Letter from the Superintendent - Sept 21, 2020

Letter from the Superintendent - Sept 21, 2020
Posted on 09/21/2020
LetterDear Chester Academy Families,

We have now completed two weeks of our school year in the Adapted-In-Person (AIP) model. The School Reopening Committee would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our teachers and staff members who have worked tirelessly to prepare for the return of our students and who continue to challenge themselves daily to improve on the process. No sweeping change, like this one, comes without its fair share of challenges. From the smallest details to the largest hurdles we are proud of the determination and the can and will-do attitude that is evident throughout our building each day.

We would also like to acknowledge the determination of our families to ensure the successful return of their youngsters to school. Whether participating in person or via telepresence, the level of engagement we have seen to date underscores the importance that our families place on education. Thank you for your patience in addressing the new challenges we face and thank you for leading by example. Your support is crucial to successfully navigating our circumstances this school year.

As we head into the next several weeks, continuing to develop our new routines, please be encouraged that the Chester School Board, the SAU, the Administration, and our Faculty and Staff are eager to hear your suggestions and concerns. Open and honest communication is a vital tool that will make the difference between a successful year and a missed opportunity.

Our current enrollment Pre-K through Grade 8 is 486. We have 401 students attending in person and 85 students participating through telepresence. Parents of 10 students currently in telepresence have requested that their child returns to in-school over the next two weeks.

Presently, in accordance with the guidelines from our Chester School District Reopening Plan, we are able to remain in the AIP model. While positivity rates have experienced a slight increase generally in NH, locally and within Rockingham County, case counts remain below the threshold that would necessitate a change from the AIP model. One area that continues to challenge us is having enough substitutes to cover when staff members are out of the building. Please encourage any interested individuals to contact the Principal’s office, so that this issue does not cause us to have to move into another model.

Our staff has worked to streamline the bus and commuter arrival and dismissal process. Their efforts appear to be working. Teachers continue to address meeting the needs of students in class as well as those youngsters utilizing the telepresence option. Appropriate technology has been provided to youngsters by our Technology staff. We have modified our class structure and program delivery to provide safe cohorts of students. Our Food Service staff have risen to the challenge of providing lunches in the classroom. Our Custodial and Maintenance staff are providing cleaning services based upon CDC guidelines. While there was some confusion circling the community with regard to mask breaks, we believe that we now have students and staff sharing the same understanding of the procedures for these breaks. Providing enough spaces for recess by classroom continues to be a challenge, but we are working on it. We have two tents set up that can be used in inclement weather as soon as the town completes their inspection and approval process. Thank you to the Chester Boy Scouts for providing the tents.

With regard to Fall sports, we have heard from concerned families about the missed opportunities of not providing a sports program. We want to assure you that we are reviewing options for the Winter season and beyond. We would also like to commend the group for the detailed research and willingness to partner with Chester Academy to provide the broadest spectrum of engagement for our students. At this point our resources and efforts are focused on providing for the needs of all our students in the classroom whether that is physical or virtual.

Again, we extend our sincerest thanks to each of you for remaining focused and engaged as we innovate our way through the remainder of the school year. We can do this!

Warm Regards,

Darrell J. Lockwood, Ed.D.