APPLEGATE: Niles schools return for the 2020-21 school year

With the 2020-21 school year underway, we are seeing the plans that the Niles Community Schools teachers, staff and administrators worked so hard on come together.

In any other school year, it would have been three months since we had last seen our students. However, given the statewide closures in the spring, this was the first time that we were seeing many of our students in over five months. We were thrilled to see a lot of happy faces during the return to school, and it feels invigorating to have students and staff back in the classroom.

We also welcomed many students back through our Virtual Vikings program. We want to thank our Virtual Vikings families for remaining flexible and understanding throughout this process as we all get acclimated to the new system.

We continue to focus on how to best serve our students and staff. In person, we are pleased with the district’s robust safety and cleaning protocols, and we were able to adjust a few to be even more efficient. We will continue to monitor and assess all of the district’s safety initiatives on a regular basis.

As a district, we strive to be as transparent and communicative as possible. We will continue to share helpful links and resources on social media, and we will share pertinent parent updates via email and phone. One of the ways we are further demonstrating transparency is through our COVID-19 dashboard. Each week, the district will report the number of students and staff members who have tested positive or are in quarantine, both that week and year-to-date. The dashboard will be shared each Friday afternoon, and we will be working closely with the health department upon notification of a positive case.

We continue to work closely with our Virtual Vikings families as we navigate online learning together. Nearly 20 percent of our student body opted for the Virtual Vikings program, and we look forward to providing a high-quality education with the help of our partners at Lincoln Learning and Edgenuity. We have hosted a number of question and answer sessions and webinars to help families get on board, and we will continue to provide these resources throughout the school year.

We appreciate the community’s support as we move forward in the 2020-21 school year. Whether joining us in-person or virtually, we are proud of our students, families, teachers and staff for their hard work over the past month. We look forward to a successful and safe school year together. Thank you, and as always, Go Vikes!

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