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Weekly Superintendent's Message June 4th

Superintendent's Message

Hello, Wicomico Schools families and staff. This is Donna Hanlin, Superintendent of Schools.   

During the COVID-19 pandemic, over the past months, my weekly messages have remained positive, indicating that united we will come out stronger on the other side of these unprecedented times.  I continue to believe that.  However, in the midst of this crisis, another has arisen in our country that has the potential to cause fear and trauma in all of us, and it too must be faced with the same unified approach.   

I feel compelled to address the recent events taking place across our country surrounding the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests that your children may be witnessing on TV, online and in our community.  While there have been others, these most recent events expose the injustices that are present in our society.   All of us experience these events in different ways, including our students.   

Please talk to your children about what they are witnessing. If your children are too young to discuss violence and hatred, maybe start with a conversation about treating others with kindness and acceptance.  Please know that we have staff available to help students process what has been happening. If you believe your child needs a counselor to talk with, please call your school to make an appointment. We want to make sure that students are supported in the trauma or fears they may be feeling as a result of what they are seeing and hearing about.  
 
I want to make it clear that Wicomico County Public Schools does not and will not tolerate acts of racism.   As Superintendent, I realize that public education plays an important part in promoting equity, dignity, and respect. WCPS works to create a safe environment for all students and staff.  While racism isn’t a problem for just one school system, government, or community group to solve, I recognize that we can’t stand idly by.  The responsibility to end racism belongs to each of us, including our school system.  The youngest of our children see only love and respect.  Hatred is learned.  Help us by teaching and modeling love and respect as we work together to help our children grow up to be better citizens. Through a unified effort and our focus on equity and support for the individual needs of our students, we can come out stronger as a system and as a community. 

Understanding that the safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority, I want to encourage everyone to continue to practice all CDC safety precautions. The Governor announced on Wednesday that Maryland is moving into Stage 2 of Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery and he cautioned that this step in no way implies that we are out of the woods.  He emphasized that limiting groups to 10 or less while practicing other safety measures remains the safe thing to do.  He also encouraged continued teleworking where possible.  As a school system, we will remain vigilant as we begin to consider bringing some employees back to the workplace on a very limited basis where necessary, being careful and cautious as we travel the road to recovery together.   

With that in mind, summer school this year will for the most part continue through remote learning.  In an earlier message, I conveyed information about our online Elementary Summer Fun enrichment and intervention activities that are available to all students K-8 through our website at WWW.WCBOE.ORG.  We will also be offering virtual summer school for middle and high school students in need of earning credits and sharpening skills.  High school students can earn credit for classes previously failed and also for original credit.  Middle school students can keep their skills sharp with a personalized learning experience in both math and reading.  The middle school program is free for all students.  Registration and information for all students can be found on the Secondary Summer School website which will go live in the coming weeks – stay tuned for specific information from your school.  I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of the opportunities that are available this summer. 

As I previously mentioned, specific planning for the fall began this week with a focus in three areas including operations and safety, student health and well-being, and curriculum and instruction.  Over the course of the next few weeks, groups with stakeholder representation will engage with the framework outlined in the MSDE Maryland Together guidance with the goal of soliciting feedback from the larger school community in late June with final decisions coming in mid-July.  While we all hope that we will be able to return fully to our buildings, we must be prepared to continue with remote learning and a combination of both remote and face-to-face.   

To end this week’s message, may I say how proud I am of the Class of 2020! This past weekend was full of excitement for our Seniors, as they moved their tassels from right to left, signifying the transition to high school graduate during our virtual commencement ceremonies.  These virtual commencement ceremonies for Evening High School, James M. Bennett, Mardela, Parkside and Wicomico High School were aired on PAC 14 and are now forever available to watch on the Wicomico Public Schools YouTube Channel and Facebook page.  The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. We are so pleased that this very personal experience was so well received by our students and families during these unprecedented times.    

Finally, a reminder that we are continuing with final round of learning materials and that students’ last day of instruction will be Friday, June 12th with the last day for teachers Tuesday, June 16th.   Please stay safe and let us know how we can support you.