Latest Update from Superintendent Gumina
July 2, 2020
Dear Webster CSD Parents/Guardians,
Thank you to more than 4,000 WCSD parents/guardians who responded to last week’s survey regarding the reopening of schools. As I mentioned in last week’s letter, your voice truly matters and it was heartening to read your responses as districts in our county, state, and nation plan for the 2020-21 school year. Your feedback is an important piece of this planning. Not surprisingly, 93% of you reported that the pandemic affected you and your household (40.4% reported a “noticeable impact, with planning for changes to daily behavior”; 28.4% reported “some impact, does not change daily behavior”; and 24.2% reported “significant daily disruption” to your families). The data confirms it, but I am well aware that the health crisis continues to impact all of our families in ways we could have never anticipated. Continue doing your best, knowing that your best will most likely look different on any given day. Parents/guardians of incoming 6-12 graders, please ask your kids to check their school emails as we will be sharing a similar reopening survey with them. Thank you!
As thankful as I am for hearing your feedback, I’m even more grateful to our parents/guardians who remind their kids (and loved ones) to keep New York State moving in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19 infection rates. Please continue to wash your hands, practice physical distancing when possible, and wear masks... #IWantToSeeStudentsInSeptember! I am still awaiting (as are all New York State superintendents) guidance from Governor Cuomo’s office regarding our reopening plans, but these straightforward guidelines remain of critical importance to all of us. What we do now as a community absolutely affects our rates of COVID transmission, and those rates determine what our reopening plans will look like in September. Please keep in mind that our schedules in September will be developed with flexibility in mind. That flexibility gives us the ability to pivot to a different schedule in a matter of 24-48 hours (i.e. moving from in-person learning to virtual learning or vice versa). I am not a betting man, but I would lay money down on the notion that our schedule on September 1 will not look like the schedule we have on December 1… and that it will look different again come April 1. But we can do this, and we are creating a plan that is the best we have to offer our community and will share details as soon as possible.
Our district also continues to work with state and county health officials on our graduation plans for the Class of 2020. Those plans should receive confirmation within the next few days so that we can announce finalized plans to families early next week. I appreciate your patience as this has been a long process, but one worth going through in order to safely celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments during their 13 years with us.
Have a great holiday, everyone! I look forward to seeing all of you again soon.
Superintendent of Schools
* PLEASE NOTE: You have received a message from the Webster Central School District. Due to the time sensitive nature of the information, the message has been sent in English. Should you need assistance translating the message into your preferred language, please email your child's principal and he/she will arrange for an interpreter to call you back. Please include the best phone number at which you may be reached.
We are approaching summer and the culmination of this extraordinary school year. There has been much speculation about the year 2020, what has transpired thus far, and what the remainder might look like. We are still in a very gray area where there are more questions than answers and clarity is obscured. If perfect vision is 20/20, what are we supposed to see? Are we seeing more clearly the value of public education and the importance of our local school districts? Perhaps the role of teachers and staff in adapting from emergency teaching to online instruction? The very real need we all feel to truly connect with one another and support the good and generous work in our community? Maybe we’re still trying to focus and find our way.
What we hope has become clear is the importance of public education and the foundational role it has in our society. Every child is entitled to a free education designed to prepare them for society and their ability to be contributing citizens. With very little notice, that foundation was shaken, and our lives grinded to a halt. Emergency teaching shifted to virtual learning and the roles and responsibilities of teachers and staff pivoted drastically. Students and their families sheltered in place and took on new roles with no preparation or training. Public education exists as the ideal and the reality we experience finds us missing this basic tenet of democracy.
Hopefully, what we have realized is that public education is far more than academics. Within our buildings, our students experience teachers and staff who care, who provide stability with concern, and exceptional learning environments with high expectations. Relationships bind everyone together through shared experiences in art, music, sports and a desire to excel in the exploration of ideas.
A recent 60 Minutes episode reflected on pandemics throughout history and the resulting changes to society. Paved streets, modern toilets, and a focus on improving public health and hygiene measures were the resulting infrastructure improvements from cholera, the bubonic plague, and the Spanish flu. Perhaps we will see improvements to infrastructure and increased protection of personal health, but we hope to also see an increased appreciation and support for public education. Maybe we’ll be able to see, with clear vision, that we have opportunities before us. We can unite, lift one another up and rise to meet our new challenges.
Please continue to persevere towards the end of the year knowing there are so many dedicated and knowledgeable people working behind the scenes to construct our new reality. We want our response to be defined by more than protocols and procedures, it is up to decide how we will be defined. We hope it is by our collective support and realization that public education matters to us all. We are public education.
Tammy Gurowski, President
Linda DIoguardi, Vice President
*Please click HERE to see previous correspondence from WCSD's Board of Education.