Dear BHRSD Community,

The last week and a half has been challenging.  I hope you and your families are doing well. I know the uncertainty of this pandemic has been hard.  I’m writing to share some updates. This is a high level letter that will raise dozens of additional questions.  We’ll get to those details in the near future.

Collectively we’ve done a great job providing meals to kids and supporting kids and families emotionally.  Special thanks to food service, custodians, teachers, counselors, principals, secretaries, technology staff, and administrators who have reached out to kids and families. Well done all!

I had hoped that we’d get clear and timely direction from the Governor and Commissioner.  They’re busy on other things including changing State laws and requirements around assessment, graduation requirements, and funding.  The Governor just announced that we will be off through at least Monday May 4th, 2020. In the meantime, I’m trying to articulate our emerging thinking about how we plan to pivot on our approach to education.  This is based on daily conferences with administrators, weekly check-ins with the Commissioner and Berkshire County superintendents, dozens of other conferences and calls, and additional check-ins with the School Committee and unions and organizations representing staff.

Here’s what I’m thinking.  The pandemic situation will likely get worse before it gets better.  We’ll need to shift our approach.  That shift will include more on-line and at-home learning and struggling through issues of access – devices and connectivity.  It will also push us, as educators, to rethink our approaches to supporting students. To date our work has focused on enrichment. Going forward we will build out a range of experiences to support continuous growth.

We’ll need to take a collective leap of faith.  Here are a few guiding ideas:

  • We’ll do our best to continue to support students and families in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
  • We’ll redirect our time and efforts to support students and families in new ways.
  • We’ll approach our work with good intentions and patience to pull this shift off.
  • Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we’ll be most effective if we do our best to both listen and communicate effectively.

So, I’m asking each of us to step up and support a very heavy lift.  I’m confident we can pull it off together. Our best efforts will play to our strengths, often in smaller teams.  We’ll support each other where we can by lending our collective expertise across many areas.

One other idea, as this all progresses, some if not all of us will struggle in a variety of ways – educationally, technologically, financially, personally, and almost certainly medically.  Let’s continue to figure out ways to support each other.

Looking forward to rising to this challenge with you.

Please feel to reach out if you questions.

Peter Dillon, Superintendent