COVID-19/schools update from Superintendent Mundell

Dear BKW families and community,

I hope you are all safe and healthy. It has been a whirlwind the past three months. It is important to pause and express our appreciation to all our students, families, community members, and staff for having the grit and focus to make the shift to remote learning, despite digital challenges, and complete the school year with credible success. This was a heavy lift, with many problems to solve, but with patience and thought we found solutions to serve needs as they arose. I am grateful to be able to serve and support our students and community.

To everyone who participated in the budget vote and board elections. We are thankful for your vote of confidence and trust in supporting our budget and the current direction of our district.

I would be remiss if I did not say, “Congratulations” to the Class of 2020. With poise and grace, this group of young adults planned and executed a graduation ceremony like none before. They are a special group who has left an imprint on our district. I wish every single one of them the best for their future. They will do great things.

As the calendar has turned to July, our thoughts and planning have already been focused on the reopening of school in September. We have a fifteen (15) person task force meeting regularly and collecting current guidance and plans from around the country. We have very detailed guidance from the Center for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health, as well as a guidance document released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Our intent is to have our students back in school. We will also design operations and procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus- the use of masks where possible, handwashing, health screening of employees and visitors, disinfecting and cleaning throughout the day, and social distancing.

We believe it to be very important to have our youngest learners present to learn how to read and write, as well as effective social skills. We have been doing analysis of our instructional spaces and distancing protocols to guide our decisions about the healthiest way to deliver instruction to all students fairly.

We have taken steps to consider all student supports and delivery of services, including counseling, speech and OT/PT. We have made positive strides forward in the past few years, and we are determined to support students equitably in their efforts to continue the forward movement, academically and socially/emotionally.

In our secondary program, we may find we have ample space to conduct our programming on site. However, we see potential to create new opportunities for students to do hands-on projects, and/or work-based learning off campus under supervision. Our attitude is to find opportunity in every adversity or challenge.

Perhaps the two most challenging pieces to the puzzle are transportation and the uncertainty of future closures, whether short-term or long-term. We will be asking for more transportation feedback from parents in the coming weeks as we work to figure out how to transport students and abide by distancing rules.

In the event that we may have to close due to the virus at some point, or another, during the school year, we will maintain our remote platform capability. We know that some students do well in that setting, and we know that some students struggle in that setting. However, we must have a fall back position ready, if needed.

I will continue to share resources on our district website, so please stop in and review the current information. One of the lessons learned from the class of 2020 is that when we are unified, we can do anything. All segments of our staff are thinking through these issues, keeping students at the center of the thinking, and your feedback/support is greatly appreciated.

Enjoy some renewal time, and stay safe.

Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools