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K-5 students to switch to remote learning Monday, Dec. 21

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on December 17, 2020

An important message for elementary families from Superintendent Jody Monroe.

Dear K-5 Family:

The surge in COVID-19 cases we began seeing in the district leading up to Thanksgiving and in the weeks since shows no sign of slowing. Last Friday, we made the decision to have our students in grades 6-12 switch to remote learning through the holiday break to address a districtwide staffing shortage and to preserve the continuity of instruction for students.

Today, we have made the very difficult decision to have our K-5 students switch to remote learning beginning Monday, Dec. 21 for the same reasons. A remote learning schedule will be provided to parents by your child’s teachers and all resources and materials for learning will be sent home with your child on Friday, Dec. 18. Students in Skills and Intensive Skills classes will continue to receive daily in-person instruction.

On Friday, Dec. 18, there will be in-person instruction at all elementary schools and remote instruction for students in grades 6-12. 

We have made every effort to keep our K-5 students in school for in-person instruction as long as reasonably possible. Now, reason tells us it is time to temporarily suspend classroom instruction at the elementary level.

Since Dec. 1, there have been 37 cases of COVID-19 reported in the district, with many of these now impacting our elementary schools. As a result of these cases, there are more than 340 BC students — and dozens of staff members – in quarantine. Every day, we are seeing more teachers and staff forced out of the classroom and into quarantine, sometimes as a result of being identified as a  contact at school, or often through contact at home. And though we have found ways to be creative in meeting these staffing challenges while maintaining a safe learning environment, the troubling rise in community spread of COVID-19 allows no room for error.

With the storm jeopardizing access to COVID testing and certainly slowing results, reporting and contact tracing, we see the switch to remote learning for our elementary students as the very best decision at a very difficult time.

We know that this is disappointing news for many families. Our students have done an amazing job of following health and safety protocols that have allowed us to get to this point, and parents, too, have been responsive, resilient and flexible in helping us keep in-person learning going. Our goal is to resume in-person learning in January with even more mitigation strategies, including access to COVID testing right here in the district, that will help strengthen our ability to deliver in-person learning to students.

As always, I thank you for your continued support for the school district as we navigate this most unusual school year. We could not do it without you. If you have any questions regarding this transition for elementary students, please feel free to email me at jmonroe@bethlehemschools.org.

Again, K-5 students will be provided with all necessary materials for at-home learning when they leave school on Friday, Dec. 18. If your family needs to make other arrangements for picking up these materials, please notify your building’s main office.

Sincerely,

Jody Monroe

Superintendent