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Dr. Higgins: Important update about March instruction and more

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize USD 266 I have thought a great deal about your child(ren) during the past week.  I’ve thought about the high school senior who has dreamed about receiving the diploma she earned at graduation.  I’ve thought about the freshman who had just discovered a passion for biology and couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom after break.  The 7th-grader preparing for his first track meet and the 5th-grade student who has been dreaming about his elementary school “send-off” since Kindergarten have both crossed my mind.  I get hugs when I visit elementary schools, so I cannot imagine how many hugs are shared each day that will not happen for several more months, and may be very much needed.  The school closure already has been difficult to process and, for some, will only get tougher. This is why it will be critical that our OneMa1ze school community comes together now more than ever.  I am sure many of you are anxious about next steps, so I wanted to provide the best update I can at this time.

Staff members have been working to build a plan to provide support and instruction during the school building closure.  Our plan is being designed based on the Continuous Learning framework created by a Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Task Force.  We expect to have a final draft of the plan complete on Monday, March 23rd and will begin working with teachers, administrators, and other staff members to prepare for implementation on Monday, March 30th.  Many educators have been working through Spring Break on this project, but we need just a bit more time to finalize a few important details.  While we encourage teachers to continue to connect with students and parents, we do not expect formal instruction to begin before the 30th of this month.  While no final decision has been made about the length of our academic year, it appears unlikely at this time that it will extend beyond the last day currently scheduled for May 20, 2020.

While we would love to be able to provide the same level of teaching and learning that our students, parents, and teachers expect, the reality of the sudden change in how we conduct business will not make that possible.  What we all can expect is the best effort possible, under these circumstances, from both our teachers and students. We, of course, will rely on parents more than ever as a partner in their child(ren)’s education, and we thank you in advance for your critical role this spring.  Our focus will be on maintaining connections with our kids, your children, to support both their academic and social-emotional needs. We know the school building closure is tough on parents and children, and we are committed to working together to produce the best possible outcome.  If we offer one another grace throughout the next two months, I believe we all will be better in the long run.

I expect that we, later this week, will communicate a summary of our continuous learning plan to all households.  At some point in the next ten days, we expect that our Maize Board of Education members will be asked to take formal action on that plan, along with other resolutions, to help us make necessary changes to allow us to finish our work this school year.

Tomorrow, we intend to invite you and all parents to complete a digital survey to gain a better understanding of what technology needs exist in our students' homes.  Please take a minute to respond, as we will work to touch base with every single student home. Additionally, nursing staff members are working to return necessary prescription medication to students early this week, and we expect to begin breakfast and lunch distribution throughout the district by Wednesday.  In the next two or three weeks, we hope to have collected individual student property from classrooms and lockers with a plan to return items in a safe manner.

Please stay in touch with us, and we will answer as many questions as we can, when we can.  If you, or someone you know, needs our support, please say something. We invite you to e-mail contact@usd266.com, e-mail me at chiggins@usd266.com, and/or make a submission at https://www.usd266.com/speakup.  We have excellent resources and passionate professionals working in the Maize schools, and we don’t want to miss an opportunity to help.

For the health and safety of our employees, we will not open our schools or offices tomorrow.  Please direct general district questions to contact@usd266.com.

Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward as OneMa1ze.