Guest Commentary: A new school year begins; welcome back!
Welcome back to all our students and district family. We are so happy to see you all, whether online or in person.
These past few months have been very different for all of us. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our daily lives to continue to stay healthy and safe. The School District of Lee County is no exception. We, too, have had to make changes to our teaching and learning environment in order to support the health and safety of our students and staff.
In planning for the 2020-2021 school year, we recognize that our families have different needs. Therefore, we worked to develop four learning models for our students, giving families options for learning both online and in person. Our teachers, staff, and administrators have worked tirelessly to implement these models and help our students through this new learning process. Our teachers have had to get more creative in their day-to-day environments, by adding practicing health and safety measures during face-to-face instruction and developing new ways to keep students engaged during online learning.
One of the biggest changes that came to our already available online learning option was the dramatic increase in enrollment of Lee Virtual School (LVS) that grew from just under 400 students to nearly 7,000. Although the number of teachers and staff was increased to help support this growth, it has been a challenging endeavor for them, as well as for our families who are new to this platform. We are thankful for their diligence and patience during this transition.
I want to also take time to acknowledge the work of the support staff. The phones have been ringing non-stop and emails have increased dramatically. The district and school staff has worked, and continues to work to answer parent calls and emails as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our bus drivers are ready and masked up to safely take our children to school, and in-between are making sure that their buses are sanitized and ready to go out again. Our maintenance staff continues to enhance cleaning procedures at our schools. The Food and Nutrition Services team is busy preparing nutritious meals for all our students. The Human Resources team continues to work to ensure that we have sufficient teachers and staff to support our students’ learning.
It has been a bit of rocky start, and I know it is going to continue to be a little bumpy. That is to be expected. However, we also started off strong. Our students showed up, masked and ready to learn, and are all practicing safety measures to keep themselves and their classmates healthy. Our online students are adapting to their new virtual learning environment. We’ll continue to see some bumps on the road, but we must all work together and have patience. It takes all of us, from the district to our families, to make this all work. Thank you to our Hero’s who make this possible, our teachers, administrators, support staff, bus drivers, kitchen workers, parents, and community members. Let’s have a very successful year!
— Debbie Jordan School Board Member, District 4; Vice Chair