September 14, 2020
Dear Kyrene Families, Educators and Staff,
While I welcomed you all back to school in August, this week feels like another welcome message, as we prepare for our in-person learners to return to school campuses. This week, Kyrene will begin offering the full range of educational models we spent months developing, in order to provide a broad variety of safe options for students and staff, from Flex Distance Learning to In Person Learning with mitigation strategies in place.
A New Normal
As part of Kyrene’s rolling return to in-person instruction, schools will first welcome back students in kindergarten through 2nd grade, beginning this Thursday. Students in 3rd–5th grade will follow next week, and our middle school students will return in October. Online instruction will continue for students whose families have selected Flex Distance Learning.
We are very excited to have children back on our campuses, but I want to stress to families that student compliance with our mitigation efforts is key to keeping our schools open. We must make every effort to prevent the spread of illness on our campuses, and that is only possible when all students and staff adhere to the safety measures as detailed in our Kyrene Mitigation Plan.
Families play an important role in Kyrene’s mitigation efforts, as home screenings are required before sending children to school. Use our handy home screening checklist, and keep children home if they have any of the symptoms listed. Schools will be required to send children home if they experience COVID-like symptoms while on campus.
In order to comply with these mitigation strategies, school will look different this year. I encourage parents to watch the September 8 Governing Board meeting, in which several of our school principals outlined a “day in the life” of a student under our current circumstances. The presentation included information about classroom layouts, campus logistics, meals, masks and more.
Expanded Opportunities Before/After School
With the return to in-person instruction, Kyrene’s Community Education team will be expanding before and after school offerings to open more programs on more campuses. Both Kids Club and After Hours programming will be available at home campuses, beginning Thursday. Registration is now open, and this is your chance to enroll your child in programs that typically draw wait lists, due to high demand.
I want to take the opportunity to thank our Community Education staff who have supported—and continue to support—our school campuses with the delivery of on-site services for students and the distribution of laptops to thousands of families. Any time there has been a need, the Community Ed team has answered the call, and I am so grateful to all of you for your flexibility and your commitment.
Students returning to school for in-person instruction may notice some improvements to their school campuses! Work has been underway since spring to make our schools both more beautiful and more efficient. Some of the most notable updates include new HVAC systems at Centennial Middle School and Cielo Elementary; renovated courtyards at both Altadeña and Kyrene Middle Schools; and a brand new media center and expanded front office at Kyrene Traditional Academy.
The improvements to our schools continue even now. HEPA filtration units have just been delivered to schools across Kyrene and are currently being installed in every classroom. The HEPA filters will add an extra layer of safety to our classrooms by keeping the air clear of particles that can cause illness.
For more campus renovations, and to see how the Kyrene community makes these improvements possible, watch my September video message.
Kyrene A+ Schools
As you may know, each year, the Arizona Educational Foundation awards exceptional schools with the coveted A+ School of Excellence Award. The process for identifying 2020 A+ schools was interrupted last spring, due to the global pandemic, but has now resumed. We wish each of our Kyrene A+ applicants good luck in this process.
Kyrene is home to 15 A+ Schools of Excellence, but after watching our educators and school leaders navigate the unprecedented circumstances of the last six months with grit and grace, I can say with confidence that all 26 Kyrene schools get an A+ from me.
I want to close with hope for a successful return to in-person learning, a smooth September for our distance learners, and good health for all of our Kyrene students, staff, families and community.
Jan Vesely, Ed.D.