A few weeks ago, we shared with you some initial thoughts about what our classrooms might look like when we can safely open our buildings to teachers, staff and students again. As we now know, schools will not operate in the same way that they did prior to the pandemic. This week, we moved closer to developing a re-entry plan that includes several key components of our organization and community members who have come to rely on Las Cruces Public Schools for guidance in preparing our children for a safe and meaningful educational experience.
This group is our LCPS Superintendent’s Re-Entry Task Force, a collaboration of district administrators, department heads, students, Board of Education members, union leaders, teachers and community leaders. This diverse group of stakeholders will make recommendations to ensure we meet the safety, educational and social and emotional well-being of students, staff and community during the 2020-2021 school year. In the course of two meetings, we developed a vision that will shape the infrastructure to provide an equitable, student-centered, flexible, learning environment that cultivates civic engagement, promotes excellence, and celebrates diversity in a healthy and safe manner where all students can receive high-quality instruction that meets their needs. In accomplishing all of this, we must also create a safe environment that accounts for wellness checks, social distancing, and a myriad of other safety protocols that have yet to be defined as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
Within the Task Force we have identified seven subcommittees, each of which is directed by leaders in our district who bring a wealth of knowledge and talent in their own areas of expertise: Athletics, Ernie Viramontes; Community Engagement, Kelly Jameson; Health, Sandy Peugh; Safety, Todd Gregory; Instruction, Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson; Operations, Gabe Jacquez; Student Support Services, Dr. Roberto Lozano, and Technology, Josh Silver. Two students are also on the Task Force, Adelaide Olberding and Stephen Ewing, and members with the National Education Association, Las Cruces chapter, and Classified School Employees Council of Las Cruces are represented. Our subcommittees have reached out to various members within our district and community to ensure we have many voices that will guide us in our research, assessment and planning.
Prior to assembling our Task Force, we looked at several re-entry plans from other districts and states. Many of them have similar components that we will need to adopt and refine to meet the needs of our community. Ultimately, the plan will need to adhere to the guidance outlined by the New Mexico Public Education Department which will be released sometime this week. We also know that a timeline is vital to keeping our planning on track and our community informed. Here’s what that timeline looks like right now:
- June 1-5: Identify Task Force, assign groups; finalize technology and internet needs
- June 8-12: Review buildings to determine capacity for social distancing, determine what PPE needs to be ordered
- June 25: Present preliminary information to the Las Cruces School Board
- July 6-10: Finalize re-entry plans, produce document for Board review; messaging to families
- July 13-17: Finalize transportation needs
- July 13-24: Finalize courses, including digital learning components, professional development needs for teachers, parents
- 3-7: Host virtual meetings for our community
- 12: School starts
We understand there is no perfect plan that can serve as a blueprint to return our schools back to the pre-pandemic normal we once knew by Aug. 12. A lot of our plan will depend on current public health orders and direction from the Department of Health. We realize that parents will have additional feedback and ideas, and we want to hear from you. Students have an equally important voice and our student Task Force members will ensure that you have an opportunity to share your thoughts. Regular communication will be distributed via traditional media, social media and we have identified a dedicated location on our website where you can get updates on the progress of the Task Force.
Thank you in advance for your patience and your confidence in our district to put together a plan that will work for our students. Should you have a concern or a question, we have created an easy way for you to share those with us. Please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Dr. Karen Trujillo, Las Cruces Public Schools