Superintendent Safe Together Letter

Supt MessageOur mission, in DeSoto ISD, is to ensure students, without exception, learn and grow at their highest levels. While some of our data has shown that some students are thriving in a virtual learning environment, I have also been monitoring data that shows that hundreds of our students are struggling with at-home learning. In addition, our pre-COVID education data showed us that we needed an intense focus to accelerate learning in order to close significant achievement gaps heading into this year.


And, as superintendent, I want the best for each and every student in our system. So naturally, I want students to be in the best learning environment that works for them.That’s why I am encouraging students who learn best in a face-to-face environment to return to in-person learning at our campuses as we embark on being Safe Together.


Schools provide more than just teaching and learning. In addition to academics, students learn social and emotional skills, get exercise, and have access to mental health and other support services. For many students, schools are safe and stimulating places to be while parents or guardians are working. For many families, schools are where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services.

 

The broader distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to our communities gives us hope that everyday life, including school, can get back to normal. As a result, we believe that it is safe for larger numbers of students to return to our schools.

 

Primarily because school is a controlled environment.

 

When you go out to eat, go shopping, or engage in any other activity out in public, you have no control over the health practices and decisions of others around you. You can’t control who is sick or who is unmasked.

 

This is not the case at school. A teacher controls their classroom environment. All students are spaced out as much as possible and wearing masks, as are all the adults on campus. 

 

We’ve been working with our local health officials to develop layered safety measures to help keep our students, teachers, and staff safe amid this global pandemic. While no single action will completely eliminate the COVID-19 risk, collectively, safe practices can greatly reduce it. 


Our task force of district leaders have provided health and safety guidelines regarding facial coverings, social distancing, additional personal protective equipment and our classroom ventilation standards & practices. In the coming months, wide-scale vaccination opportunities for teachers and staff will only improve our outlook. Many of our staff members have already received their first round of the vaccine and are awaiting the second distribution. I look forward to frequently updating our community regarding our vaccinated staff numbers.


Finally, while I am proud of the virtual and on-campus learning models that our team developed and implemented at the start of this global pandemic, thanks to the feedback of parents, staff and students, we have revamped what on-campus learning now looks like.


As we move towards increasing the number of students on campus, we find it necessary to introduce instructional delivery models that meet the individual learning needs of more students. I am confident that our updated approach to our instructional delivery models:


  • Effectively meets the needs of both in-person & virtual learners

  • Provides opportunities for differentiation through instruction based on student learning style

  • Increases student engagement for in-person learners

  • Supports student interventions and students in special learning groups

  • Continues to utilize technology, while infusing more traditional instructional techniques and strategies

and

  • Encourages participation, communication, and collaboration among students 


Remember, school during this pandemic may not feel like normal – at least for a while yet. But one thing that I know for sure is that we need everyone's support to make sure that school is healthy, safe and equitable for students, teachers, staff, and families.

 

And I’m committed to doing everything that I can to ensure that we Stay #SafeTogether.

 

Thanks,

Dr. D’Andre Weaver

Superintendent of Schools

DeSoto Independent School District