provider to minimize disruptions to our normal busing procedures.

The first activities to resume this summer will be our athletics programs. We are developing a plan for the safe resumption of practices and pre-season workouts in July for our student-athletes who participate in interscholastic athletics.

Of course, we will continue to monitor guidance and emerging evidence of the transmission of COVID-19 and adapt our plans should the regulations for in-school learning change or the risk of harm to students increase.

Virtual learning

SASD also continues to prepare for all scenarios to ensure continuity of education in the most robust way possible. If, and only if, conditions and regulations require, an alternative schedule will be implemented which will limit the number of students in a school building on any one day. Our instructional programs will include the flexibility needed to support students virtually on any day they are not in school, whether because of an alternative schedule or quarantined at home. We are hopeful that this need will not materialize, but we must plan for all scenarios and we will be ready.

An Online Academy, taught by SASD teachers, will also be available for students who elect not to return to school due to health concerns. Such students could choose to enroll in the Academy for either a semester or the full year, and would then be seamlessly reintegrated back into school. Further details on the Online Academy will be communicated to parents in mid-July. 

In closing, I again want to thank our students, parents, and staff for their patience, flexibility, and resilience. We are stronger and more resourceful in so many ways because of what we’ve experienced. We will continue to move forward and to communicate with you via e-mail and our Web site.

Enjoy the beginning of summer, and please don’t forget to keep your children reading.

Sincerely,

Frank Gallagher

Frank T. Gallagher, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools