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  • Writer's pictureMr. Masterson

SY21-22 Start of School Letter from Sonhando - 8/30 Town Hall Follow Up

Dear TSMS Families,

As we approach the start of the 2021/2022 school year I know that many of you are concerned about the health and safety of your children. Your child’s health and safety is our top priority. This year that means that masking, distancing, ventilation, air purifiers, and bi-weekly testing will be the cornerstone of health and safety protocols. All of these safety steps will be enforced and reinforced on a daily basis. I understand that the emergence of the Delta variant has once again created uncertainty for everyone, but I would like to say that I remain cautiously hopeful for this year. Masking, ventilation, and air purifiers work. Of all our positive cases last year (there were not many), there was not one instance of student-to-student infection. Overall, schools have been able to be safer than their surrounding communities, with much lower rates of infection.

As I have mentioned in a number of the “Town Hall” meetings this summer, a primary focus has been on the times and places where students will need to take off their mask to eat. I am currently finalizing plans for ALL students to eat outside every day for breakfast and lunch. When students can’t go outside due to inclement weather we will be spreading students across numerous rooms (auditorium, dance room, etc.) in order to ensure enough distance between students. We have decided to let our 7th and 8th grade students out for lunch everyday and will be offering to-go lunches for students who do not bring their own. Students will still be permitted to eat in the cafeteria if they wish. As I also mentioned at the last Town Hall meeting, classes in all grades will now be traveling as cohorts all day in order to limit exposure.

Contrary to what I said at the Town Hall on Monday, we have decided not to use lockers at the start of the year so we can keep hallways moving. We will reassess safety and lockers as the school year progresses. I would also ask that families send their children to school with their own devices if possible.

Today the DOE released a plan for “office hours” for students that need to quarantine. I will be working with teachers to understand how we can incorporate Google Classroom, which we are already planning on using this year, to help make this process a little more seamless. We have also updated the TSMS Community Handbook to incorporate the most recent DOE guidance. This year school will begin at 8:35 AM and end at 2:55 PM everyday.

The DOE is requiring families to complete the online “health screener” everyday. Families must complete the screener online every morning before sending their child to school. Here is the link to complete the screener.

As you try to prepare yourself and your children for their return to school, I would encourage you to talk to your children about the importance of always wearing a mask (correctly). If they have not had an opportunity to wear their mask for longer than three hours they should practice within the next few days. Teachers will be enforcing three-foot distancing when and wherever possible. Please continue to have conversations with your child about what that will look and feel like on a daily basis.

No one has been untouched by this pandemic. The loss and trauma is truly immeasurable, but throughout last school year and this summer I have seen an unbelievable resilience in students. Being able to see and connect with their peers is essential. As you have conversations with your children, I would encourage you to keep the phrase “cautiously hopeful” at the center of that conversation. Together we can get through this safely, but none of this works without a little bit of hope.

Take care and see you soon.

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