Dr. Gaines: How our plans changed due to COVID-19, and how we’ve learned to ‘go with the flow’

Dr. Gaines: How our plans changed due to COVID-19, and how we’ve learned to ‘go with the flow’
Posted on 06/22/2020
Dr. Gaines assists with Grab and Go lunch distributionThose who know me well know that I am a planner. Whether here at work, a family vacation, scout trip or paddling trip, I have a plan. Needless to say, this year did not go as planned. The COVID-19 global pandemic certainly pushed us to be agile in the midst of rapidly changing information.

We started the year with a plan for engaging the community around the next iteration of our strategic plan. Thankfully, most of that work had wrapped up before the nation started social distancing. The big themes that emerged during the process were safety and personalization. Interestingly, both have played a significant role during the COVID-19 school closure. This summer we will begin to turn those themes into goals, strategies and action steps. We expect to have our revised strategic plan wrapped up in early 2021 for implementation in the 2021-2022 school year.

Additionally, our Facilities Steering Committee went from in-person meetings to tour our facilities and prioritize projects to virtual meetings. Thankfully, the group had been able to tour all of our campuses before the outbreak. The group is slated to make some final recommendations over the summer.

Summer school has changed as well. We’ve moved from an in-person summer school in June to a multi-session virtual summer school throughout the summer. I encourage families to register their kids for our summer school program. Registration is still open for the high school program and for the July elementary and middle school sessions.

Facilities work in the district this summer was slated to focus on a small number of big projects. With the closure, we’ve been able to get an earlier start than we had planned. Summer projects include roofing work at Mehlville High School and Bernard Middle School, as well as HVAC upgrades at Hagemann Elementary. There are a few smaller projects planned, though not as many as in years prior. These projects include asphalt sealing and striping, tennis court and retaining wall repairs, and waterproofing.

This summer, our planning related to COVID-19 continues. In April, we formed a Return to School Committee, which was tasked with planning how we can deliver high-quality instruction in a variety of scenarios. This committee continues to meet through the summer. We expect to share more plans with the community the week of July 20.

Although I do plan a lot, I did come across a concept years ago that encourages me to over plan and then go with the flow. That is what the school community has done as a whole. I can’t thank our teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and students enough for the grace, patience and flexibility they’ve shown through this challenging spring.
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