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My July Message
My July Message
Jeff Valence
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Dear Parents,

Hopefully, you have received and responded to the School Board's Survey about opening school. There has been, and will continue, to be feedback and questions related to this scenario. It is appropriate that there is, this is an unprecedented time.  The faculty, nurses, custodians, administrators, and I are working hard to address the myriad of details of to implement this, and alternate, plans — which, of course, may shift, if conditions or insight changes.  It feels like the weather in New England:  “Don’t like it?  Wait a minute, it may change."


Responding to the survey and indicating  your current inclination (this is not your final opportunity to decide) surrounding your return to in-school instruction will help us understand how we could configure our faculty, our classrooms, our furniture and our outdoor resources to support the needs of our families.


Currently, we are in the midst of finalizing various plans :

 Daily Disinfection Plan 
 Air Quality Plan, 
 Health Screening and Response Plan,
• Implementation Plan, 
• Communications Plan 
• Instructional Plan
Transportation Plan


As details are available I will be sharing them with the school community.  


The school will be distributing an electronic Enrollment Form closer to the start of school which will outline the options available to you for the start of school.  This is the point at which you will indicate your official enrollment decision which would be in place for your family for the first quarter (obviously with flexibility for changing conditions and situations).


There is a lot we need to do. We will be operating under less than typical or ideal teaching conditions, so I want to emphasize that our instructional methods will not be typical to what you or your students are familiar with taking place at the Lyme School.  But we will be maintaining our general principles to balance the social/emotional needs with the physical and intellectual needs of our students (Hearts, Hands and Minds).   We are also a very innovative and creative thinking faculty, so if there is a way to do something, we will find it if it is possible.


Given the restrictions of movement, we will be looking at periodic movement and play activities which maintain social distance, in addition to recess which would be less structured.  These activities, while not academically oriented, are equally important as they engage the social emotional interactions which for some have been limited by self isolation.  They also are intended to promote movement and the joy associated with play - which are equally vital to the well being of children.


This will logically take time from what could be devoted to academic pursuits.  However, given the distancing objectives, this work will be far more solitary and less physically active than how we typically teach.  As an educator,  teaching in these conditions is going to be incredibly challenging, knowing that there are far more effective and engaging methods which will be unavailable to us.  For those that are considering home learning, I am working to develop resources and support for this choice.  Knowing how many students are choosing in home versus in school will assist us in understanding what resources will be available.  Please feel free to call me with questions.


Relationships, patience and understanding have been the first casualty of isolation.  We will need to concentrate our energy on constructive and open communication.  For whatever period of time we are working in with these health measures, we will not see each others faces,  smile, expressions  or be able to communicate without obstacles.    This WILL lead to misunderstandings.  Knowing this, we will need to devote ourselves to presume the best and ask questions, speak directly with each other versus alternative or indirect channels, and understand that we are all working under less than ideal circumstances, but share the commitment to making the best of what we have to work with in our lives.   We are all likely struggling with other of life's unknown stressors.   This compounded anxiety and stress is be our greatest obstacle to maintaining healthy relationships.


Finally, I want to emphasize that we will work hard to implement our health mitigations.  As the Principal, I will wear a mask and work hard to set a positive model of adherence to our health mitigations.  It is very different for me not to have kids see my smile, it is my primary means to make sure people feel welcomed and loved.  For now,  the best way to do this is with a mask (masks = love - - An itchy, scratchy love, but love nonetheless).   


I also want to emphasize that we must be realistic about our expectations.  Even with all these mitigations, we can’t guarantee anything other than our best intent.  Mistakes will be made, children will be the best they can be, which may not be what is laid out in our plans.  We can not resort to shaming or demonizing individuals who lapse,  we can remind one another that the thing that is so distracting on your face, fogging your glasses, and reminding you to brush your teeth -- is missing from your wardrobe - like walking outside without pants (which, by the way, only happens in stress dreams).  


I look forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks. Most of all, I look forward to seeing all of you once again... some time.  I will be wearing a tie, my vest, and now, my mask. Each of which, in their own way, is saying “ Welcome back home, We love you.”  (and stay safe).


Jeff


Jeff Valence
Principal and Superintendent, Lyme School District SAU #76
35 Union Street, Lyme, New Hampshire 03768
www.lymeschool.org  |  facebook
Compassion • Integrity • Fairness • Perseverance • Courage• Responsibility • Acceptance of others • Individuality