Colonial’s teachers and support staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty during this global pandemic for one common cause, our 10,000 students. I am deeply proud of the teachers who swiftly moved to remote learning despite the apprehensions that come with anything new, untested, and far from the norm. They miss the day-to-day interactions with their students as much as the students miss them, and yet they continue to do everything possible to keep students academically, socially, and emotionally engaged.
All staff in the district have had to pivot and adapt to the times we are in. Our custodial and maintenance workers have re-looked at their assignments and made sure they maintained our buildings and grounds to our high standards. It has been heartwarming to see how our nutrition and transportation service workers rose to the call of seeing that the district’s federally subsidized meals are prepared and distributed with a dedication that goes beyond their paycheck. I deeply admire the dedication of William Penn administrators who agonized over ways to celebrate the class of 2020 and found the next best solutions to a traditional graduation.
That’s the good news, but as your superintendent, I am duty-bound to brace you for what’s to come in these uncharted waters. Rest assured, my administrative team is spending countless hours trying to prepare, but let’s be honest, when it comes to this global pandemic we are all dealing with unknown obstacles and challenges.
Here’s what we do know. Schools will not be the same any time soon. Preparing our buildings to reopen will require a tremendous amount of preparation to follow all measures to keep students and staff safe. At this point we have more questions than answers:
- Will health officials advise students and staff to wear face masks?
- Will students be allowed to resume playing contact sports?
- How will schools manage social distancing?
- How will teachers and students who are used to giving and receiving friendly hugs from youngsters be able to interact in equally meaningful ways?
- How will preschool teachers make that first magical impression on our Little Colonials without human touch?
These are just a few of the questions we have no firm answers to at this time, but that’s just the beginning.
We realize that some students will come back to us on solid ground, while others will not. Let’s face it, through no fault of their own while some children had the ability and family support to learn remotely at home, others did not. For us, those charged with educating students, that means meeting each student where they are, understanding each student’s weaknesses and challenges. We will make certain our teachers, counselors, and support staff have all the tools they need to turn problems into solutions that support all of our students.
I promise you that the Colonial School District is committed to facing the “new normal” all schools now face. I know our teachers will continue to follow their passions of transforming the minds of their students, something they do out of love for their work while realizing many other professions are far more lucrative.
We are striving to keep you informed, however, at this time we are seeking parents’ feedback regarding their feelings and thoughts about returning to school in the fall. We want feedback from all parents, especially those of students with unique needs. Please take a few moments to complete this short survey ( English Version , Spanish Version ). We will include you and other stakeholders in the process of revamping our post-pandemic schools when that time arrives. And when that time comes, the engine that will drive us will be the mantra that has galvanized the Colonial School District over the last five years – The Power of WE.
Jeffrey D. Menzer, Ed.D.
Colonial School District Superintendent