Superintendent’s Message – August 20, 2020

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Dear Families & Staff,

I hope this finds everyone enjoying the last few weeks of summer. As we begin the countdown to the first day of school, I’d like to provide some important updates.

  • The Back to School Recovery Plan has been posted on the CCPS website. 
  • The 2020-2021 school calendar was amended, and September 8th is the first day of school for students.
  • Thank you for completing the Student Information Questionnaire. It remains open for anyone still needing to provide contact, device, and connectivity information to schools.
  • Pre-K and new student enrollment information is also available on our website. 
  • Communication remains a critical part of this school year, which means keeping mail and phone information updated with your school. Please remember that specific questions may be answered by your child’s school, and general questions or feedback for the school board or district may be sent to either [email protected] or [email protected]

Without a doubt, this has been a unique and challenging summer for everyone. From curriculum to technology, maintenance to human resources, there is not a single corner of CCPS that has not had an important role to play in preparing for students to return to learning. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, technology has proven to be the most challenging aspect of distance learning. Initially we anticipated that providing WiFi hotspots to specific families would enable students to connect. If a hotspot did not solve the issue, a student would be brought into his or her school to participate in distance learning. However, testing has proven that hotspots are not as robust as needed. We continue to explore all options, but we are also preparing for a larger number of students to come into the building, into safe spaces with a proctor, in order to participate in distance learning on a device. 

September 8th is our start date, along with most other school systems in Maryland, meaning that almost 900,000 students will attend school online that day via distance learning. While planning has been exhaustive, no school system has a blueprint for distance learning on this scale, and we all will likely face frustrations and challenges. Computers may freeze, internet connections may slow down or boot us off. While we have tried to anticipate and eliminate as many issues as possible, we know that the first days of school will be challenging. As a result, schedules may be adjusted and other changes considered in the early stages of distance learning.    

As a part of our planning, we will conduct a ‘Test the System’ event on September 3, a time for teachers and as many students as possible to log into Zoom and connect for a short period.   This will enable our technology department to gather data and make adjustments as needed. It will also let families go through the login process prior to the first day of school. While not all students will be able to participate, we hope to engage a large percentage. Staff is working hard to ensure that most, if not all, devices will be made available for pickup from your child's school in advance of September 3. Families will be receiving complete Test the System event details next week from their schools.  

With these challenges in mind, please know that staff continue to work tirelessly to be prepared for the new school year. I believe what students will need most from all of us is patience and flexibility, showing them that we will handle adversity in a productive way. There is no doubt in my mind that we all want what’s best for students, and I have confidence that we will get through this challenging year together.

Stay safe and be well -

Patty Saelens, Superintendent