Message from the Superintendent 6/1/20

Message from the Superintendent 6/1/2020
Posted on 06/01/2020
Staff Hope

June 1st, 2020

Dear Pioneer School District Family: 

It has been amazing that just yesterday, it was May 1st and we were all knee-deep in providing on-line learning, trying to keep our kids engaged, and wondering how this will all end and when do we get to “normal.”  Well, it feels like May 1st was yesterday, or there about, as this past month has flown by – at least for me anyway.  Right now, as a district, we are trying to figure out how to wrap up our school year – How do we say good-bye to our students without the physical interactions?  How do we process all our technology that was handed out to families and what do we do about summer learning?  How do we honor our 8th graders while being respectful of social distancing expectations?  How do we continue to develop our professional skills in a current technological environment?  What is the impact of decreased state taxes for our school budget and how do we plan the future coupled with fiscal responsibility? Each of these questions, and more, are topics we deal with on a weekly basis.

One area which we must address is; how do we close this school year while planning for opening schools in September?  What does that look like and have we thought of all the impacting variables?  These questions are perplexing in that we don’t know what three months down the road will look like nor what the impact of COVID19 will have on our community.  We, like many school districts, are in the initial planning phase for addressing this question.  Here in Pioneer, with the guidance of our local ESD113 and OSPI, we are developing our plans for next year.  This process will take some time as we make decisions based on best current knowledge and thinking.  We have designated different areas where we are putting considerable attention.  These areas include Communications, Trauma Informed Practices, Business and Operation, Continuous Learning, Health and Wellness, and Professional Development.  With each of these categories, we will entrust a steering committee to develop a system based on best practices and knowledge which will direct our services and efforts in these areas.  This work will go into the summer and our hope is that by the end of July, we will have solid plans for opening (re-opening) school.  For each category, we will be developing different scenarios for restarting school.  These scenarios include starting school in person (best case scenario), a hybrid model (having smaller groups of students attend on alternating days or times), and starting school using a distance learning model (our current practice).  Each of these scenarios impact all our systems differently, so we need to plan for all three.

For our planning, we would like to hear from you, and if possible, have some of you participate on a steering committee.  We will be sending out a survey to start gathering information which will help drive our conversations and planning.  Please take the time to fill it out and offer your insights.  If you are interested in participating in some of the committee work, there will be some information coming out on how to get involved.  Please check our website for more information.

During these challenging times, I often remind myself of something my nana used to tell me when I was a boy.  She would say, “Appreciate the light because it shows your path, but also embrace the darkness because it shows the stars.”  No one knows where or how this is going to end, but I do know we are all in this together, and together, we will figure out the best path for educating our youth.  Keep the faith, keep giving grace, keep offering kindness; we got this.

As always, my best to you.

John Gummel, Superintendent

Pioneer School District