Moving Through Challenges, Together

These are indeed challenging times! Over the past month while getting to know the community and diving into the work of leading Montrose County School District, I have had the opportunity to meet with over 100 teachers, engage in critical conversations with the medical and mental health community, read over 800 survey comments from interested teachers, parents and community members, and conduct three separate focus groups for 120 teachers, parents and community members who were randomly selected to participate in person.

Montrose has always included a variety of unique and interesting people. Each with special contributions to the community. This is one of the things I love so much about it. Everyone feels free to be themselves and knows they will be accepted for who they are. What great models for our children! As of late, that acceptance is beginning to unravel just a bit. It is clear that the stress of the Coronavirus is taking its toll. People are scared. People are exhausted. People are anxious. People are stressed. People have vastly different perspectives about the Coronavirus Pandemic.

In gathering input for the MCSD Return to Learn plan, we received many many comments. Two comments really stood out to me as they really represent each end of the spectrum of perspectives. I would like to share them with you below:

“We feel like schools should go back to normal. We will not be sending our kids to public school, not even the remote online learning through the district unless it is completely normal, with no social distancing, no masks, with regular lunch and with regular recesses. We have our youngest starting kindergarten this year and he has been really excited and all he talks about when he turns 5 is he gets to go to school like his sister and brother, but if this year is not going to be a normal one,  it won’t be the same. How is it going to work keeping 5 year olds 6ft apart? That just teaches them to be afraid of other kids and people. 

The world is a chaotic place and these kids need a normal structure and if the school can’t give it to our kids we cannot go back.”

-anonymous

And the other:

“I am growing more and more concerned about the safety of children, teachers, and families in our community if schools return to live instruction. I’d like to see teachers focus their energies on creating digital and other at home content, possibly with weekly meetings with small cohorts of ten preferably outside. The science is clear to those who read it; the number of children and younger adults with infections is increasing, and spread is far worse in enclosed spaces for extended periods of time (like in a classroom). Our community is not taking this pandemic seriously enough, and as a result, schools are compromised. It is unfortunate indeed.”

-anonymous

Here’s the thing, I very much respect each of these positions. We are in a time where there is so much media and so many agendas that it is really difficult to sift through it all to determine exactly what we should believe or think about our current situation. I tend to be relying more and more on my values to guide me during this difficult time. As Etienne de Grellet stated, “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now.” I believe our focus right now should be on trying to understand each other, support each other and build each other up.

The MCSD plan is receiving some final touches and will be published tomorrow, July 31st. As hard as we tried, I know that there will be some people who agree with the plan, and some will not. As many questions as we tried to answer, I know there will be more that come. Families are just about to make very difficult decisions for each of their children. I encourage you to support each decision and show each other empathy and compassion. Let’s not let this issue divide our community, but let us create new ways to care and show support for each other. Remember, more than ever our children are watching us and counting on us to be models for them.

We can’t wait to see our students! Whether in-person or online we are committed to engaging with them in meaningful and fun ways!

Take care!

13 thoughts on “Moving Through Challenges, Together

    1. Hello,
      Thank you for reaching out through my blog. If you are talking about the survey that I referenced in my blog post, we sent that out via the information that is in our student database system (Infinite Campus) and also posted it on our website, facebook page and local media. If you are a parent, we may need to check your permission settings in Infinite Campus to make sure you are signed up to receive all of our communication. Someone will get in touch with you next week to get this fixed.
      Thanks again for reaching out. If you don’t receive notification by Saturday morning about our Return to Learn plan, you can find a link to the full plan on our website (by Saturday morning) at http://www.mcsd.org.

      Communication is definitely intended for all!

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      1. Amiessa

        Hi, I just thought I would let you know that I also did not receive the email survey. I found it on your website and completed it there. I received a text from MCSD that told me the survey would be in my email. It was not. My information has been in the database for many years, and I always receive emails. It feels like there was some type of glitch in the system this time. I just wanted to let you know that, as I was not sure how to pass the info along! Take care!

        Also… Thank you for the thoughtful blog post. I am looking forward to reading the plan.

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      2. Thank you for letting us know. Please reach out to your school or the district office just to be sure your settings are accurate. We will also double check our processes for distribution.

        Like

    1. Maya Haynes

      I support whatever deciding is made because I know it was well thought out. Thank you for considering all sides and talking to those involved. I sure don’t envy your job right now. These are trying times for sure.

      Like

      1. Kathleen Koeltzow

        There no way our community of students, staff and families will be safe. Increases are evident now in our county and the pediatric office has had children test positive. The buildings air handling systems are inadequate, buses are petri dishes when children are in the enclosed vehicle. I too would love to have classes in person, but not yet! Opening for in class learning and in a short time realize that it was a huge mistake and closing is much harder for everyone!

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  1. kristindemring

    Thank you for your thoughtful words – I look forward to seeing the plan. I appreciate your willingness to listen to the varied voices of the community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul

    It would be nice to know if our children are attending school or not! School supplies need to be bought, school clothes, are we having to pay fees!?

    Like

    1. Hi Paul. Thanks for reaching out. The MCSD Return to Learn plan was published last Friday and is available at MCSD.org. Elementary students who choose in person will be returning to school 5 days a week. Middle and High school students choosing in person will either be returning in a hybrid model or five days a week depending on how many kids choose that option. The survey closed this afternoon so we will be calculating that data soon. Specific school details will be published by each school on the 14th.

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