BOE President Message

Message from the BOE President
Posted on 09/01/2020
September 1, 2020
Dear Parents, Students, Teachers, Staff, and Members of the Seaman Community:
First, let me say, welcome back to school; a year like no other! As we began our 101st year, the Board of Education toured each building and were impressed with the safety measures that have been put in place to ensure that we were ready to start the 2020 version of school. 

Over the summer, the Ready to Reopen (R2R) Task Force spent weeks developing a strategic and intentional plan for reopening our school buildings. The decision to open in a hybrid model of student engagement did not come lightly, and we realize this plan comes with challenges for everyone. The task of coming up with a plan that would accommodate 4,000 students and over 800 employees was nearly insurmountable, but the task force (which included: students, parents, teachers, administrators, and board members) worked very hard to try and account for a wide variety of scenarios. Undoubtedly, it was impossible to come up with the perfect plan for everyone and we did the absolute best we could to create a playbook for this situation when none existed before. 

These past few months have been filled with so much uncertainty and anxiousness and now that we are opening our schools buildings back up, we appreciate your patience as things take shape and we work out the kinks in the plan. We will keep you apprised of any changes to the plan should things worsen or hopefully improve. I know this is a confusing and frustrating time for everyone and I fully recognize we are throwing a lot at you to keep up with, but you are not alone, you are not singled out, we are ALL going through this together. Until we can start fully on-site, and I’m hopeful that day is coming very soon, we must keep up with the adjustments to our daily lives for a while longer. We are all exhausted dealing with the challenges and inconveniences being forced upon us and I’m hopeful that we are at a turning point. I’m optimistic we can all do our part to continue good social behavior practices so we can put this strange time behind us and get back to normal very soon. Due to the unique challenges facing all of our community I want to take a moment to address each group that is perhaps dealing with the pandemic in a different way.
To our students…
We have built a classroom model unlike anything a K-12 institution has ever experienced, and we know you will rise to the challenge to do your part during this incredible time. Some of you will thrive in this format and some of you will struggle. Ask for help; you are not alone. Please let your parents or teacher know immediately so we can ensure that you are keeping up and staying connected. For those of you who remember what school looked like in March of 2020, we all reacted and did the best we could. School for you this year should look much different and be filled with much more demonstrated effort and accountability. We know this format isn’t ideal, but I assure you that we will do everything we can to get you back into full on-site as quickly as we can and limit any further impact on you than absolutely necessary. We have some creative people in this district doing everything they can to ensure your experience is as close to the real thing as possible.  
To our Teachers and Staff…
Please know that we fully recognize the incredible new situation you are in. Working partially online with minimal preparation or professional development was very likely not something in which you were trained. We hope by moving the professional development days to the front of the calendar helped somewhat but also understand that in some ways it wasn’t enough. We appreciate the steps you took to adjust your routines and prepare to accommodate the variety of learning formats we are offering this semester. Learning should be augmented with technology, not relied upon as a substitute. The challenges you are overcoming to ensure students receive the education they need is admirable. We know you are being asked to do more than you ever have before and as I shared with you during our back-to-school convocation, nearly every teacher that reached out to me personally to share their apprehension to returning to school made certain that I was aware “not to worry, I’m a teacher, I’ll get the job done.” Our ability to come together in difficult times never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for being flexible and patient as we figure out how to make this work as safely as we can for you.
To our Parents and Caregivers…
What an incredible time to be raising school aged children. None of us anticipated something like this and the Board of Education hears your concerns and knows that you have numerous questions. Our plan tried to account for nearly every scenario but there are likely topics that we couldn’t possibly fully consider, and you are the people we need to hear from most. If you need help, if you don’t understand something, please reach out to your building principals – they are there to help you make this transition to a hybrid learning model as painless as possible. I know the challenges of working full time in a normal year, let alone a year in which your children are still at home for a good portion of the week. You are no longer only a mom or dad, but now we are asking you to wear even more hats: teacher, librarian, custodian, food service, nurse, IT dept., coach, etc. We understand this is incredibly challenging and have worked with area groups to help provide childcare for those who wish to pursue that option. Again, I can’t underscore this enough, we hear you and know this isn’t ideal. Nobody asked for this situation we are in and trust me, we are trying to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Whether you are sending your children to our schools in the hybrid format or having them attend remote only classes, the decision to do so likely weighed on you heavily. You have equally made the right choice and done what is best for your family and I commend you for navigating these waters with us with grace and compassion for a school system that didn’t exist just a few months ago.
My hope is that you all will continue to see this as a temporary condition and help to reinforce the guidelines so we can put this behind us very soon. I know that some of you are wondering, “what’s next?” and “how do we know when we’re done?” We’re working every week to determine exactly what those metrics look like. Seaman Schools will follow the guidance of the Shawnee County Health Department as well as monitor daily attendance rates and any increase in COVID cases in our school district to make an informed decision and necessary changes to our plan to ensure the safety of our students and staff. The Board of Education understands the anxiousness and uncertainty that is upon us. My hope is that we can collectively demonstrate social discipline to the degree that this is all behind us very soon and we can get back to normal and to the environment that makes Seaman Schools the best district in the state. We’ve missed you all and are happy to see you again.
Be well and stay safe.


James Adams
James Adams
USD 345 Board President