The holiday season is upon us and we will soon celebrate the end of a year that seems like a lifetime. As promised last month, we agreed to have a decision about January’s return by December 11, 2020. Our leadership teams have continued to consult with experts and reflect on the current state of learning at our schools. After much deliberation, we agree on two realities:
First, if each of us enacts safety measures with fidelity, schools will be safe for students and staff. With over 94% of districts in Tennessee offering In-Person Learning options, health department records indicate that there is little virus transmission inside schools. At GDPST, safety precautions have been carefully planned: school supervision plans have been reviewed and rehearsed; rooms are configured to ensure proper distancing; protective equipment is on site and ready for distribution; and, teams are receiving training and practice needed to execute daily expectations.
Second, this is an equity issue for our students. We have always contended that students learn best in-person. Now that science deems it safe enough to provide that option, we must act to ensure our students get the best learning environment possible.
We also recognize that, as a country, we are struggling to follow guidelines proven to reduce the spread of the virus. Our hope is that each of you will enjoy family but do so as safely as possible, using social distance and masks. To address the COVID spike that may result from the upcoming holidays, we have decided to postpone the student return to school until Tuesday, January 19, 2021. This decision is not contingent upon Shelby County School’s plan for return and should only change if the Shelby County Health Department deems it necessary to return to a county-wide lockdown.
This adjustment will allow us 10 additional days on site to prepare for the return of students. Additionally, we will condense the student phased return as follows:
January 19, 2021: 6th, 9th and 11th grade students return to school
January 25, 2021: 7th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students return to school
The Family Return Survey has closed. Below you will see a snapshot of the number of students who plan to return to In-Person Learning on January 19, 2021.
This past year has challenged us in ways nobody could have predicted. Collectively, schools and parents have stepped up and out of our comfort zones to do right by our students. The shift to In-Person and Distance Learning will continue to be a challenge but we're confident that we can make a successful transition if we hold ourselves and each other accountable for maintaining a safe learning environment.
Please feel free to reach out to your school administrators if you have any questions.