Dear members of the Springfield Public Schools community,
I am writing to you during what is surely one of the most challenging, collective experiences that any of us ever thought we would be facing. I will not rehash all the current information being transmitted in a myriad of ways. Rather, I would like to address something that I hope none of us lose sight of.
Our lives have been altered in so many ways. Students are learning while at home, in an environment not necessarily set up to be a daily schoolroom. Parents are being asked to monitor and facilitate the learning process, something they may have not been trained for. Oh, also, they must address the requirements of their “regular” job while doing so. Those with the job of parenting non-school aged children must find a way to do so, while assisting their school aged child get through the work they are now responsible for, not to mention the economic concerns lurking in the background. Teachers, they have to do those things and also prepare the material being disseminated through the new learning paradigm, while learning new ways to make it better. Remember the environment! With all that going on and children, pets, siblings, relatives, other working family members all requiring their “needs” be met, what suffers is the most important thing we must consider, the family relationships that must be maintained above everything else.
Please, do not let these conditions steal our empathy and understanding. Our children are feeling the tension and negativity that surrounds them daily. They feel your frustrations because those frustrations are real and influenced by much more than assuring your child finished that days assignments. Our children are afraid, even if they don’t verbalize it. Rather, when you feel your child losing focus or claiming difficulty where you know there is none, embrace the moment to embrace your child. This is more important and the perfect opportunity to strengthen and extend your connection with your child. Do not let the moment pass by allowing it to devolve into a conflict, but rather a moment to bond and support your child.
These days will eventually fade and we will be left with figuring out how to return to a new normal. Having them take a “feel good” break will not forever academically scar your child. Join them in it and recognize their resilience. Everyone is experiencing the same issues. No one is gaining an edge. But we can lose so much more if we don’t take care of what is really important first. Make the task as enjoyable as possible, be there for THEM, the learning that will be going on is much deeper and important.
OTHER IMPORTANT UPDATES
Spring break will be observed, as originally scheduled, beginning Monday, April 6th and continue through Friday, April 10th. In addition we will be using one of our unused snow days extending our break to Monday, April 13th, for students and staff. Our Online Learning Environment will resume on Tuesday, April 14th. Last evening the Board of Education voted to make the appropriate modifications to our current calendar to facilitate that change.
As you have been made aware, The New Jersey Department of Education has cancelled all statewide assessments for this year. This includes, the spring administration of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA), ACCESS Testing for ELL’s and the Dynamic Learning Maps Assessment (DLM).
Advanced Placement Tests
If your child is taking any Advanced Placement courses, you should have received a notification from Dr. Francis regarding the accommodations made for completing the end of program assessments. If you have not, please contact your child’s guidance counselor and visit our website for updated information.
Mental Health Support
These are stressful times and sometimes we need help to see a pathway through the morass in front of us. New Jersey Mental Health Cares provides a confidential telephone support line, from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M., at 1-866-HELP (4357).
Also, do not hesitate to reach out to our staff counselors, case managers or any other staff members you feel comfortable speaking with.
Please continue to visit our website for additional information or support, as well as the following: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New Jersey Department of Health and https://springfield-nj.us/departments/health/.
I sincerely wished that I could predict when this will end or what it will be like when it does. Just know that our kids are resilient and so are we. Know too that our teachers, counselors and support staff, supervisors, school aides, custodial staff, maintenance, food service staff, bus drivers and bus aides, before/after care staff, secretaries and administrators will continue to work daily to make this as stress free as we are able to do.
Please stay safe and follow the guidelines we’ve been provided to help us through this difficult time.
I wish everyone good health.
Michael A. Davino
Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools