Dear families,

This month marks three years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So much has been written about the last three years, but this feels like a good moment to reflect on what has changed for our District. The pandemic impacted every part of our lives, and we’ll be dealing with the after-effects for years to come. While it is difficult to always find the bright spots in times of stress, the pandemic did provide many opportunities for our teams to think differently, try new approaches and learn.  

First and foremost, the pandemic fundamentally changed the way we interact with community partner organizations. Early on in the pandemic, we saw an intense desire from partners to help. We started bringing all of those organizations together for regular conference calls, in which we shared information, asked for help, and – most importantly – connected with people. These partners helped us navigate the pandemic, and they continue to play an essential role in meeting the needs of our students, staff and families.   

As a result of the pandemic, we’ve also changed how we think about the physical health of our buildings. When we first re-opened school buildings in the fall of 2020, we did so with enhanced air handling and cleaning practices in place. We’ve continued to prioritize building air quality by upgrading air handling systems at our schools, and this remains a central consideration in our long-term facilities planning. We’ve also continued to emphasize enhanced cleaning practices, and our new contract with Aramark increases cleaning levels at all schools in high-touch areas such as front entrances, bathrooms and office spaces, to name a few.

In the big picture, our response to the pandemic has helped us to realize that we can do the things that we would have thought were impossible. Three years ago, for example, we quickly flipped to remote learning and just as quickly figured out a way to distribute meals across the city, using tools and personnel we already had at our disposal. We learned a lot during this time, but this was a lesson in our true potential. 

Today, our students and staff are working hard to close learning gaps and to stretch learning to new levels. I am impressed at how our students are starting to show progress to regain growth in their academic activities and assessments. It’s also exciting to see more returns to pre-pandemic academic activities and events that showcase our students and their work. We are a long way from where we were three years ago, and we’ll continue to move forward together. 


Jennifer Gillis,
Superintendent of Schools