Letter Regarding School Re-Opening

At last Thursday’s GH community meeting, kinder and grade one families spoke about SPS’s plan to re-open school buildings for Pre-K, K, 1st grade, and some Special Ed students. Our Legislative Chair, Victoria Bhegani, wrote the following letter to Superintendent Juneau and Director Harris about key concerns raised at that meeting. 

Dear Superintendent Juneau,

Thank you for the work you have done in our District during this tumultuous time. I am sure neither you nor the School Board took the decision to re-open school buildings to some SPS students on March 1 lightly. I imagine you are hearing feedback about this decision from families in our District. This is such a letter. 

I am writing as the Genesee Hill Elementary PTA’s Legislative Chair on the behalf of our school’s kinder and grade 1 families. Last night our administration and PTA organized a community meeting where these families came together to share thoughts on the subject of school building re-openings. In my role I took notes and am sharing the most commonly expressed concerns with you in the hope that this can inform your decision making in the coming weeks. 

Our parents listed three main concerns in school building re-openings. The first is that students’ classes will be broken up and some teacher assignments will change. A number of parents said they would like to make their choice on whether or not to return their children to school buildings based on whether or not their child can stay with the same teacher. However, because this information is not available to them, they are finding that making this choice by Sunday is challenging. Second, they are worried about safety, safety protocols and the expected disruption that COVID-19 cases will bring. Third, they are worried about the binding nature of Sunday’s survey, whereby they will be locked in to the decision that they make as opposed to having the flexibility to change it in a month’s time. If COVID-19 cases in our region rise, for example, parents who have committed to sending their children back to school for in-person learning will not be able to switch to remote under the current guidelines. 

I hope this letter has given you some insight into our school community’s perspectives. I’ve also included a word cloud made up of the questions of more than seventy families that participated in our discussion. I would like to add that despite the many grey areas right now, the community meeting we had was a positive one. Our principal Gerrit Kischner and vice-principal Elizabeth Dunn have shown excellent leadership at our school during the pandemic, as have our co-PTA presidents. This was very much in evidence last night. Our best thoughts are with you in the months of planning that lie ahead.

Sincerely,

Victoria Bhegani

Legislative Chair, Genesee Hill Elementary PTA 

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