Grace Under Pressure

This message was distributed to Jeffco Public Schools’ staff on 3.13.2020, in response to the announcement of an extended school closure for students due to the coronavirus.

Dear Colleagues,

I want to begin by expressing my deep appreciation for your professionalism, work ethic, and patience as we navigate these unprecedented waters as a school system and community.

I am not overwhelmed or paralyzed by this virus. I understand it and what we must do to face it. But, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the talent and commitment of the people working for Jeffco Public Schools. Ernest Hemingway wrote that “courage is grace under pressure.” I am proud of your courage and grace.

For our students, families, and staff members – school is a central part of our existence. For these next few weeks (and for an unknown period beyond) many aspects of our lives are going to be significantly disrupted. Life, as we know it, is going to be different. We will miss seeing our students and their families. We will miss the presence of our friends and colleagues. Cherished experiences and rites of passage may be very different or not happen at all.

This is an unwelcomed and unwanted disequilibrium. It is also an opportunity.

We are shifting to and implementing our “remote learning and work plan” for students during this period. Teachers, students, staff, and families will need to redefine how learning happens. We will need to move from a “synchronous” model (where most students are learning together) to an “asynchronous” approach (where students are learning apart and independently). We will need to shift our thinking from “seat-time” concepts of learning (where student progress is largely measured by how long they sit in class) to “competency-based” approaches (where we set forth supports, expectations, and tasks for students, and they show us how and if they mastered the concepts).

In the midst of this public health crisis, we also have the opportunity to make breakthroughs in how an entire community of children and professionals learn. We must not let this moment pass.

I know there are many questions about logistics and how our organization will continue to work through this period. To support answers to those questions, we will be sending out a “daily briefing” each weekday to resolve the most pressing issues, provide useful resources, and share ideas. You can also refer to MyJeffco and the district’s coronavirus website for the most up to date information.

Please also know that we value our employees and community and we will be taking every possible step to make Jeffco Public Schools a stabilizing force during this disruption. Our employees will continue to be paid (including hourly and substitute staff) and we are releasing a food service plan today. We are also working on ways we can continue to support our most vulnerable students and those who require specialized services.

My final ask of all of you is the extension of grace to each other, to our students, and to our families and community. All of us are going to be asked to do things we don’t necessarily understand or that are unknown. Some of us are going to have to do these things while juggling multiple life, work, and home responsibilities. Some of us are going to have to do all these things while we are sick. Love will not protect us from this virus, but it will make life a lot more tolerable in this difficult time.

Please look for continued communication in the hours and days to come – and be good to each other.

With deep respect and admiration,

Jason E. Glass, Ed.D.

Superintendent & Chief Learner

Jeffco Public Schools

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