What will the educational format for the Howard-Suamico School District look like for the upcoming school year? A cross section of administrators, teachers, resources personnel, nurses, and nutritionists have been meeting in June and July with the sole purpose of championing the development of a school reopening plan that responds to community health requirements and reflects best educational practices to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of each of our students.

The Instructional Core/Social and Emotional Learning action team is focused on the instructional format for grades K-4, 5-6, and 7-12 to determine the most practical, feasible, and appropriate strategies for each developmental stage. With schools providing the foundation for child and adolescent development, social and emotional skills will be just as important as the academic instruction. The individual needs and concerns of school professionals are also being addressed.

Depending on the level of transmission within the community, school policies must be flexible, adaptive, thoughtful, inclusive, and creative in their methods of instruction.

The Operations/Resources action team has targeted bus transportation, nutrition, building safety and security, disinfecting, and the overall space/facility usage within the district. One key concern is the level of “physical distancing” within each building to accommodate the student and still maintain the safety of students and staff. Classrooms and other instructional spaces, the serving of breakfast and lunch, and seating on buses will be modified for student safety. Besides the daily cleaning and disinfecting, teachers will emphasize personal hygiene methods to mitigate viral transmission.

The Communication action team will share the information of our Task Force teams with students, families, and the community. The first draft of our school plan was released to the community on July 2nd through our district website, www.hssdschools.org/community/Covid19. This draft will undoubtedly change as we continue to get input from health officials at all levels and from members of the community who provided feedback by participating in “Thoughtexchange”, a tool used to gather input, located on the HSSD website. Along with the work of the action teams, your concerns will contribute to this decision-making process as the Task Force adapts and adjusts with new information.

The HSSD Task Force is developing policies to meet the educational, social, and emotional needs of both students and staff in a rapidly changing pandemic environment. Resources from the professional health agencies and the DPI provide guidelines to meet the needs of all students as we move forward safely.

For more information about the Howard-Suamico School District, please visit our website at www.hssdschools.org or for more additional information regarding this article, contact school board member Garry H. Sievert at garrsiev@hssdschools.org.