Dear Parents, Faculty and Staff,
I hope this update finds you, your family and your loved ones healthy and safe. While there has been talk of phased-in reopenings of businesses, we have not gotten an update from the governor about when schools can reopen. This is likely due to our limited ability to effectively social distance. Some folks are discouraged by this, but I am not — this gives us the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and best practices of other states so that we have the best chance to do so safely and productively. That’s not to say I am not frustrated with how long our schools have been without students, because I am frustrated. But I also recognize the wisdom in a gradual and deliberate plan for reopening. It allows more time for treatment and vaccine development.
Although there has been a daily influx of national and state news related to the coronavirus, some positive and some tragic, my personal highlights of the week involve three pieces of positive news right here in Rotterdam.
First is the major outpouring of donations to MohonCARES coming from community members, teachers, administrators and local churches. Donations on our GoFundMe site have exceeded all expectations and sit just below $6,000 as of Friday. We distributed a record amount of supplemental food Thursday and have enough funds leftover to provide more support to our families for several weeks. We will also be able to replenish each of our school’s food banks in the fall. In addition to our online fundraising, direct donations via check bring our total to approximately $7,500. And all this during a time where many of our community members are dealing with financial hardships. I am so grateful for your efforts. Wow.
Second is the Mohonasen Teachers’ Association’s (MTA) support of local first responders, medical personnel and key school groups, such as Food Services and Internet Technology. The MTA first organized the community Mohon Pride car parade and are following up with a Giving Back initiative. So far they have provided hot meals, gift cards, cards, well wishes and plenty of emotional support.
Third, I was moved by a car parade organized for a Mohonasen teacher who just finished her last round of chemotherapy, successfully completing the first phase of her battle with cancer. For those experiencing medical difficulties during this time of no visitors and isolation, I imagine thoughts of despair can quickly close in. Yet love finds a way to manifest itself through the darkness, through the actions and support of friends. Love wins.
I would like to thank the great many of you who submitted letters (emails) to your federal senators and representatives on Mohonasen’s behalf earlier this week. For those of you who have yet to do so, the opportunity is still there. Just click this link: Call to Action and enter your name and home address and a letter/email will be generated on your behalf. As a reminder, this advocacy is aimed at ensuring New York receives additional stimulus funds for public education in the next proposed round of federal stimulus funding.
Many parents have been contacting me regarding graduation. One parent summed up the concerns I’ve been hearing about as follows, “The general consensus among parents is we want to see the kids together, physically, in one location.” I want to assure parents that we are looking at ways of providing an “in-person” graduation while still adhering to the social distancing parameters set forth by the governor. Currently there is still a ban on large group gatherings. While we are hoping that may change in the near future, we are still uncertain as to what that may look like. Many other affected states end their school year in late May or early June, so we have the benefit of seeing what creative ways others are implementing as alternatives to traditional graduation ceremonies. I have heard loud and clear from parents that a totally “virtual” or online ceremony is not what they are interested in for Mohonasen. Please rest assured that the High School Principal, Mr. Chandler, is currently working with seniors and parents of seniors to explore any and all possibilities for Mohonasen. We will not make a decision about graduation without first seeking the input of students and parents.
Finally, thank you for the many personal emails of support you have been sending my way. Knowing that parents and community members are supporting me with positive thoughts and prayers is both encouraging and edifying. Again, thank you.
Mohon Proud and Grateful,