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Superintendent's Update to Parents

Washburn Message

April 29, 2020

Dear Parents and Students,

It’s been nearly two weeks since school districts across the state announced that school buildings would be closed and remote learning would continue for the remainder of the school year. I know that for most of us it is still hard to fathom that we will not be able to come back together to finish the year and find closure. However, we know that is the right decision because the health and safety of our families and our community is the top priority for all of us. To the best of our ability, we all are adjusting. Our teachers and instructional leaders have worked hard to reach every student and to design remote learning to meet each student’s needs. We also recognize the incredible efforts that our parents have done during this time to partner with the school district and our teachers to support the students in DSISD.   We know this process hasn’t been perfect, but am I proud of all members of the Tiger Nation for demonstrating Collaboration, Adaptability, Resilience and Empathy (CARE).

Thank you for your Feedback!

I said the process of remote learning hasn’t been perfect, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to get better every day! For the past week, we used a tool called Thought Exchange to ask parents to share their observations about this experience. We had more than 1,000 thoughts provided by 758 respondents! The tool also allows respondents to rate the ideas of others so that we can see which ideas were most highly regarded.

We received valuable feedback and will apply some of what we learned by sharing with principals and teachers. Many people shared appreciation for teachers and reported positive aspects like flexibility for students and a reasonable workload. Among the many observations, parents expressed a desire for more instructional videos or one-on-one time with a teacher, and shared that it is confusing to use many different platforms and tools. We have shared this feedback with our administrators who will be providing this feedback to our teachers to look for ways we can enhance/improve our support for our students and families.  We know that our current situation has increased everyone’s stress level, and that remote learning is especially challenging for working parents.

Social-Emotional Learning Support

Along the lines of stress and mental health, I’d like to share with you that we have created a webpage to house resources and information about social-emotional learning and mental health support. We know that counselors at all campuses are reaching out to families in many ways to offer support. We also encourage you and or your student to reach out to our counselors and or administrators if you need support or assistance in this area.  In partnership with the Dripping Springs Education Foundation, our counselors are producing a weekly video that is posted on our social media accounts called “Feel Good Fridays” to offer some tips to help our families. Also check out these fun videos created by teachers and staff who miss their students!

End-of-the-Year Processes/Celebrations

One question we are starting to be asked is how students will pick up items they left at school. We know that elementary students did not have a chance to clean out their desks and secondary athletes/band students may have things in their lockers.  We are working with our campuses to determine the best method for picking-up these personal items, utilizing the best practice social distancing protocols to protect our students, families and staff.  Once these processes are finalized, we will communicate them to you.

Regarding the end of the school year, we know that students enjoy many special activities and events at all levels. We are trying to creatively find ways to honor those traditions. We recently surveyed seniors and their parents regarding potential alternative dates or formats for graduation, but have not yet made a decision regarding commencement for the Class of 2020.  Governor Abbot has indicated there will be state-wide guidance on graduation coming soon.  That information will help inform our decision.

District Updates

While I know that your priority is caring for your child(ren) right now, I also wanted to share that our Board of Trustees has held virtual meetings the past two Mondays and took some action on April 27 that may be of interest. The Board adopted a resolution related to procedures for grade-point average and class rank, which temporarily modifies Board Policy EIC Local for this year, so that the spring semester will not count towards grade-point average or class rank.

Another notable item was the approval of an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Dripping Springs, the Dripping Springs Community Library District, and Hays County to begin negotiations that will involve the conveyance of property – approximately 11.7 acres where the DSISD Administration Building is currently located – for future use as a Town Center. This action is the next step in an effort to create a center of Dripping Springs with combined services. I’d like to thank our Board of Trustees for thoughtful consideration, planning, and coordination to maximize the use of district facilities in a manner that best serves taxpayers and our educational community. The DSISD Administration Offices are scheduled to relocate to the current Walnut Springs Elementary campus in 2022 after Walnut Springs Elementary moves to a new building next to Dripping Springs Middle School in the fall of 2021.

I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I continue to feel to be a part of such an incredible district made of teachers, parents, staff and community members who are focused on supporting our students through this unprecedented time. Thank you again for everything you are doing to support your students and DSISD.

Take care,
Todd Washburn