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Weekly Staff Message from Superintendent Sanders - Jan. 15, 2021

Jan. 15, 2021

Words cannot express my appreciation to you all.  It was wonderful to see students back on buses, back in our elementary schools, with their teachers and educational support professionals.  It was great to see my social media feed full of students returning to school and to see teachers posting photos of their experiences seeing their students in person.  To have a positive impact on the lives of students is why we all chose to work in public education, so this week was certainly special.

I also want to recognize our middle and high school teachers who have returned to their buildings this week in preparation for the return of students next week.  Thank you!

That said, I understand that the return to buildings causes anxiety.  I addressed some of the pandemic safety concerns in my column last week, and we continue to work through any concerns brought forward.  Remember, you can watch the YouTube video of this week’s Board meeting to get an update on our plans. Additional staff pandemic safety resources are found on the U-46 Staff Intranet at this link (and this link for the public web site). 

I also recognize that anxiety among our staff, our students, and our community remains high as a result of the attack on our nation’s Capitol building and non-stop media coverage of safety and security concerns stemming from FBI warnings of armed protests both in Washington DC and across all 50 states as we near next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The strategies I shared on January 5, using the Teaching Tolerance resources, continue to resonate with me. The broad themes are appropriate to offset the anxiety related to (or brought on by) the pandemic and from FBI warnings.  I have an update to the strategies and would like to share them again here:

  1. Listening - provide an opportunity for students (or even colleagues) to express how they are feeling.
  2. Protecting - Help to protect students from misinformation and become critical consumers of their sources of information.  Be honest and factual, but remain calm.
  3. Modeling - Teaching Tolerance uses the term “model” to mean “help students translate feelings of hopelessness into opportunities.”  Given the significance of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Teaching Tolerance suggests you connect today’s events to those experienced by Dr. King, and they provide resources you can consider.   
  4. Taking care of yourself - Check in with each other and know that we have resources available for employees through our Employee Assistance Program, as well as your trusted colleagues.

We will continue to get through this time by helping one another while also taking the time to  notice the smiles behind the masks. Thank you again for helping re-open our school doors for students this week. We have a great team. 

All my best,