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Guest Opinion: Reopening schools: Thank you to the community

By Staff | Sep 9, 2020

This has truly been a community effort. We just reopened one of the largest school districts in the country… and we did it together. The School District of Lee County appreciates the community’s efforts to get our students back to class, whether in-person or online. We are grateful for the understanding the community has shown us as our teachers and support staff navigate this unique school year. This letter is to thank the larger community that shared the weight of our task and assisted in any way they could. Our citizens became genuine educational stakeholders when we needed them most.

Planning and executing the reopening of schools was not an easy task and required a level of engagement that highlighted the essential bond between school district and community. It is our belief that it is this bond that will assist us as we meet the unique challenges that continue to arise. We know that the strength and success of our schools is correlated with the involvement of the community, and we know the power of what was forged from March on will allow Lee County to achieve more. Our goal is to build off the expanded connections that we developed with the community to best serve our students. Perhaps the silver lining in all this disruption is finding new ways to bridge the gap between us and develop a true community school district.

The past six months have shown us that in the face of uncertainty and closures, we can come together as a collective unit to make the necessary, not easy, decisions. There have been disagreements and debates at every turn, but the focus has always stayed on providing the safest and best learning environment for our students. From sending in suggestions to participating in Facebook Live events, our community took the time to engage and work through the reopening process. We have read your emails, seen your comments, processed your concerns, and are grateful for you joining us in this endeavor.

We have witnessed an unprecedented level of community engagement in the process to reopen schools safely. This engagement made our plans better, sharper, and with the sustained goal of making our district a world-class school system. We worked together with civic organizations, faith-based organizations, local health experts, and parent groups to ensure that our message was their message. Teachers, our superheroes that protect and teach our future, are fueled by the consistent community support they read and see. We recognize that now is not just a hard time to be a teacher but the RIGHT time to be a teacher.

It is our hope that our community engagement continues to grow beyond the pandemic, as we know our shared goal of helping each student reach his/her highest potential can only be achieved together. We appreciate those that stood with us, not passively, but joined us as we attempt to provide the highest quality of education to all of our students. Thank you again for the past five months, for this reopening week, and for standing with us as we move forward.

Dr. Greg Adkins is the superintendent for the School District of Lee County.