This week was “spring break” in Northfield. It was anything but a “normal” spring break. The global pandemic health crisis resulting from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted daily lives across the globe. I am incredibly proud of our school community’s response to this surreal set of circumstances. I am inspired by the selfless actions taken by our school staff. Here are just a few examples:
- Our child nutrition team quickly shifted to preparing grab-and-go meals for our students in need. In less than 72 hours, they got three sites running for drive-through/walk-up service. They continued serving meals over spring break even we weren’t required to do so. Their commitment to continuous improvement is on display as we will add bus routes to our food distribution plan starting next week.
- Our community services division shifted to provide care for the children of emergency and health care workers. Again, in about 72 hours. They stand ready to support these students’ distance learning as we transition to it on Tuesday. Our school nurses are rotating in, completing health screenings at check-in, and giving medical services to students in our childcare center.
- Our teaching staff provided fantastic ideas and suggestions about the development of our distance learning plans just before spring break. During spring break, there are multiple stories of teachers getting together via the Zoom videoconferencing platform to practice before starting with our students on Tuesday, March 31. They are becoming proficient in new ways of remote instruction. Their work to support each other and our students during this massive shift in how we provide public education is impressive in every sense of the word. When the distance learning period ends, our staff will leverage this experience to enhance our face-to-face instruction. An early childhood special education teacher delivered learning materials to every one of his students’ homes. I could go on and on about our world-class faculty!
- Our technology staff has been in overdrive, making sure every student has access to as school device, helping support teachers as they master new tools they will use in their distance learning instruction, and providing excellent service with a smile.
- Our administrators have worked nearly non-stop over the past two weeks to help bring the traditional school environment to closure and set the systems that will support a positive distance learning environment. Their work to establish our distance learning guiding principles set a vision we can all be proud of – and one that will inform and guide our instruction over the next month (or more.)
- Our custodial team has been diligent in cleaning and disinfecting our buildings. In this time of distance learning, they will maintain our facilities and ensure their security. They are also getting a head start on some projects scheduled for this summer. They are one hard-working crew!
- Our district office and building administrative assistants are ensuring the business of the District continues unabated. We are making sure our bills are paid, and payroll is completed to support our local economy. This group does its work in virtual anonymity unless something goes wrong. Let’s just say they remain anonymous at this point.
- Our Educational Assistants are preparing to support every student during our distance learning phase. Whether they are immersed in our distance learning platforms or helping students at the childcare center, these unsung heroes are ready to provide excellent support for our special needs learners and beyond.
- Mar Valdecantos, our District’s Spanish language translation contractor, has turned around dozens of documents to help make sure we can communicate with our Latinx friends and neighbors.
- Our TORCH and MTSS teams are preparing to spring into action, removing barriers and helping students sidestep hurdles. We insist on an equitable distance learning experience. Their relentless pursuit of equity is the benchmark for us all.
The final stage of a pandemic is demobilization. This crisis will end. And when it does, I want us to look one another in the eye knowing that our “better angels” won out; and we are proud of how we served our friends, neighbors, and those who needed us most. I am confident Northfielders will be able to do just that.