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The following is a letter written to the community on March 27 by Salida School District’s Superintendent David Blackburn:

“Dear Families,

As with most aspects in this scenario, I have less clarity than I would like. I will share with you what appears to be our path moving forward, and when to expect more information. Our prayers go out to those families that are facing economic hardships at this moment and our businesses that are struggling. Make sure to reach out for help. The district has supported the community emergency fund relief campaign, which has dollars available at this moment to support families.

The governor and public health orders now allow us to move forward with supporting families with distance learning. This is an important clarification as we do not expect “in-person” instruction to resume this academic school year. Students must engage the learning in order to complete the year. Our first focus is graduating Seniors and getting high school students complete credits for the school year.

All classes will resume for transcript credits on Monday [April 6] for Salida High School. There is increasing flexibility as we move lower in grade levels. Your teacher will email you those expectations on Monday. Your teacher will be able to answer curriculum questions and classroom level questions. They will be able to forward other questions on to building leadership to seek the information you need. We have never done this style of school-wide learning, and neither have you–so, extend grace and be patient. The first week’s primary goal is to create a short list of barriers we need to overcome to have all students engaged.

Some of our families do not have access to a computer. On Sunday [April 5] your building level principal will email you how your family might check-out a computer for the remainder of the school year. The directions they give you will be specific, down to bringing your own pen to sign documents.

This Tuesday’s access plan still requires public health’s approval, and is subject to change. Curbside assistance should be expected and you will remain in your vehicles. Parents are necessary to sign out any computer. This will not be an opportunity to access anything inside the building. We need to know if there are other barriers your family has to accessing digital options. Please share those needs when you pick up a computer. The computer loaning programming is not for everyone. It is a limited resource for families that do not have the needed tools. Do not attempt to hoard this resource. It is not like toilet paper, there are no more computers coming.

The office will be open via phone calls and emails, starting on Monday at 8 a.m. Our hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Our goal is a one day turn around in communication. Do not expect teacher feedback instantaneously on classroom questions, nor building answers. Give us a day. We will get better and more efficient as the weeks go by. We cannot sit down in a room and problem solve every possible planning question. We will  have to start and finish building the plane while in the air. Not our preference, nor yours, thus extending grace and practicing patience will be critical.

We are committed that no struggle to figure out this new system will hurt any student’s academic story. You do not need to be anxious. You do need to find a way to engage. Look for a principal email on Sunday. Look for a teacher email on Monday. Remember to reach out to others, stay connected in some manner. Humans don’t do well in isolation.

David Blackburn

Featured Image: The Salida School District meets in the Kesner Board Room (Photo by Taylor Sumners)