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I hope your summer has been a good one and that your families remain healthy and safe. I have been exploring Jamestown and getting to know all the amazing and positive attributes that make Jamestown so special. I am reminded every day how very fortunate I am to have the opportunity to be your JPS superintendent. Jamestown is such a wonderful community.
As you may know, since March, the JPS community has stood together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by observing social distancing and spending a lot of time at home. At the time of this writing, we are just a little over a month from the beginning of the new school year. As I have often heard in my travels around town, I know that you have many questions and concerns about how JPS will reopen our buildings safely in light of COVID-19. As I’m sure you can imagine, the traditional school year and past routines have changed. However, our commitment to keeping our students and staff safe has not. It remains our top priority, followed closely by our commitment to devise a plan that also provides equitable academic opportunities for all.
Without question, this has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone. We regularly receive guidance, and that guidance has come from multiple sources (NYS Department of Health, NYS Education Department, The Office of the Governor), which has made devising a plan a challenging process. Given this history, the plan that we present to you provides a general overview for how we will approach school being in session, given the information we have at this point in time. If and when conditions change, we will continue to post updates on the district website and send direct communications to keep everyone connected and informed. We are currently exploring two academic learning models (hybrid learning and remote learning) for the beginning of the school year, the implementation of which depend on a decision in early August from the Governor about the reopening of schools across the region and the state.
This plan is based on the intensive and remarkable work of our Reopening Committee composed of more than 51 staff, teachers, district partners, union representatives and the feedback from students, staff and parents. The committee has examined many possible scenarios for starting the new school year safely – operationally and academically – under the New York State and CDC COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations.
While we have drafted this plan and continue to refine the details, there continue to be changes in guidelines and requirements. While we continue our work, JPS needs your feedback. We understand that there are many situations and there are many different needs - whether that is related to childcare or medically vulnerable family members. To help us gather your feedback that will help to make our plan best suited to our community needs, JPS has created a survey at www.jpsny.org/reopeningsurvey. This survey will be open through Friday, August 7th for students, families and staff to contribute. Please take the time to complete this important survey in order to help us craft the best plan for our children. We are eager to review and use your feedback to make modifications to our reopening plan.
All of us at JPS appreciate the support from and cooperation of our community knowing that we are all working to do our best, given the directives and recommendations we are required to follow, to create a safe and equitable school environment for our students and staff.
Kevin Whitaker, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools