Covid 19 Update #12 April 23, 2020

Hello Georgetown Friends,
I am sorry for my delay in publishing this post. Believe me, I had hoped to post yesterday but I just was not able to make it happen and I apologize for that. I want to reach out to you with a message of encouragement and hope but will begin by saying that, like most of you, I am sad about the Governor’s decision to close schools for the reminder of the year ,although I support his decision. Given the circumstances and the scientific data that the virus is not under control, there was just no way to guarantee the safety of our staff and students and that had to be the highest priority. To be honest, I expected it but somehow hearing the words and facing the reality in that moment still brought tears to my eyes. Not only do I feel the personal loss of our routines, our connections to one another and time with our precious students, my heart goes out to our staff, students, especially our seniors, and families who will not have the chance to share the end of the year activities and celebrations in the manner in which they have in the past. This does not mean that all of these events are cancelled at this time because we remain hopeful that we will be able keep some of our treasured traditions alive even though they will have to be done in a different way. We know these rituals and rites of passage are important but right now we are dealing with a force that is bigger than us and one that offers little predictability. We are using the guidelines from the federal government and coordinating with state and local officials. This guidance and the status of the virus will determine the actions we will take as we move through the next few months. Our best course of action will be to control the things that we can control , plan things and make the best of every opportunity as it comes along. Our emotions may tell us that we want to go back to normal sooner than later but I urge all of us to be patient as we work together to make the end of this school year the best we can for our students. They are at the heart of all of the decisions we will make.

Within hours of the announcement by the Governor , the level of anxiety and panic increased dramatically. I think everyone realized that in that moment the hope we were holding on to so dearly was dashed. The emotional reaction was palpable and intense for different reasons for different people and a million questions came up about the challenges of continuing remote learning for another eight weeks , the plans for graduation and other special ceremonies, and in general , how the rest of the year was going to look. Our collective reaction is predictable and normal and we should all acknowledge that it is alright to feel a sense of loss , disappointment, fear and worry. I have personally felt all of these emotions but I am finding as the days pass, I am more committed than ever to turning our challenges into opportunities and maintaining a positive attitude that addresses issues and concerns that we all care so much about! At the same time, I am excited to focus on highlighting and celebrating the successes of our school community during this time. I have been so heartened by the emails and pictures I have received of families working and learning together, teachers helping each other and reaching out to students to be sure they are alright and getting the assistance they need, the joy of students connecting with peers and teachers using teleconferencing tools like Google Hangout and Zoom and the amazing examples of collaboration that I have learned about from so many parents and teachers. To be clear. I know that this is not easy nor is it perfect but we are in this together. Every day I receive emails from parents who are struggling to help their students navigate remote learning but who say it is getting easier as things are more familiar and predictable. We have families who have multiple students in multiple grades and multiple schools who are overwhelmed trying to keep it all straight but who go out of their way to commend the teachers and support staff who are reaching out and making this work. I have spoken to families who are essential employees who are not able to be home to assist their children but they are grateful for the flexibility and understanding of teachers. These families are doing the best they can and we appreciate that! Going to school levels the playing field but with remote learning we have to remember that every one of our families is dealing with different circumstances and all we ask is that you do the BEST you can! We are here to help and work with you. If your child is having trouble staying engaged, organizing and prioritizing work, feeling overwhelmed or if you have ANY questions, please reach out to the teachers and/or the Principals. You have enough to worry about and we do not want you to struggle with this. I promise that you will get the help you need if you just reach out. This is new to everyone and we understand.

I know many of you are worried and I understand. While I can not take away all of your worries, I promise that I will answer all of your questions as soon as I can. I am sorry I can not provide an end of the year that is traditional but we are planning to recognize our students in some very special ways that will be memorable to them and their families, I am sorry that our students and staff may not be together physically to say goodbye in June but I know our teachers will continue to reach out and stay connected with their kiddos right up until the last minute of the last day letting them know they are proud of each and every one of them! They will make sure to close this crazy year in a very special way so students will be ready to move on in the fall. I am sorry that students will not complete the entire curriculum this spring but I know that the work they have down will help them be ready for the next grade. I have complete faith that our teachers will catch them up in the fall.

What I know about kids is that they are resilient! They always amaze me with their ability to see situations for what they are and make adjustments. They can see the positive in a situation and will do whatever they can to meet expectations when they have what they need. They are ready to move onto the next adventures much faster than we are as adults. There is no doubt that this is probably one of the most challenging situations that our students have faced in their young lives, but we know from our own experiences that these challenging situations are often the ones from which we learn the most. Many good things have happened. I am confident that our students have gained valuable technology skills, learned how to be more independent, had the chance to explore their passions and new ways of learning, had the opportunity to develop new life skills, and, most of all, learned how to deal with adversity and come out on the other side. There are positives in every situation and it is important to keep things in perspective. As they say ,”This too shall pass” and together we will be stronger for it. I am confident that our kids are going to be alright and together we will make sure of that!

One of the best ways I know to get through tough situations is to surround ourselves with positivity and to celebrate our collective successes. One of the highlights of my day is to check out Facebook and see pictures of kids and families doing fun things together, highlighting special accomplishments, performing a special skill they have learned, posting fun videos, displaying work proudly or posting motivational messages. We happen to have an underutilized district Facebook page called Georgetown, MA Public Schools and we would like to flood this feed with contributions from staff and families showing how we are making the most of this challenging time. My main goal is to bring smiles to our faces and share a sense of pride in what we are accomplishing together. We have lots of great things to share so please like the page, share to the page or send any information you would like us to post to georgetownconnects@georgetown.k12.ma.us We have a team ready and looking forward to posting , so please join in the fun!

In my next post, I will begin providing answers to some of the commonly asked questions, but if you have any specific questions, please email me at jacobsc@georgetown.k12.ma.us so I can get them on my list.

Here are a couple of quotes I think apply to our current situation. Enjoy!
For our parents- ” Some superheroes don’t wear capes. They are called parents.” Thanks for being the superheroes in your child’s life during this challenging time.

For our staff- “I want to inspire people., I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you, I didn’t give up”
Thank you for continuing to inspire your students to keep learning during this challenging time!

To our seniors- ” Be grateful for all of the obstacles in your life. They have strengthened you as you continue on your journey” – We are proud of every member of the Class of 2020 and the way you have handled this adversity. You did not deserve this but you have shown that you are strong, bold and resilient. The best is yet to come for you! Keep being awesome!

All of Us- “If you stay positive, you’ll see opportunities instead of obstacles”, Confucious
Let’s stay positive and move forward together! We’ve got this!

With deep respect and appreciation.
Carol