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LETTER — Some insight from a CCPS teacher

Around this time of year, teachers around the county are usually squeezing in their final vacation days. However, this is a summer unlike any other.  Many of our teachers have been on webinars, reading various resources, and recording lessons to prepare for an upcoming school year that is unique and quite uncertain. In Charlotte County where school is the center of the community for many areas of childhood growth and development beyond academics, the community remains split on the return to school plan proposed and approved by our school board.

As a teacher at Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS), I think the plan is the best we have for our community. It allows our students to receive instruction in person with some distance learning – much like the expectations of teachers assigning homework. In addition, the plan also gives parents and caregivers an option to choose all virtual learning if they have concerns about COVID-19, the schedules, or a child’s medical needs which may place them at greater risk. 

As neighboring communities unfold their plans, we can become very drawn to compare or to demand that our plan match or reflect others. However, it is impossible to compare because our community needs, revenue, population, and access to technology and services are all so different. 

I think that many people are fearful because it is not our “normal” routine, and we have so many unknowns about the situation we are experiencing. We are all adjusting. I believe that Superintendent Mason took a lot of time with a team of parents, staff, and administrators to identify how we can approach this best. He has worked to get us more access to internet in the county, and through the CARES grant we have received funding to provide every child in our school division with Chromebooks or tablets. This is a huge feat given rural school inequity.  

I am a parent, as well as many of the teachers in our county. Our kids attend school in CCPS as well so we also understand what you may be feeling or experiencing. We have been just as worried and concerned as any other parent and caregiver. We are having to balance teaching and delivering instruction virtually plus helping our own children with their work too. Some, have multiple children in various grade levels like many of you. In our community, close to 30% of our households have children under the age of 18. So juggling parental responsibilities and work is the dilemma for many working parents, especially when access to affordable childcare comes into question.  

As a single parent, I am blessed to have my mother who also lives in the county as a resource for childcare. For some families, it may not be the case. It is definitely an analysis that our community leaders will need to explore. Perhaps we can have churches to step up to open up opportunities for childcare options, or even for our business development to focus on how to get childcare agencies and companies to our community. While the latter option may not be in time for the return to school, at least it can be a possibility for future use.

I also ask that parents and caregivers try to keep themselves as calm as possible during this time. Of course it’s easier said than done, but when you are faced with challenges to learning such as limited interaction, the pandemic and health concerns, and limited access to technology, the last thing we want to add is discourse between home and school. We have to remember we are all on the same team, and in order to get to the same goal or finish line we have to work together, not against each other.

I am looking forward to seeing all of our students return to Randolph-Henry. Regardless of how you plan to attend school, I expect your best, and I will give you my best. Enjoy the last month of summer break. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Most of all, stay focused and committed to doing your part, and we will take care of the rest. 

Monique Williams

Randolph-Henry High School

Teacher, Girls Basketball Coach, and BLOG Advisor