Note that these updates normally come out Friday afternoon, so the newsletter will carry the previous week’s update
It’s finally here–Monday we will welcome all students in grades one through 12 back to school for in-person learning for the first time in 18 months! Our preschool and kindergarten students will join us on Thursday, September 2. It would be an understatement to say that we’re excited to see our students again, but I also want to acknowledge that this return brings some level of anxiety to many. In my convocation speech to the faculty and staff today, I noted that everyone has experienced their own unique pandemic. For some, the transition to being less engaged in person with others has been incredibly difficult. The loss of social contact has negatively impacted the wellbeing of many of our students, staff, and community. For others, they have found this new arrangement safer–and I am not only speaking of COVID safety–and have thrived. These folks may be re-entering a context that comes with many challenges for them. Some in the ARPS community have not experienced a loss of a family member or close friend due to COVID. Others have experienced significant tragedies due to the virus. What learning comes from this aspect of the pandemic? Well, I would offer that it’s a reminder–or more than a reminder, an urgent call–to treat each other kindly and compassionately.
On Tuesday of this week, we welcomed a talented and diverse group of educators who are joining the ARPS team. I had the pleasure of meeting all of them and was struck by their expertise and excitement to begin their work with us. I am also happy to report that over half of our new hires this year identify as people of color, which has never occurred before in this district. This is an amazing step toward our goal of ensuring that our students get to work with adults in every district role who reflect their culture and heritage. Yesterday, all of our educators came together to begin two days of learning, collaboration and preparation for the return to the classroom.
Another group of dedicated individuals whose work is essential to our schools are the Amherst, Pelham and Regional School Committees. The Amherst School Committee will begin their fall meeting schedule next Tuesday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. One of the agenda topics will be the first of two public hearings regarding the potential future move of Amherst sixth grade students to Amherst Regional Middle School (as soon as the Fall of 2022), as was under discussion in the spring. Everyone is welcome to join in this important conversation. The agenda for the meeting can be found here.
Please remember that Monday will be a half-day for all students, meaning the elementary schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m. and the secondary schools will dismiss at 1:20 p.m. Enjoy this last weekend of summer vacation and we will see you on Monday!