A Message to the CRCSD Community

Here is the written text from the video:

Hello again, Cedar Rapids Community School District families. I’m Superintendent Noreen Bush. 

By now we’ve had just a bit of time to process Friday’s announcement that our district, along with all districts in the state, will be closed through the remainder of the school year. This is difficult news to process, isn’t it? So much is different right now -- and entirely unexpected. How we operate, how we communicate, the processes that worked smoothly just two months ago-- all of it has been upended and completely redesigned. Just like many aspects of your life. 

Yet, I’m confident that as we progress through the coming months as a state, the academic needs of our students will remain the priority of all of us from the Iowa Department of Education all the way down to the classroom teachers in our very own district.  

In addition to the academic needs that will be addressed as we move forward, this weekend I’ve been thinking a lot about the emotional wellbeing of our students and our families in the context of the experiences that they’ll now miss out on. 

For instance, our little 5th graders would normally have an opportunity to say good-bye to their beloved elementary schools and have traditions that prepare them for that next step into middle school next year. And we will not have that opportunity of the physical sense of closure. Our 8th graders transitioning into high school will also miss out on the traditions that, in many ways, are not just symbolic but offer the kind of closure that our brains and hearts need. And our seniors. Class of 2020. They’ve received communication from their principals that echo many of my sentiments. But I will share it here, again. Many of the capstones of a senior year are traditions embedded not only in the culture of our district but in our nation’s fabric. Some of these experiences which bring with them the tangible emotional sense of closure, transition, and transformation into the new beginning that will not be able to be replicated this year,  no matter what we do. BUT! Our efforts are grounded in compassion and relationships and we will be working eagerly -- and with you as partners in this effort -- to take on the challenges faced now by wholly embracing ingenuity and innovation to honor the academic career of our seniors, this moment of transition, and the new beginnings that await you deserve celebration. 

Anyone who knows me knows I’m that I am full of heart. And there is nothing that I want more right now than to be in schools, seeing kids, smiling at them, waving at them, embracing them, and letting them know that everything is going to be OK. I would love to wrap my arms around them with kindness and care.  

Which means that I have spent more time deeply recognizing the disparate ways COVID-19 is impacting our families. 

  • There are some families who are discovering that this time in isolation has offered solace and calm from chaotic days and demanding lives. 
  • The lives of other families, overnight, became shockingly more chaotic and there’s no letting up.
  • We have students who are craving their rigorous learning schedules and that daily contact with teachers and their peers.
  • Some families, whether the adults are essential workers or working full-time at home, are relying on older siblings to take care of younger siblings and the family unit has completely be reconstructed. 
  • One family’s access to health care services and food security is completely different than another family’s experience. 
  • The fact is that some of our children and adults are not physically safe in their homes, or they are experiencing no access to the internet or other food insecurity, they simply feel overwhelmed and under-resourced. 
  • Some families are even more isolated than before due to language barriers, and physical conditions, and lack of public transportation. There are a host of factors that are changing all of our lives. 
  • And yet families are discovering that, overall, they are getting a lot more time together.

I am reminded now, more than ever, of how lucky we are to have such a caring community and how important it is that we remain vigilant and committed to meeting the needs of all. 

To our incredible CRCSD staff, thank you to all who understand, in your heart, the importance of this work. Thank you to employees who are doing the essential work of keeping operations going, ensuring children in our community have access to healthy meals, and ensuring academic resources are accessible and being provided to students. Thank you for your dedication to our students and our families.

And to everyone: now, more than ever, I ask that you take care. Take care in all the ways that it can be meant: be watchful over others; be responsible to and for others; show concern and act with compassion; see to the wellness in body, spirit, and livelihood of yourself and those in your life. Take care of yourself, those in your home and those who you know may need additional support. We are absolutely in this together, and if we continue to take care of each other we will get through this together.

Know that we will work hard to make plans to move forward. I cannot thank you enough for your support. We will continue to communicate and keep you informed for the duration of this year, through the summer, and into next year of course. Every day brings us new information and as that information comes we will keep you updated. 

I wish you the very best. 

Best to all of you. Thank you so much. Be well.  

Noreen Bush

 

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