As we complete three-quarters of the school year, we feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for our teachers, staff, administration, parents, and community members who helped make this year work for our students. It is not perfect. It is not at all “normal.” But we have students physically in school everyday. Let us say that again: We have students physically in school EVERYDAY.
Since the first day of school, we started with students in school with their friends and learning from their teachers. In our elementary schools we split the students into two groups, while in the middle and high school we split them into four groups. This schedule enabled us to enforce social distancing requirements as set by the local health district and state officials. It also helped us learn how to safely transport students to school, conduct daily health checks, maintain social distancing between class changes, and feed every student safely. Easier said than done, for sure. After a couple of months of refining our processes, we doubled the number of students in our schools by combining the two groups in elementary into one and the four groups in secondary into two. Elementary students are now in school everyday, while secondary students are in school two to three times per week. In addition, any family who is not comfortable with their child coming to school in person is issued a laptop device and an Internet hotspot if needed so they can attend school remotely. We believe we have a safe solution for every student and staff member.
If you were to watch the news, you may never know that we have been in school in person since the beginning of the school year. Story after story tells us that teacher unions, school boards, community members, parents, and school officials across the nation cannot, for whatever reason, come to the table and work out a solution together. We are not here to judge them or their decisions – but we can compare and contrast our progress and take pride in the fact that together, we made a real difference in our students’ lives. When we all come back to school this fall, other students who have not been in school will need to take a giant leap back into normal. Our students will take a normal step and more easily get back into the groove. We accomplished this. We did this together as TEAM Riverside. One community!
This year is not perfect. This year is not what anyone wanted. But together we brought our students back into our school in person to ensure they received the best education possible during a global pandemic. Thank you to everyone who stepped up and made a difference!
Dr. Ken Russell, Superintendent
Christian Hoenike, Riverside Education Association, President
Tami Boone, Public School Employee, President
Kim Foster, First Student Transportation
Karla Shaffer, Food Service Director for Sodexo
Eric Rux, IT Director