Superintendent’s school reopening message

Dear BKW community,

Six months ago we were focused on the coming spring and all the school activities that go with the last quarter of the school year. In what seemed to be an instant, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus turned the world upside down. In the interest of public health and safety, the Governor ordered schools closed, beginning March 18, and over the following weeks, a society went into lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. Early on, we acknowledged, “we are in this together.” Today, as a result of our collective community sacrifices, support, and hard work, the BKW school community is ready to welcome our students, faculty and staff back to work preparing students for their future.

Let me say this to all of you, “Thank you!!! I am humbled and proud to be a member of the BKW Bulldog community.” I have observed this community abide by the expectations laid out by State officials, seen 24,000 meals delivered to those in need, watched students and families work with faculty to navigate virtual learning environments, participated in celebration parades and an awesome student designed drive-in graduation ceremony. Most recently, as we turned our attention toward reopening, I was impressed by the efforts of more than fifty (50) stakeholders who labored for two months to design a safe plan for returning to school. As we rolled that plan out to parents and the community, I was most impressed with the engagement and participation in the six (6) open forums held to share information and answer questions. Recognizing the unpredictable nature of the virus, and the expected protocols to ensure safety, we have all learned to be flexible and responsive to individual needs, while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Kudos to our community!!!

As we venture into the new school year, let’s do so with hope and optimism, while being disciplined and focused. Faculty and staff will participate in training and planning in the coming week, and students will come to school on Friday, the 11th. We are confident in our plans for
distancing, face coverings, health check system, and plan to manage those who are sick. It is important that we all do our part each day.

All students and employees MUST complete the health attestation every day to be admitted to the building. Please do not send a sick child to school, nor should employees come to work if sick. Masks are essential to stopping the spread of this virus. They are required and all parties are expected to wear face coverings. Although we will help students who may struggle with the mask at times, the goal is compliance.

The buildings are transformed into great new learning spaces, with the most advanced technology capacity in the entire Hilltowns region. We will utilize that technology from day one to make sure all students have equal access to learning. My guess is that there will be some early learning curves with the in person, remote, and hybrid instructional delivery methods. However, I have been impressed with the team learning of our faculty and the skills of our students to find the path. This truly is a new environment and it holds great potential.

We must remember, although technology is a key element, our mission is centered on students, their well being and their learning. We have redesigned our student support system to ensure we have equitable counseling resources at all levels, as well as an efficient way to process student needs on a daily basis.

By teaming up together, we will be able to embrace these bold and courageous shifts in our system. We may find things that need to change for improvement, and we may find new things that are truly excellent. Our open communication and thoughtful engagement with each other is the key to success.

We must keep in mind that the virus is still out there, as we have seen with the return of college students to campuses around the state. Thus, it is imperative that we are disciplined and focused on the basics of containing the virus. Masks, distancing, and barriers are the most important elements in the process. I am sure we will find successful patterns within the first weeks of school.

Thank you for your support and trust. We are in it together, and will be stronger as a result. “They are because we are!”

Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools