August 14 email from Principal Sepich – “SPSL Return to School Information as of 8/14/20”

August 14, 2020

Hello SPSL Families,

I hope all of you had a great week and that you are all staying healthy and safe. I am continuing to keep you all in my prayers and I am so appreciative of our community’s continued prayers and support for our faculty and staff during these anxious times.

Similar to last week, I am writing to update you on our most current plans for the start of the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Like last Friday, as it stands today, August 14th at the time of sending this email, we are still planning on starting school with all students attending classes in the school building on August 20th for Kindergarten – 8th grade and with Pre-Kindergarten on August 24th.

This decision continues to be guided by details highly specific to our school’s unique plan and advantages and with the guidance from local health officials and infectious disease experts that have guided and helped us throughout the summer. However, I want to highlight the key words “as it stands today” as we have worked with our teachers and staff all summer to be ready to teach in our “Green”, “Yellow” or “Red” status and will be prepared to do so and also make that decision quickly. Our goal is to have our students learning with their teachers, in person, safely with isolated classrooms and doing a very good job of “keeping the bubble” as our health experts have commended us on with our planning. We are continuing to monitor the health official recommended data and numbers specific to our determinations for whether we need to move to hybrid or remote settings. There is cautious optimism that those numbers and percentages will lower in the Omaha and Douglas County area with recent mask mandates and it is our hope that over the coming days and weeks, we see those downward trends. Currently, we are seeing the numbers hold steady but that could change in a good or bad direction. If those numbers trend in a bad direction or if other circumstances arise that warrant it, with the advice of the experts, we will be prepared to go to our planned “Yellow” or “Red” status if need be. Also, we have to be prepared as a school community that this could still happen before the planned start date for school or during the first week of school. I promise to keep you informed and please know that we are daily, if not hourly, monitoring the data specific to our school community as well as the details pertaining to other schools in the Omaha area who have opened up this past week.

I also want to share that in any situation, whether in-person, hybrid or remote, our amazing faculty and staff have been working on curriculum and instruction specifics in this unique year that will help our students learn in any setting. These plans will result in:

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for your support that we have received with the communication of our plans for reopening our schools while also acknowledging that I understand the anxiety and fears that some of our families have shared with me. I do not take offense to anyone in our community expressing their concern, as I too feel the anxiety and stress we all feel at this moment. If we are in person for learning, there is anxiety and fear of furthering transmission and there is a risk in any in person or hybrid scenario. If the numbers do not improve and trend in a negative direction, then we have to go hybrid or remote and then there are fears of the negative effects of not being in school will have on our students, parents and teachers social-emotional well being. Unfortunately, there is not a scenario until this pandemic is over or at the very least, better under control, that will not have risk and fear. That being said, I have reflected the past month on a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh which says “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” I am trying to learn to acknowledge my own fears each day so it keeps me grounded in my decision making, with the guidance of our experts, so we can make the best decision that continues to make sure that we care as safe as possible and I am confident in the plan and procedures we have in place to return to school in person. I am also confident in the process we have in place to make a decision, if need be, to go hybrid or remote and I am prepared to make that decision quickly through the guidance and consistent monitoring of the data specific to our school community.

Thank you so much for your support and thank you for keeping us all here at SPSL in your prayers.

Peace and blessings,

Cory Sepich, Principal