Dr. Anna Alvarado, Superintendent of Schools at Freeport School District, recorded a nearly 6-minute opening message to the students, parents, and staff of the district.
Dr. Alvarado’s video message was posted on Saturday, August 22nd, to the Youtube channel of the Pretzel Pride Network, a channel run by longtime Freeport High School teacher Tim Connors and students at FHS.
The superintendent summarized several safety protocols the district is implementing in preparation for the return to school. She also urged families and staff to have a sense of urgency, saying “Let ‘Pretzel Pride’ not just be a nice slogan, but evident throughout our schools and community.”
The following is a transcription of Dr. Alvarado’s opening message. Any transcription errors are our own.
“Hello Freeport School District family. Five months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic began, making an impact in how we live our lives. It challenged what we do, and how we do things that were second nature to us.
One thing I’ve learned in this leadership role is when organizations do through challenges, it reveals character and pushes us to think differently about how we problem-solve and achieve results. In addition, the challenges we face reveal much about the capacity of individuals who make up an organization to begin to see themselves as an important part of a collective group with a shared purpose and common goals. It forced us to recognize and build on both our strengths and emphasize opportunities for growth.
Our summer was spent preparing to reopen our schools under our new normal. Working groups were formed which collectively included over 100 staff members. Each group consisted of designated leaders and a team of subject-matter experts that offered input and perspective that drove their work.
Twice weekly, all of the work groups met together, with a collective will and purpose, to develop and publish our Surviving to Thriving guidance document for the community that the school board voted on July 21st.
Our first priority remains the health and safety of students and staff. As the summer quickly comes to an end, we have established the following protocols for returning to school.
Daily, we are asking parents to self-certify that their students are not exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms. We are also asking that all staff self-certify.
We are doing routine temperature checks for both children and adults who enter the buildings. For bus riders, this will happen before they board the bus. And for students who walk or are dropped off or drive, as they enter the building.
Face coverings or masks will be required of everyone. For students who are not able to wear face masks due to certain disabilities that have been documented, and need accommodations, we will provide additional PPE for adults who supervise them.
Signage promoting social distancing and handwashing will be posted in every building, as well as floor signage spaced 6 feet apart to provide students a visual of social distancing. We have also increased our bus routes in order to observe social distancing.
Breakfast and lunch for our younger students will be served in their classrooms. At the upper grade level, meals will be served in several designated areas to maintain social distancing.
Food distribution sites will take place on Saturdays for AB and remote learning-by-choice students.
And while waiting for the installation of additional water bottle filling stations in schools, we are providing every student a reusable water bottle.
Our next priority is continuity of learning. Despite the challenges we face, we are committed to offering our students new learning for a full school year. Parents were introduced to three models of instructional delivery, and that is in-person, blended, and full remote learning-by-choice.
Professional learning opportunities are being provided for our teaching staff on the use of web-based resources and planning for instruction. All students in grades K-12 are being issued one-to-one Chromebooks, and we have also partnered with Comcast to be able to provide internet access to families who need financial assistance so students do not miss out on learning.
Our new mission statement, part three of our three-year vision plan, calls for us to be innovative, inclusive, and provide for each child in our district: a student centered learning environment.
The result of the work that has been done by individuals and groups of individuals is a plan that is responsive to the needs of all students. It is a testimony to our commitment for us to be all in for all kids.
Now the real work begins for more than 700 employees of our district as we work to make a sustained impact on the education of our students. We may be meeting our students face-to-face, screen-to-screen, or both, but we stand ready to thrive.
On behalf of the Freeport School District Board of Education, I would like to wish everyone who is part of our dynamic school district a wonderful school year. Each of us has a role to play in the future of Freeport. Whichever school, department, or family we belong to, we need each other in moving FSD from good to great. This is what we are all capable of achieving on behalf of our students; there is no time for us to waste.
Whether you are a student, teacher, custodial worker, administrator, school and district support staff, or parent, show up with a sense of urgency each day. Let this school year be Freeport’s best ever yet. Let “Pretzel Pride” not just be a nice slogan, but evident throughout our schools and community. Thank you for all you do, and once again let’s all have a great 2020 school year.
– Dr. Anna Alvarado, Superintendent of Schools at FSD145