May 20, 2020
Dear Ridgefield Families,
We are now less than one month from the official end of our school year, June 19. I am proud of our community and the work we have done to “flatten the curve.” The task has not been easy, and it has not come without considerable sacrifice. Once again, I extend my appreciation to each of you for the grace and patience you have demonstrated as we transitioned to our distance learning model.
More specifically, I wish to thank the members of the Class of 2020 for their sacrifices. Their RHS careers came to a screeching halt three months early. Our seniors missed experiencing a number of “lasts;” their last game and performance, last lunch at school with friends, last prom, and many more. Fortunately, we can do something to give them a memorable send-off. On June 5, as part of our graduation ceremony, seniors and their families will drive through Ridgefield in an auto parade. I invite you to join me in safely celebrating their accomplishments and commemorating the conclusion of their K-12 experience. Look for final parade route details on June 1.
Just as we are focusing on the conclusion of the current school year, we are also looking ahead to next year. Rest assured, the District is working hard, planning and preparing for another school year with the realities of COVID - more on some of these plans to come later in this letter. What we know for sure, learning will continue. I encourage each of you to continue to engage in every learning opportunity that our staff are making available.
We are pleased to share that our remote WiFi Hot Spots are being accessed by families. We plan to continue this service to support our Continuity of Learning Plan. As with all our programs, we will continue to monitor use, potentially adjusting the locations to reach more families. If you are looking for connectivity a little closer to home, below is a link to free and low-cost Internet Plans from NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance). https://www.digitalinclusion.org/free-low-cost-internet-plans/
We supported our Continuity of Learning Plan with the distribution of more than 750 Chromebooks to students. A reliable device is essential to participation in any distance learning model. In a previous ThoughtExchange, we heard from respondents that flexibility in learning (time, place, and pace) is a benefit of our new remote learning world.
As we look to the 2020-2021 school year, we are reviewing our district technology model to support a more flexible learning environment. Specifically, the district is exploring the move to a 1:1 Chromebook take home model. What might this look like? Our second through 12th grade students will be provided a district Chromebook in the fall for use at home and in school, rather than keeping all the Chromebooks on charging carts in classrooms. This will allow student learning to continue beyond the “regular” school day, times, and locations.
The opening of the 2020-2021 school year will be much different than any we have experienced before. There is so much that is still unknown. What I can tell you is currently, I do not believe a “traditional” start will be possible. A reopening schools task force is expected to have recommendations by mid-June. We continue to work closely with our fellow districts, colleagues at OSPI, and members of the public health community. I will keep you updated as we know more.
With all that said, summer may provide a window where we can offer more in-person opportunities for students. To the greatest extent possible, we will operate our summer programming. This includes running summer camps through Community Education, sports camps, and preparations for the fall sports season. I share this with the caveat that we will always adhere to the “Safe Start” orders in place at the time.
As always, stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.
Dr. Nathan McCann