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"The New Normal" by the Superintendent
Arleen Kovats
Thursday, September 10, 2020

“The New Normal!”

Dear Students, Staff and Community Members,

We are now three weeks into the new school year working under a whole different set of rules to accommodate “the new normal.” One of our big challenges is technology. We have many students who live in areas where there is no internet access or have other challenges with internet. We also have issues with students learning to log on to classes to be counted as present during the school day. I would like to expand on both of these problems.

We are issuing all students with some sort of device to use for when they are being educated remotely. In order for this to be successful, the student must have internet access. If they are here at school, they will have access to the internet and if they are home, we hope they have access. For those students who have no access, they need to go to an alternate location where they can access the internet. If still struggling, they may possibly qualify for a hot spot. The school has limited internet connectivity options and we deal with each specific situation on a case by case basis. Need will be the driving factor of who gets those resources. When I say “need,” I am not necessarily indicating financial need, but basic internet need will be the main criteria.

The second issue is attendance. Whether a student is here physically or attending online at home, we by law must report, via phone dial out, if the student is attending school. This legislation is called “The Alianna Alert” and was put in place so parents would know if their student did not report to school, so they could investigate their immediate whereabouts. Our challenge is if there are students who are at home and do not log in within a specific time, we are obligated to call out to the parents. We have put processes into place to make this work better as we know that many students are logging in and not being counted due to a failed online procedure or being falsely reported as absent. Please bear with the new process as it is getting better each day.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for all the extra work they go through to make “the new normal” work. It has been extremely taxing on the students, parents and our staff. It sure is not like the old traditional school setting, but we have been safe, participated in extracurricular activities and kids are learning to the best we can teach them under these conditions. It seems like everything is working without issues and if there are no setbacks, I intend to have Grades 6-12 students start reporting to school on Wednesdays. In fact, if all goes well, we plan to send out communications to have Grades 6-12 students start reporting on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. This would get some more students with direct teacher instruction three days a week.  We realize each week parents will get many communications from the schools, but please be patient and try to listen and understand all of them so implementation of “the new normal” process will be smoother as time moves forward. Someday we will be back to the “old normal” and that can’t come soon enough for me.  Have a healthy and safe weekend!

Dr. William R. Nye Jr.
Superintendent, Grand Valley Local Schools