Update from Principal Mattix
July 27, 2020
Dear McKean Community,
Here is a Late-July update from our staff who is working this summer to plan for a successful fall, no matter what scenario the Governor tells us to follow for our return to school. Before I forget, please note that we will have at least one administrator or secretary covering the office Mon-Fri from 7:30a-3:30p until school re-opens. Also, please note that I expect some more information coming from the district directly after the Governor announces his decision.
During these intense times, the news is filled with inconsistent progress of mitigating the COVID-19 virus (the opening and re-closing of local economies) and a racial reckoning across our country. All of this intensity is happening while we are still uncertain about how we will welcome students back this fall. I just wanted our families to know that we have at least 30 staff, who are technically off for the summer, committed to regular meetings to help our administration team plan for success. Most summers, we have teams planning for the fall. However, I’d like to shine a light on two specific groups: Our Summer Think Tank Team and our Diversity Committee.
Our Summer Think Tank Team is working within the same framework that both the state and district teams are working. We are planning for all 3 re-opening scenarios, so we are ready to move forward once the Governor shares his decision. Since the state released its guidance last week, we have been using that to guide our planning. We are working on revisions to typical procedures like arrival/dismissal, Grab&Go Breakfast carts instead of filling the cafeteria, different lunch room procedures and a variety of spaces, 1-way hallway traffic, process to visit the nurse, process to request a hall pass, and schoolwide assigned seats. I would say we are over-preparing until we know the Governor’s decision, then we will focus our energy in that direction. We recognize that some families will request a remote option, due to specific family circumstances and risk factors, regardless what the Governor says. We are preparing to offer flexible options to support our families. At this point, I cannot announce anything officially as we are preparing district-wide expectations while we await further direction from the state.
McKean’s Diversity Committee has taken on a more significant role in planning for the fall in light of the increased awareness on inequities across our country, our state, and within the context of our school. For starters, I am very aware that in spite of our school’s student population being racially balanced (approximately 30% Hispanic, Black, and White, and 1% Asian); that our staff racial diversity is NOT as balanced (approx 4% Hispanic, 22% Black, 72% White, and 2% Asian). We believe it is our role as educators to create safe and brave spaces, where productive conversations can happen around issues of racial injustice or the need for greater equity. We can see how some of our nation’s leadership is struggling to have helpful dialogue around these topics. We want to improve the future by helping the next generation be more comfortable having uncomfortable discussions about their experiences with racism. We want to teach our students how to grow into being strong allies for our colleagues, students, and friends who are part of a marginalized group. And to be clear, our Diversity Committee is looking beyond skin color when we consider marginalized groups. We also want to be inclusive for our school community members who are LGTBQ and who have intellectual disabilities and any other minority group. There is a lot of positive energy from this committee and we are developing a vision statement for our group. In the fall, we are excited to add parents and students to our diversity committee...more details will come later. Additionally, I’ve included information that the district shared earlier with all families and staff of how we can create safe spaces to have brave conversations about race and inequities in our world. This is information that families can review and begin having discussions at home. You can find the information by following this link: Creating a Brave Space
Finally, I will be hosting a parent meeting via zoom this Wednesday night (July 29 at 6-7pm). The zoom information can be found on McKean’s website. I wanted to give parents a chance to ask questions and share their concerns. I may not be in a position to answer everything with certainty, but opening this dialogue can only help.
Thomas McKean High School