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Superintendent's Update (3.20.20)

Update from Superintendent Todd Washburn

March 20, 2020

Dear DSISD Families,

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about shifts to our family, school and work lives that continue to impact our community. DSISD has been working around the clock to develop ways that we can continue to support our community of children and families. With this in mind, we know it is equally important to support not only our student’s academic success, but also their social and emotional needs.

A critical social and emotional skill that is important for us to highlight right now is that of resiliency. Resiliency is the capacity to face, overcome, and ultimately be strengthened by life’s adversities and challenges. We have an opportunity to model resiliency in the face of adversity. Our kids are watching us and learning how to respond to stress and uncertainty. We can focus our attention on things we can control to do our part such as; practicing self-care (eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, practicing social distancing and enjoying the outdoors), and practicing a growth mindset (keeping things in perspective, and maintaining a positive outlook). Developing the skills of resiliency, self-care, and approaching challenges with a growth mindset will equip our children for lifelong success.

As this health situation continues to progress, it is natural that children’s stress, anxiety and emotions will increase as well. There are several things we can do to help children navigate through this situation. First and foremost, we need to reassure our children that it is going to be okay by continuing to comfort and love them as you have been. 

healthy mind platter

Secondly, it is important to provide some structure for your children during this closure period of time. Experts remind us that schedules are important even during breaks, so maintaining consistency with waking, sleeping, and mealtimes are important to keeping our children feeling safe and secure. Schedules provide children with a sense of control and predictability in their environment. Next week we will be providing you with some additional guidance as it relates to school.

Lastly, it is important to talk about the coronavirus with your children. As a parent you know what level of information would benefit your children. We need to remember kids can be just as worried about Coronavirus as we are. We have assembled several resources that can assist you including tips for talking to your children about COVID-19. Other links are also available on our COVID-19 webpage. Yesterday, I found a podcast that I really liked for our elementary students called “Talking to Kids About Coronavirus Fears.”

As we shift to remote/virtual learning systems next week, we want to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that your children may be feeling.  This will be a new experience for both our students and our teachers, and with that in mind, we ask that we all work together with patience, understanding and compassion.  Think of next week much like you would the start of the school year. Teachers will begin rolling out learning experiences on Wednesday. At the elementary level, you will see a focus on navigating students through this new process and reconnecting with their teachers and previous learning.  At the secondary level, teachers will connect with their students and set expectations for learning.  Many of our secondary teachers and students have been regularly utilizing Canvas and online resources and will have an easier transition to this system. 

We recognize that we will be learning along the way with you and will need to be adaptable as we go. I will be sending out the details of our plan next week. I hope that this message communicates to you all that we care about you and your children and want you to take care of yourself. Take this time to rest and reflect, and build your resiliency.

Take care,
Todd Washburn
Superintendent of Schools