June 1, 2020

Letter To The Editor: Superintendent Rodney Kay addresses Brave Nation

Brave Nation,

I wanted to take just a moment to communicate with you about a couple very important topics.

But before I dive into those two things I just wanted to say, “THANK YOU.”

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your perseverance.

Thank you for your unending support of our school system and the respect you show to our teachers and staff on a daily basis.

I often try to avoid cliches as much as I can, but we are truly in unprecedented times right now.

The best thing that we can do during this time is to communicate, communicate, communicate!

We have learned over the past decade that we have a community ready to help as long as we keep them in the loop.

Every leader in our school system has been charged with that responsibility, and I have no doubt they will continue to excel in the area of communicating, even during these trying times.

First, we fully understand that e-learning, virtual learning, digital homeschooling, or whatever else you may be calling it, is not 100% fool proof, but through our monitoring devices, we have seen 70-75% of students being online at various times working on school.

We fully understand that everyone does not have internet access. We fully understand that you may have internet access today and your plan may run out tomorrow when you use up your data.

If you are in that boat, I would say to you that you also have the responsibility of reaching out and letting teachers and administrators know about your current situation so we can offer alternative ways of providing coursework for your child.

While I understand that things aren’t perfect, I also understand that our teachers and administrators have put in an incredible amount of time trying to craft these assignments, these video experiences, learning packets, and a multitude of other things to keep school running.

I encourage you to let this sink in for a moment. Our teachers were given 24 hours notice that Friday, March 13th would be their last day. They were also given that same notice to prepare two weeks of work for students.

They were also given notice that we were deploying over 600 chromebooks to students who had never taken them home before.

Parents of students in Grades 2 – 5 you are on a steep learning curve and we understand that. It is critical for you to communicate with your child’s teacher if there are problems. I have reminded our teachers of their virtual “office hours” of 9-12 and 1-2 Monday – Friday. They should be available during those times to interact with students and parents.

While there is a steep learning curve for some, I would also be remiss if I didn’t applaud the majority of our teachers and staff who have dedicated themselves to integrating technology in their classrooms over the past five years. I disagree with those who say “we weren’t prepared for this.”

As a school system, we have been preparing for integrating technology in the classroom since 2016. Putting a device in a child’s hands didn’t make us “ready.”

The hard work of our faculty/staff is what got us “ready,” and to them I will be forever grateful for their willingness to change and step out of their comfort zone! Well done my friends!

On the other hand I would like to continue to reach out to state and federal leaders and ask them to catch up with us! Rural Georgia is once again handicapped due to its lack of high speed internet access.

I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of making it happen, but I’ve heard enough talking about it. Somebody needs to step up, pick up the ball and run it across the goal line for the children of our small communities.

Secondly, can I please express how serious the current COVID-19 situation is?

The countless hours of Department of Health updates, CDC briefings, and many other things that I have had the opportunity to learn during this time has me very concerned for our community.

I live with two young adults who think they are bullet-proof, and it is very frustrating for me to try and communicate with them most of the time, but it is critical that the leaders of our communities, our businesses, and most importantly, the leaders of our homes express how important it is for us to practice what is being preached by medical experts in regards to this outbreak.

We need to keep our children home! It is useless for schools to be closed if we are going to allow students to gather at our homes.

Regarding our school facilities: This has been the case since March 13th, but I want to be clear — all of our school facilities are closed.

Teachers will be allowed to come to the schools in shifts to prepare next week’s assignments for students and while in the building they will continue to follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing.

While on the topic of our facilities, we would like to express our sincere thanks to Beck Custodial Services for their tremendous work during this shutdown. They have used the CDC guidelines for cleaning and they have conducted deep cleanings on each of our facilities.

A couple of other things you need to know about our school system during this time of crisis. (This was expressed by GAEL leader, Robert Costley)

  1.  We understand finger pointing is not leadership

  2.  We will look for helpers and not focus our time on the critics right now

  3.  We will put children before bureaucracy and politics

  4.  We will focus on what we can control

  5.  We will be here with open arms when they tell us we can open our doors again

Stay safe Brave Nation,

Rodney Kay 

Comments

  1. Thank you for being a leader of our school system and having hired good teachers for our children. I know this community comes together anytime there’s a problem with our children so thanks to you and your staff. Grade the school system I give you and the teachers the highest A there is. Again Thank You.

  2. Debra Seabury says

    How do I get in touch with Middle School? On March 13 I registered a 7th grade student and need work for her during this time.

  3. Lea Wingate says

    Thank you so much for your support. We teachers will definitely be there with open arms when we can return.

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