Here We Go Dutchmen!

Six months is a long time, and looking back to March few of us may have anticipated a spring and summer quite like we experienced. Yet, here we are just a few days before welcoming students back into our buildings for another school year, and that excitement is always a highlight for me. During my administrative career I have had people ask me if I was looking forward to summer. My response has typically been the same: “It’s just a job when kids aren’t in the building.” And quite a job it has been as we prepared to bring back students in a manner which considered safety priorities along with learning needs while also working intentionally to be a unifying organization across our community.

Those who have been following us online know that in addition to significant investments in cleaning and safety, we have also placed considerable resources into the audio / video components for students who are more comfortable learning virtually at this point in the pandemic. We have also invested heavily in our new Canvas learning management system. In both of these areas we ask for your patience as we will have bumps in the road, yet know our technology investments will pay learning dividends far beyond the duration of the current health crisis. From the start that has been our goal… to not simply get through this, but to see if we can keep getting better.

A special thanks to our staff, many of whom spent a large portion of their summer break in our buildings preparing. Our procedures will look different, yet our mission remains the same as we work to ensure all students learn at high levels so they can be positive and productive contributors to society and our world. While way too much of my recent months have been focused on operations and procedures, welcoming staff back for inservice this week affirmed our learning focus. We are a learning organization, and that showed in spades as our teachers engaged in discussions around our essential learning standards, setting ambitious goals, and planning to continue the uncommon academic progress our students have demonstrated over the past decade.

I would like to direct our families to a few resources which may be helpful as you consider preparations should we have to adjust course due to quarantine requirements. We hope these resources aren’t necessary yet want to have them available so families can have their “plan B” in place should circumstances necessitate a pivot in our learning model.

Symptom Screening: By sending their children to school on-site parents are verifying that they have screened their student using the resources found on our website. (Scroll down on the opening page to find symptom details.)
Decision-making around sending your child to school: Our website also contains a decision tree which can assist families as they follow health department guidance related to on site school attendance.

There have been many times during my career where I “toughed it out” through sickness. This is not the year to do that. Our best chance at having on-site learning for extended periods, and ideally our entire school year, comes from three primary areas:

*Wash your hands
*Socially distance
*Wear an appropriate face covering AND
*Stay home when sick
You can find resources related to these areas by visiting our website at www.oostburg.k12.wi.us

I have a good friend who when asked how he is doing always replies simply, “Thankful.” I have borrowed that same approach, and saying thankful out loud reminds me of how much we can be thankful for in this school, in this community, in this state, nation and world. Kids remind me of that more than anything else, and that is why I am excited to see everyone again on our first day of school.

Kevin Bruggink, Superintendent