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Episode 45: The 2020-21 School Year– Preparing Students and Our Schools

What are schools doing to welcome students back safely for the 2020-21 school year? In this episode of the Supercast, we find out what is going on in schools right now with the installation and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We also offer some tips for parents who are looking to get their students ready for a successful new school year.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast today. We're talking about the Personal Protective Equipment that's being delivered to schools. We'll visit Copper Canyon Elementary. We'll also talk with Stacee Worthen about how parents and students can prepare for the coming school year and make course changes, if necessary. I'm here at Copper Canyon eElementary with Principal Patty Bowen. We have our boom mic. And so we are doing our first in-person Supercast for a long time, but still distanced and still with masks. Thank you for joining us on the Supercast.

Patty:
You're welcome. We're excited to get these materials.

Superintendent:
Yes. We're here with Patty and all the materials that she has received, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that just arrived at the school here on display. So walk us through what you just received today, Patty.

Patty:
Okay. Well, we have face masks with the Jordan District logo on them, two per teacher. We're excited to distribute those. They are reusable, washable. They'll look very nice.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I have a mask, but can I try one of these on? I think I'm going to have to keep it, one sec. Let's try it. Oh, that's actually pretty comfortable. It's better than the one I had on.

Patty:
We also have these cool, infrared thermometers we are going to pull on out of the box here. Yeah, those are going to be great. You just scan a child's forehead and don't have to touch them and I don't have to touch anything and we can see if they're running the temperature.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It's fired up. Oh, it came with batteries. So let's load some batteries in there. Alright. I guess I'll take your temperature. Let's see. Well, let's see how she's doing. 97.2. I don't get to go home and then you don't get to go home.

Patty:
And we've got several bottles of disinfectant spray and some paper towels. These heavy duty kind of cloth towels that we're going to use to sanitize desktops and things in the faculty room. Just things that need regular sanitation. We also have these big, heavy pieces of plexiglass.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. The plexiglass seems nice and sturdy. All right. We actually have to happen to have an actual student here. An example, students kind of a sample student. Would you please sit in the chair here? Tell me your name, Ellie.

Student:
Ellie.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Ellie's here. So we're going to practice, through the plexiglass here, how that feels.

Student:
Yeah. It's kind of different.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Isn't that right? We've tearing off most of the plastic here. That's pretty clear. That's a lot more personal than just a screen. Yeah, I like that. Wow. It feels good to sit across the table from an actual real life student. Nice to see you. Alright. And I can see you very well through here. Can you hear me okay?

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How does it feel for you on the other side?

Student:
It feels good. I thought it would be more filmy. So, I can see you and can connect with you, but it's better.

Student:
Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Good. I'm glad to hear that. It really is. We can pass things back and forth here through this little window if we need to. It's a good connection. So Ellie, we've looked through the plexiglass and we've talked with masks on and you've been in the school. How are you feeling about the start of school coming up?

Student:
I'm excited. I'm excited to be able to interact with my friends again and like see my teachers.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. I think, once we get back and start to experience that again, we'll realize even more just how much we missed it.

Patty:
I think this is going to be great. Teachers are gonna love, working with their students, face to face again through the plexiglass. They're gonna enjoy that. And we also have these big gallon size of hand sanitizer. It's going to work well in the classroom, keeping things sanitized and kids going back and forth from recess and lunch and things using that throughout the day.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, that gallon of hand sanitizer, that is a big,  that's a lot of hand sanitizer right there. It's going to be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Patty:
I know that we send out rubber bands as well to put around the top so that it doesn't go all the way down. You know, you push down sometimes on that pump and you get a whole pint of it there. Thank you very much for joining us Patty. I know we have thousands of these being distributed throughout the District and some of our warehouse drivers have actually driven up to Ogden to pick some of them up directly from the warehouse to get them out as quickly as we could. So we appreciate everyone's efforts getting these ready to go. I know schools have been eager to receive these materials and now that you have them, you can start to get those into classrooms. So thanks for everything you're doing, Patty.

Patty:
You're welcome. Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, Stacee Worthen will help talk us through how students and parents can request a class change before the start of school. Stay with us.

Sandra Riesgraf:
Are you looking for a job right now? Looking to work in a fun and supportive environment with great take and a rewarding career? Jordan School District is hiring. We're currently filling full and part time positions. You can work and make a difference in young lives and education as a classroom assistant or a substitute teacher, apply to work in one of our school cafeterias where our lunch staff serves up big smiles with great food every day. We're also looking to hire custodians and bus drivers in Jordan School District. We like to say, "People come for the job and enjoy the adventure". Apply today at workatjordan.org.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome back to the Supercast. We're here now with Stacee Worthen, our Secondary Counselor Specialist at the District level. And she's going to talk with us a little bit about how we can effectively help students return to school after they've been out for so long. This is about twice as long as any student has ever been out of school since they started. So, there are going to be some adjustments and it's going to be a little bit difficult. What are some things we can do to help prepare students to return?

Stacee:
So what I would talk to your students about is that it is normal to feel anxious or stressed or a little uncomfortable about going back to school and what that's going to look like. Because when you say, this is the first time that we've ever gone back to school, after being out of school for such a long time, we've never done it before. It's new and it's new for everyone. You're normalizing it for your child. And that makes them feel much more prepared to be able to address those feelings of being anxious or uncomfortable or stressed. So, it's important for them to understand that teachers, counselors, and other students, as well as themselves, are going to be feeling uncomfortable and stressed because this is the first time that we've ever all experienced this. And so that's okay.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I've heard this theme, as I've spoken with you and other experts in the District, about validating concerns rather than dismissing them. And I've done that as a father, as well. Just try to step back and say, there's a reason you feel this way and it's okay for you to feel this way. And other people feel this way. But now, let's talk about how you can manage that and deal with that. And, you can do this and you can overcome the feelings of anxiety or concern that you're having.

Stacee:
Once you normalize it, then you can say, okay, this is the first time we've ever experienced opening schools in a pandemic. We've never done this before, on both sides, as parents and as a school district. Right? And so once we normalize it and say, okay, this is going to be hard because we've never done it before. Then it allows us to, it empowers us to be able to go, okay, now we can go through these really hard times. We have the strength to do it. We know that it's gonna be hard. It's going to be uncomfortable and it might take more resources, more time, more emotional resources than we've ever put into this before. But we are now empowered to be able to move forward. And so, then you're telling your children this is going to be hard, harder than you've ever experienced before, but now you have the power to move forward and start working towards.

Now we can find the solutions, we can find the resources and we can start making those steps. Now, in three months we might say, Oh, that worked really well, that didn't, and so now we have new ideas and new resources and we're going to continue to move forward. And then when we get to the other side, then we say, you know what? You did really hard things and you were successful and we're really proud of you. And  now we we can move forward because we've been able to do those hard things.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. And it's a very different feeling to say, I feel this way, and other people feel this way and it's okay that I feel this way. And now I can address it and try to solve it as opposed to, why do I feel with this way? What's wrong with me that I feel this way? Everyone else is handling this and I'm stressed and upset. What are some tips, especially for parents, just as they are thinking about how to prepare themselves for the changes that come with sending kids back to school and the worry that may be associated with that?

Stacee:
Well, the tips that we always give are first and foremost. Take care of yourself because when you are well rested, you've gotten some exercise, you're eating right, then you can be the best parent that you can be to address the issues that your children are experiencing. Then you need to do the same for your children. You need to talk to them about their stresses and their concerns. Keep that open line of communication because they are going to be scared and nervous. And that's normal. Everybody is experiencing that. But, also make sure that they're doing all the things to take care of themselves as well, physically active, that you're controlling their screen time, that they're getting some really good sleep. All of those things are going to help. And then you can go ahead and move forward. And next week you can communicate with the school because that's when our counselors are going to really know how they cab best work with these kids to do what they do best to help them be successful at school. cCommunicate with your counselor, talk about your students' needs, and then figure out what is going to work best for your child, and then move forward and let them know this is going to be hard, but they can do it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. And that's the other part of it. It's hard. It's okay to feel this way, but you can do it. And there's a lot of support. And the fact that we're all in it makes a big difference. A couple of things, I have done a terrible job with screen time. The screen time limits have just vaporized, as has the bedtime. And I know that a routine is important and we have a routine. It just involves a lot of screen time and going to bed pretty late. And so we're going to have to wrap up, just like you talked about. But thinking about that now, I think will help prepare us for that. So I that's great advice.

Stacee:
Same thing at my house. I say to my son, Dude, you must sleep. You can't be up until midnight and then expect to get up for school. So on Monday, he's already got a plan where he's going to set his alarm and practice getting up. Even if he's tired, he's gonna get up and eat breakfast and get back into that routine of going to bed a little bit early. We bought some paddle boards to get out. You have to be a little creative with the times we're experiencing right with social distancing. So for us, we thought, okay, our kids like being outdoors paddle boarding. So we've been doing a little bit more of that. As a family, you have to decide what is going to work best, but absolutely start your routine on Monday so the kids are ready to start school.

Superintendent Godfrey:
The paddle boarding, that sounds great. Now, you mentioned counselors. Counselors, of course, are a great resource. Time has taken on a different sort of quality these days and class choices that were made in April seemed like they were made years ago, right? And there may need to be some adjustments to the student's schedule. Will you talk parents through how best to approach at the middle school and at the high school level, AND request for course changes at the school. How to approach a counselor. How does that work for parents who may be seeking a class change for their students?

Stacee:
Sure. So when you are looking at a class change for your child, what you need to do is contact the school Counseling Center. Probably you're going to call their secretary. And your best route is to schedule an appointment so that they have time to be able to sit and meet with you and go through what the best options are because you're right, the scheduling has changed. The master schedule is going to be different than what it was in May. So there may be some different teachers, there may be some different options. And that takes about 15 to 30 minutes to just sit down with your counselor, talk about your student's needs and then fitting those classes back into the schedule, the best that they can. Now, obviously it might not be the perfect schedule. They might not be able to get exactly everything that you want, but they will facilitate meeting your child's needs to the best of their ability. And it will be the same if you're doing a partial schedule or in-person classes versus online, the school counselor will also do that as well.

Superintendent Godfrey:
But the bottom line is that if you want a class change, there's a window within which a student can do that by setting up an appointment with a counselor before the start of school. And counselors have contract days that go after school ends and before school starts to allow for exactly that.

Stacee:
That's right. And in fact, most of my teams have been back this week and they're going to be all back to work on Monday.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay, great. What other advice do you have for students or parents as they look forward to starting school? What kind of a frame of mind can set them up for success?

Stacee:
I think that they just need to make sure they know that they can do hard things, that even though this isn't going to be what they have experienced in the past, this is new, they have the ability to be flexible and be kind to one another and they're going to be just fine. And they're going to be able to come out the other side and be able to have new skills and new abilities that are going to be probably bigger and better than we can ever imagine because they've been successful going through this difficult time.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. I think your point about kindness is very important because we haven't been together in these circumstances and when you're under stress and you're in a new circumstance, sometimes not at our best, it's more difficult to be kind sometimes when we're not at our best. So we need to be very deliberate about focusing on being kind to one another as we return. Right?

Stacee:
Let's try and find the best in each other and the situation and move forward. The best that we can.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, beyond getting your schedule set up the way you'd like, counselors offer all kinds of support, social and emotional wellness and just helping kids grapple with and solve problems and issues that pop up.

Stacee:
Absolutely. They will still be working with all students on social and emotional wellness. They'll still be trying to run groups safely with social distancing. They still will be coming in to classrooms and teaching lessons on anything to do with social, emotional, behavioral issues and support. They're still going to be doing everything that they've done in the past to try and meet the needs of the kids. It's more than just academics. It's about the whole child for counselors. It's about how we can make sure that everything within that child, social, emotional behavioral academic is the best that it can possibly be as well as giving them skills to be able to work through some of those stresses and anxieties that they're feeling.

Superintendent Godfrey:
There's a close relationship between social and emotional wellness and academic learning. You can't learn academics unless you're feeling good enough to do that. But when you enjoy academic success, then it boosts your social, emotional wellness. So there's a really close relationship between the two.

Stacee:
And we really want to make sure that all of that is working for each student so that they can develop and grow and be happy and experience all of the success that they can in a school setting.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Well, thank you very much, Stacee, for joining us. We look forward to seeing you as we start a new school year. Stay safe and healthy out there. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

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