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BRUSD Update re: Home-based Student Instruction 4/3/2020

April 3, 2020

The following provides an update regarding the District’s efforts to support home-based student instruction:

As a result of the successful 2016 bond election to provide, among other things, 1:1 computer access, for all students, the District purchased several hundred Chromebooks, placing them in classrooms districtwide in 2017. Recently, we redeployed these units to support online content for grades 7-12. Notably, these devices can be managed remotely by our technology experts, ensuring each receives updated software enhancements.

Ideally, all students would be assigned a Chromebook, and that’s our ultimate goal. However, even if funds were available to purchase the remaining devices needed to supply every student, these units are in high demand and mostly unavailable. Even so, we have pulled forward remaining bond funds reserved for future technology purchases to enable us to order more. However, these units are likely months out from delivery.

I apologize in advance for any frustration experienced by this delay. Admittedly, despite our schools’ preparation for a wide range of natural disasters and emergencies, I did not contemplate a global pandemic.

The District’s remaining computers are laptop units that cannot be adequately supported remotely. Therefore, we made some tough decisions as to the assignment of our available technology.

Within our assessment, the two essential components of data considered were: first, which students have access to the internet, and secondly, how many have computers at home? About one third have neither. And, with consideration paid to factors such as curriculum content, student maturity, and other elements, we allocated limited resources as best we could. Hotspots were also acquired to provide WIFI connectivity for those lacking internet access.

Please note, it’s imperative to update all contact information annually. Despite significant effort, many parents/guardians could not be reached to determine their student’s needs. Parents/guardians, please provide and maintain accurate contact information.

Next, given COVID-19 now impacts our town, additional safety precautions have been taken, some of which include enhancements to our social distancing protocols. Therefore, effective immediately, all hard copy packet materials are distributed only via U.S. mail, and all BR facilities remain closed to the public.

Furthermore, changes in the delivery of free meals are also under consideration. There is tension between our desire to continue serving food while also keeping everyone safe. Consequently, delivery adjustments may occur in the coming weeks. Even so, we will continue to strive to meet both the educational and nutritional needs of our students.

A special Governing Board meeting will occur April 7, 2020, at 5:00 PM to conduct district business, including the approval of contracts for certified employees. This meeting will be accessible to the public via Facebook and streamed live and a recording placed on the District’s website. While it is your legal right to attend in person, doing so is strongly discouraged, given the Governor’s recent Executive order.

Finally, I wish to thank our teachers, support staff, and administrators for their preparedness, flexibility, and complete engagement within our efforts to support home-based learning. Thank you, parents and guardians, for working so diligently to ensure our students are completing and returning their lessons.

Importantly, I also recognize many are suffering economic hardships. Even more troubling has been the loss of life. My heart and prayers go out to anyone suffering the loss of a loved one or a job. I accept the weight of my responsibilities and apologize for the areas in which I have surely fallen short. Thank you for your patience and consideration during these most difficult days. Rest assured, every member of the Blue Ridge family remains steadfast in our commitment to our students and community.


Respectfully,

Mike Wright