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Clarkston Community School District

From Superintendent Ryan: School Closure Update

From Superintendent Ryan: School Closure Update

Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,

As we are all processing Governor Whitmer's latest Executive Order to close school buildings for the remainder of the school year, I know most of you are wondering what this means for your family. In my own home, the conversations have revolved heavily around what's presumed to be lost: classroom interactions, connections with friends, end-of-year rites of passage.

I am quick to remind my children, as I am reminding you now, that the Governor closed schools and school campuses. She did not cancel classroom interactions, connections with friends, or rites of passage. We may need to abandon any preconceptions of what these rites of passage will look like, but make no mistake: we will celebrate our students and their accomplishments. As CHS Principal Gary Kaul said in his video to students today, these celebrations may look very different from the traditions we are used to. Our behaviors may be dictated by our current circumstances, but as they say necessity is the mother of invention and we still have our creativity and ability to aspire for more. We are collaborating as a team and involving staff and will be reaching out to families as well to think through all of the implications that this premature end of the school year brings. Though we are feeling a sense of loss on many levels, I believe this "new normal" will give way to innovation and even deeper bonds. None of us will certainly forget this period of our lives.

Our collective work starts Monday with one thing, and one thing only: an open mind.

On Monday, April 6, we will begin our previously planned virtual at-home learning. (Elementary students will access their weekly plan on their grade-level pages of their school website, and secondary students should check their district-issued email.) I want to reiterate to you that we have never done virtual at-home learning on this scale in our district before. Your child's teacher is new at this. Your student is new at this. You are new at this. We fully expect some challenges this week. Likewise, we expect our at-home learning model to evolve over time. We're playing the long game now. I ask you to greet the next few weeks with creativity, curiosity, and a healthy tolerance for ambiguity (at least to start)! Our goal is to come together to formulate simple, short-term solutions for moving learning forward.

As your student heads "back to school" on Monday, our administrative team is continuing the important work of processing through the unknowns to determine the most appropriate finish to the 2019-2020 school year: How will we continue to support the needs of our staff and families? Will there be final grades and if so, how will they be fairly determined? How will we honor all of those important rites of passage? When will students get their yearbooks and their possessions from school? And so many more questions.

Please know these clarifying conversations are happening already. We will seek your feedback in some of these areas and will communicate all of the details as they're available.

Our focus remains solely on the well-being of students, staff, and families. We will not lose sight of the fact that we are where we are right now because there is a true, global pandemic emergency in our midst. Your family's health comes first, and we are here to support in any way we can.

I hope you and your family enjoy this much-needed sunshine this weekend! Our entire teaching staff is beyond excited to connect with your children on Monday. We are ready! We are Clarkston.

Shawn Ryan
Superintendent of Schools