Challenging times but light ahead

Well, we made it through April and May with mixed results regarding our conversion to remote learning. Despite gargantuan efforts by teachers and administrators to connect with each student, we averaged around 70 percent engagement through fourth quarter. Some of that was due to the manner in which courses were graded, lack of internet access for students, and families that were dealing with much more critical challenges than school.

Transitioning to remote learning challenged every school in the country. I am proud of our staff and parents who helped make this work during a time when there was very little time to plan. Summer school will be our first attempt at synchronous learning, as we believe this will become more necessary if future pandemics emerge.

As we prepare for the arrival of students and staff in a couple months, we are working with the Health Department to ensure that school is as safe as possible. Based on current health directives, this will undoubtedly require that we physically distance, wear masks and limit activities that could spread COVID-19. I am confident we will come up with a plan that will work for the vast majority of families, knowing that remote learning will also be an option.

I’ll close with the sadness in my heart regarding the recent death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. The subsequent reactions and demonstrations by the Lincoln community and many across the country reminds us that racism continues to impact the lives of our students, families, friends and colleagues. In conversations and listening to the stories of how most of our African-American leaders and staff have experienced discrimination and overt racism reminds me that we (LPS, Lincoln, Nebraska and the United States) have a long way to go to create a society where we are all equal and respected. I am proud of our students who peacefully protested. We will continue to support these young, future leaders as they lead the call for change. This is a priority for LPS.

Four hundred years is way too long to wait for change to occur. These recent tragedies have to provoke all of us to reach out and be part of the solution.