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Kelly Koppinger
Sunday, August 16, 2020

August 15, 2020

Dear New England Public School Community,

For the last six months, we have all navigated the ever-changing landscape that the coronavirus pandemic continues to create. Throughout, the health and safety of our students and staff have been our top priority.

During the past couple of weeks, school districts were sent additional guidance from the ND Department of Health. After closely reviewing the details regarding the safe reopening of schools, we are still in the Green (low risk) zone for the spread of the Coronavirus disease. With this low level of Covid-19 in our communities, we are confident that our schools can open safely. However, we have some concerns starting on August 20th.

As we face the start of a new school year, we have encountered several issues that we have resolved to ensure we are creating the safest possible environment we can for our students. However, we have encountered a couple of issues, beyond our control, that we are struggling to resolve. Most of our technology devices are in and will be ready to implement shortly. Unfortunately, some of our devices have been back-ordered due to the demand placed on vendors trying to meet the needs created by this pandemic.  Every school in the nation needs to provide distance learning opportunities to their students creating a shortage of devices.

As a result of this shortage, our district would like to make sure we have all our resources in place before we start the school year in the event, we must move into our distance learning model. The Spring of 2020 taught us many lessons about at home learning. This decision will allow us to put all our energy into creating the best pedagogical model for delivering online instruction for the start of school.

With that in mind, we will be delaying the start of the school year for students until August 27th. This will give our administration, technology department, and staff members (5) days to get our technology devices ready, provide additional professional development, and help us to ensure that all students are equitably equipped with the technology they need to participate in the enhanced model of virtual instruction that we will provide. Our distance learning plan will include engaging, stimulating, and rigorous lessons in a variety of formats for increased student engagement.

This delayed start will not change our 2020-2021 school calendar. All of our scheduled breaks and holidays will remain the same. The last day of school and graduation will also remain the same. The only change will be the start date of August 27th.

All classes will be in-person and on campus. Our schedule will remain the same as before. All of our students will be in attendance every day. We will also be working with our local religious organizations to provide release time for those students who have signed up.

This is a deeply emotional time for everyone, and we realize that this might create some unforeseen problems for families. We understand that there will be childcare and work challenges for families. However, we feel starting school one week later will ensure we have the necessary resources in place to start the school year in a position to move into our distance learning environment more effectively.

I am confident that together, we will continue to successfully educate our children in the months ahead. We must protect the future by standing united as a community of parents, students, teachers, administrators and Board of Education members. This pandemic will eventually end and what will matter most, is that we move forward through this time united in protecting our community. As ever, our teachers, staff and Board of Education are committed to working on behalf of you and your families to create a bright future for all our children.

We will be holding a virtual information session on August 25th to listen to your questions and concerns. Details will follow.

In the interim you may submit questions to: kelly.koppinger@k12.nd.us.

Sincerely,

Kelly Koppinger
Superintendent, New England Public School