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Friday Firebird Focus -- Information and Updates for Firebird Nation from Supt. Inskeep

Superintendent Scott Inskeep's "Friday Firebird Focus"

 

 

Superintendent Scott Inskeep's "Friday Firebird Focus" will provide information and updates each Friday on current events, district activities and work being done as we move toward reopening our schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Friday, July 2, 2020

Parents/Guardians, Staff and Community:

At his press conference on July 2, Gov. Mike’s DeWine’s first order of business was to address the reopening of schools across Ohio for the 2020-2021 school year. As expected, Gov. DeWine said that the state is providing a few mandates and a number of guidelines, but that he remains committed to the local control of our schools in Ohio, including in how they will reopen in the fall.

Gov. DeWine noted that the idea that schools are controlled by local communities, by boards of education, by parents is ingrained in the operations of public schools in Ohio, and his goal in releasing the guidelines on Thursday is to “balance local control with the state’s interest in protecting kids and making sure we are getting them educated.”

The bottom line, noted Gov. DeWine, is that we need to get kids back in school buildings, a sentiment that is shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here are the state guidelines Gov. DeWine outlined in his press conference for the safe reopening of Ohio schools: 

guidelines

In general, these guidelines will require parents/guardians/students to do health checks before coming to school each day (a temperature of 100+ would require the student to stay at home) and review and practice proper handwashing techniques. The district would be required to do regular sanitizing of the school environment and to manage social distancing requirements in all school locations and on school buses. Finally, all school staff will be required to wear masks while at work, and the state strongly recommends that students in grades 3-12+ wear face coverings while in school.

With these guidelines in mind, I, along with the other Montgomery County superintendents, am scheduled to meet on Monday with Jeff Cooper, health commissioner with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC). During this meeting, our plan is to discuss the state guidelines and how they will fit into the recommendations that Mr. Cooper and PHDMC will be making to our local school districts with regard to the safe reopening of our schools.

The recommendations and mandates given to us by PHDMC will certainly be influenced by Gov. DeWine’s newly released Alert System for measuring the dangers of the coronavirus in the state of Ohio. This Alert System places each county in one of four categories – Yellow, Orange, Red or Purple – as determined by the following seven indicators: 

7 Indicators
The higher the number of indicators in a county the greater the risk level and the higher that county will place within the Alert System:
 
Alert LevelsAt this time, Montgomery County is at the Red Level, which indicates a “very high exposure and spread” threat. Therefore, we do anticipate that PHDMC will be aggressive in requiring adherence by school districts county wide to the Health and Safety Guidelines Gov. DeWine released on Thursday.
 

My plan, following the meeting with PHDMC on Monday is to convene our Back-to-School Task Force and to take the state and county guidelines and weave them into a reopening plan that will get Kettering students safely back into our classrooms and our buildings by mid-August. My goal is to be able to share this detailed plan with parents/guardians, staff, students and the community by the end of the week of July 13. I understand that parents/guardians and students want to know “what’s happening with school next year!” With the state’s guidelines now in-hand and our meeting with PHDMC scheduled for next week, we are confident that we will have a detailed reopening plan ready for parents/guardians, staff and students within the next two weeks.

Kindergarten Screening

We will not be scheduling any summer screenings for incoming kindergartners. Typically, incoming kindergarten students are administered the screening tool known as the KRA-R in the spring before they will enter kindergarten and the screening tool known as KDI-2 just prior to the start of the school year. Because we were not able to administer the KRA-R in April this year, we will administer a modified version of the test, in conjunction with the KDI-2, when students start kindergarten in August.

If you have questions regarding kindergarten screenings, please contact Debbie Mears, director of Early Childhood Education, at deborah.mears@ketteringschools.org. If you have questions regarding the enrollment of your incoming kindergartner for the 2020-2021 school year, please contact Carmella Ford, district registrar, at carmella.ford@ketteringschools.org.

Preschool Registration

Preschool Registration packets will be available for pick-up at the Kettering Early Childhood Education Center, located at 2600 Holman St., Moraine, on Tuesday, July 7. You can also download and print out the packet from the district website at this link INERT LINK

Preschool Registration is scheduled for:
July 21 -- 9 am - 1 pm
July 22 -- 2 - 7:00 pm
July 23 -- 9 am - 1 pm

Registration will take place at the Kettering Early Childhood Education Center, located at 2600 Holman St. in Moraine and will be on a first-come, first-served basis because of the state-mandated limit on the number of preschool students we can have in a classroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you to everyone for your continued patience as we work through all of the moving parts of safely reopening our schools and getting our students back in the classroom.

I hope everyone has a safe, fun and relaxing 4th of July weekend!

Scott Inskeep
Superintendent

   

Friday, June 26, 2020

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively
and to think critically.  
Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”
 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Kettering City Schools Community:

On Monday night, we celebrated our graduates during a virtual commencement. We celebrated their accomplishments, most assuredly, but we also celebrated their resilience, grit and kindness in working through a fourth quarter that none of our graduates could have imagined when they started their senior year last August. As educators, we are charged with guiding our students from grade-to-grade until they ultimately reach that pinnacle of accomplishment – the awarding of their high school diplomas. The devastating and senseless events that have occurred in our country over the past few months and the spotlight these recent events have put on other, perhaps less well-known, but equally disturbing events, has prompted me to reflect on the bigger responsibility we educators have to help ourselves and our young people gain a greater understanding of the absolute need to respect and accept people who are different than we are – whether that be a difference in race, religion, economic status, disability or sexual orientation.

Let me start by stating clearly and unequivocally that racism and prejudice have no place in our classrooms, our gyms, our auditoriums, our cafeterias or our athletic fields. We know that there are some students and adults who bring racial prejudices with them to school and work, developed over time from family, societal and cultural interactions and inputs. Our Board Policy states that harassment or discrimination of “protected classes of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and transgender identity), disability, age, religion, military status, ancestry or genetic information” will not be tolerated. More directly, racism will never be accepted on any of our campuses or in any of our buildings.

While zero tolerance for discrimination is clearly stated in our Board Policy, current events are a call-to-action to renew our commitment to what we are already doing and identify what more we can do. I am committed, as superintendent of the Kettering City Schools, to making our district’s stance on racism, prejudice and discrimination more well-known. Simply put, this policy needs to go from a post on our website that many people may not even know how to locate, to an inherent understanding of how everyone – children and adults alike – will behave toward others when they are in class and at school-sponsored activities.

So...what are we doing now and what more can we do in the future in order to make this happen? Two years ago, our administrative staff was fortunate to participate in diversity and equity training through the National Conference for Community Justice of Greater Dayton, and this training is something I plan to continue and expand on in the future. Our Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and Second Step -- our elementary level social/emotional learning program -- both have anti-bullying, empathy and inclusion components. Hope Squad, in place at Fairmont High School and Kettering and Van Buren middle schools, is a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program that promotes kindness, empathy and acceptance as a means of reducing stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues. Fairmont High School’s “Supper Club” is an initiative that supports cultural acceptance by bringing a diverse group of students together monthly for dinner and conversation. And the district’s Man’ners Club pairs young boys without a positive male presence in the home with a mentor who promotes positive behaviors and helps them learn etiquette skills.

These are a few examples of what we are doing now to combat racial and cultural prejudice, but there is much work yet to be done. First and foremost, we must commit to listening and learning from each other. If we are to combat racism, we must first seek to understand what racism is and how it impacts our students and families of color. Our district embraces equity and inclusiveness, but we must do more. I am committed to doing everything I can to reach the level of understanding that is needed in order to truly be a part of this movement of change in our community and country. I am fortunate that parents and other members of our school community have reached out to me and offered their ideas and suggestions as to what we, as a school district, can do to make racial and cultural acceptance and equity an integral part of our school culture. I intend to take advantage of these opportunities to continue to listen, learn and lead our schools toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion.

I encourage our families to talk to each other and your children about the importance of accepting, respecting and even celebrating those who are different. Our mission states that we will work in partnership with our families and community to provide students with a positive and innovative learning environment. This partnership is perhaps more important now than ever before as we all work together to educate ourselves and our children about diversity, equity and respect. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a number of excellent resources on its website for educators and families to utilize in talking with children about race and racism, as well recommended books, articles and videos regarding racial justice, equity and equality. I encourage you to visit the website at:  https://www.pbs.org/parents/talking-about-racism

Likewise, I remain committed to continuing dialogue between the district, our families and our community as we all work toward being positive agents for change and reform. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments, suggestions and concerns.

Scott Inskeep
Superintendent

*  *  *  *  *

Friday, June 19, 2020

KCS Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community:

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and getting a chance to relax and rejuvenate after an unusual conclusion to the 2019-2020 school year.

We are facing uncharted times in public education, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are still many more "unknowns" than "knowns," I want to make sure we are keeping you as informed and updated as possible as we work toward the 2020-2021 school year.

Each Friday, I will post a "Friday Firebird Focus" to our parents, guardians, staff and community in an effort to keep you apprised of the steps we are taking to reopen our schools.

Please note that our decisions regarding the reopening of our buildings will be dependent upon the guidelines and mandates we receive from the state and from Public Health Dayton Montgomery County. And while we would all like to know today exactly what August and the start of a new school year might look like, this simply isn't possible, due to the complexities surrounding this virus.

With this in mind, I will share with you in these Friday posts what we have planned in the here-and-now for the 2020-2021 school year:

(1) Our plan right now is to return to "bricks-and-mortar" schools with students in classrooms in mid-August, as planned.

(2) We understand that there may be some parents/guardians who prefer that their children not be at school as early as August, and our Teaching & Learning Department is hard-at-work developing learning options for these students.

(3) We will have ample hand sanitizing stations set up at high-traffic areas in each of our buildings.

(4) Our custodial staff will be trained in the use of room sanitizing misting machines and will be sanitizing in each building nightly.

(5) As of today, the mandates in place with regard to preschool and childcare programming are extremely strict in terms of the numbers of students/children and staff that can be together in a room, social distancing requirements, sanitizing requirements and so on. We anticipate receiving updated guidelines for preschool and childcare in early-to-mid-July that will help us in determining what these two programs might look like for the 2020-2021 school year. I know that childcare for next year is a stressful topic for many of you, so I will communicate our plan for these programs with you as soon as we are able to formulate it.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments as we continue to work toward making decisions with regard to the 2020-2021 school year that are in the best interest of our students, staff members and families.

Thank you.
Scott Inskeep
Superintendent





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