Welcome Back Update

Welcome Back Update
Posted on 08/18/2021
Better Together

2021 Welcome Back Update.pdf


WELCOME BACK UPDATE

FROM SUPERINTENDENT HANKINS

Dear parents, students, and the entire LKSD learning community,

Welcome back! All of us are excited to welcome you and your children back to school.

This email contains important information, updates, and announcements on our return to school policies and procedures, fall sports, and our upcoming board meeting on Thursday night.

Preparation and Planning for In-Person Classes

Everyone at our school sites and in our District office has been working tirelessly over the past two weeks (and throughout the summer) to ensure that our approach supports our collective aim of having our students on campus and in classrooms as safely as possible. All of our faculty and staff have been trained thoroughly on the Safe Return to Learn and COVID-19 Protocols. As you know, the conditions in each of our 29 schools are unique, and we have been working closely with leadership of each school to adapt their approach to reflect their own community’s health and any specific circumstances that might present.

We understand the concerns of returning to school, particularly in the midst of the new Delta variant, and we will continue to monitor the evolving health conditions in our communities and work closely with our healthcare partners, tribal authorities and local communities. We have extensive safety protocols in place, but we also know from the last year that there will likely be hiccups along the way as we navigate the start to this new school year.

The continued uncertainty of this situation makes it impossible to predict what this year might look like, but we know, particularly given our experiences from last year, that our District is prepared to handle a variety of scenarios. This includes the very real possibility that a student, a class, or a school may need to move to remote learning for some period of time to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and the community as a whole.

Our continued collaboration – among schools, students, and communities – is critical for our schools to reopen and remain open. Additional information on all the safety measures in place to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff and families including our Safe Return to Learn and COVID-19 protocols may be found on our website.

We appreciate your continued flexibility and cooperation in helping to:

Prepare children for in-person classes: Please help our students adjust quickly to new safety protocols by encouraging and practicing with them at home, especially around proper masking, appropriate physical distancing, and regular washing and sanitizing of hands. Your family may wish to review this Checklist: Planning for In-Person Classes (along with information on proper masking based on guidance from the CDC) contained in our Smart Start & COVID-19 Protocols Guide. This information is intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers plan and prepare for in-person classes. We are committed to protecting the health of our children, staff, and families by taking the everyday preventative measures listed above, however, it is also important for families to monitor their own health for any symptoms. Symptom free schools are vital to keeping our schools open. Parents are the first line of defense for helping to monitor students daily for COVID- 19 related symptoms. Students and staff who are sick or feeling sick should not attend school in-person.It is important to remember that, even if your child resumes in-person learning at school, you should prepare for the possibility of remote learning if school closes or if your child becomes exposed to COVID-19 and needs to stay home.

Encourage and support social and emotional learning: Social and emotional learning is critical for re- engaging students and supporting our teachers and staff. We must continue to work together to help reduce, manage, and cope with fears, anxieties and worries that could be provoked from this public health crisis and the transition back to school, while at the same time make sure we are supporting the development of the skills necessary for managing and coping with future life challenges. LKSD employs both social workers and counselors, each of whom are valuable resources to our schools, students, and communities. Lead Social Worker Meghan Crow recommends the following tips and resources to help ease student anxieties with the return to school including “Back to School Anxiety During COVID” from the Child Mind Institute and additional resources on our website.

Mitigate virus transmission: Please continue to follow public health guidance to protect yourself and others. This includes wearing a mask in indoor public settings and outdoor settings where three feet of physical distancing is not possible, washing your hands with soap often, limiting your interactions with people outside your immediate household, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and monitoring daily for potential symptoms. You might also consider taking steps to improve ventilation in your home to the extent you are able, as improved air flow can help prevent virus particles from accumulating in the air. The CDC formally recommended this in their guidance last month and provided the following suggestions.

Get yourself and others vaccinated: Vaccination is one of the most powerful tools for preventing COVID-19 infections and protecting the community from serious health concerns. It has been integral to bringing our case levels down and protecting against severe effects from the Delta variant. If you or a loved one is eligible and has not been vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to call YKHC at (907) 543-6949.

Fall Sports

We are excited to announce that sports have resumed! Cross country running started throughout the District last week, and I know students are excited to be outside and participate. In Bethel, swimming and volleyball have resumed, in addition to cross country.

Upcoming Board Meeting

Please join us at the 2nd Board Meeting of the new school year on Thursday, August 19th beginning at 4pm, where we will be discussing:

ANSEP’s Acceleration Academy We are excited about ANSEP’s Acceleration Academy, which allows students to go from 8th grade to a Bachelor’s degree in just five years! This is a wonderful opportunity for students and families to explore various career interests, save time and costs, while at the same time increasing economic opportunities.

Best Practices Safety Audit – Per our March 2021 meeting, our independent, outside auditor Dr. Janet Barry will be providing another update in regard to the progress and the work that LKSD has undertaken over the last year and throughout the summer. Thanks to Dr. Barry’s recommendations, we have updated our policies, trainings, and practices so that our schools are more proactive in preventing abuse. Our work in these focus areas will continue throughout the 2021 – 2022 school year as we build upon our existing foundation and integrate our new Board Policy into LKSD’s ongoing protections for students. We are confident that the measures we are taking will help us consistently strengthen and improve upon our most important goal: to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, and our community as a whole. You can learn more about the additional resources we offer for identifying and preventing sexual misconduct and abuse in the Parent Resources section of our web site.

Thank you again for all your support this summer and during these first few weeks of school. Our success, now and in the future, is due in large part to your efforts to keep our students, faculty, and staff as safe and healthy as possible.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Hankins

Superintendent

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