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Miracle Clerical...

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This Wednesday, April 21, marks the annual Administrative Professionals Day. The title can take on many forms; secretary, clerical, assistant, etc., however, the work remains the same and the challenges don't change with the title. Each and every day, the clerical staff of the Rome City School District rises to the occasion to support our staff, students, families, and community. While many people will go above and beyond, I can honestly say that our clerical staff have always been at the front of the line asking, "what else can I do" or "what can I learn." They are the front lines for all of our buildings, often having to carefully maneuver through difficult phone calls and helping our families and community understand various aspects of a school district. At least daily, these individuals are treated with extreme disrespect and met with phone calls that are littered with profanity, insults, and threats. The job is not as easy as one would suspect, and our enti

Welcome Back (Again)...

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It has been an extremely long and challenging 13 months, but here we are on the eve of welcoming back students to our schools for full-time in-person learning. Ironically, although we have had some students in school throughout the year and we are coming out of spring break, it still feels like the first day of school. As expected, there are emotions that encompass the entire spectrum from the most joyful possible, to the most anxious possible. Late this past Friday, the New York State Department of Health released updated guidance on the reopening of schools in our State. As expected, they largely adopted the most recent CDC recommendations, which will allow our schools to operate with minimal restrictions. As we move through the coming days, the district will be re-releasing our reopening plan to ensure that our community has access to the new, updated requirements. For a copy of the most recent NYSDOH guidance, please visit their website at:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/defaul

Spring Back...

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Just over a full calendar year later, schools throughout the country are poising to return students back to in-person learning opportunities five days per week. For some students/families, this is a much awaited time and comes with tremendous joy. For others, this increases anxiety, concern, and stress. As we have learned throughout this entire situation, there is no solution that solves the issue for everyone and there is nothing that can be done that can help everyone feel comfortable. Nonetheless, following the Spring break next week, the Rome City School District will reopen for full-time in-person instruction on Monday, April 12, 2021. In the coming week, as we all prepare for students to come back to school full-time, there will be questions that arise and concerns that need to be addressed. Currently, the most common question we continue to receive are: Can my student continue with remote learning for the rest of this year?  The answer to this question is yes. Remote learning ca

So Now What...

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Well, it is safe to say that the last week has flooded public schools with information and left most people asking someone (if not themselves), "Now What?". Between adjustments to the CDC guidance on public schools to the Oneida County strategies on what they call "ideal" situations, there is a lot of valid questions being raised by all parties. The CDC guidance is certainly the most promising bit of new information that we have seen in a long time. While there is a lot to read in totality, the CDC's summary of recent changes to their Operational Strategies includes: Revised physical distancing recommendations to reflectat least 3 feet in classrooms between students and provide clearer guidance when greater distance (such as 6 feet) is recommended. Clarified that ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities. Removed recommendation for plastic barriers. Clarified the role of community transmission in decision-making. Added gui

Inching Closer...

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Over the past few weeks, the conversations around returning students to a full in-person learning experience have intensified throughout the country and the state. Infection rates are down, vaccines are available, the CDC has issued new guidance, elected officials are making statements that kids need to be in school, and all signs are pointing in a good direction. However, there has also been no new official direction from the New York State Health Department and/or the State Education Department. We are told not to expect any changes from their August 2020 guidance, despite the fact that we all know that a lot has changed. So, where does that leave us? While it may leave us slightly in limbo, we do know that there are options to bring more students back to school. The largest hurdles continue to be social distancing requirements and transportation, but many agencies are claiming that you can reduce the 6-foot distance by adding a barrier between students. If all students in Rome were

One Year Later...

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It is odd to sit here and realize that the end of this week will mark one full year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This last year has brought more challenges than most anyone could have ever expected to encounter. It has also brought some successes as we have seen what can happen when people work together and think differently in the interest of kids. A year ago, no one realized what we were about to engage in. No one knew how or if this COVID-19 thing would affect our personal lives. The entire region shut down and turned into a ghost town. I can remember driving to work through the months of March and April last year and enjoying seeing another car on the road. It was surreal. In that same moment of people not knowing the dangers, or not knowing what to expect, people answered the challenge of finding a way to help our kids learn. I can remember our first administrators' meeting of the pandemic that occurred on a Sunday, lasted roughly 3 hours, and the administrators h

It's JUST Education...

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A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to welcome a guest speaker to Rome who spoke about diversity and working to understand how it is important to recognize the background of your students when trying to educate them. This speaker was nationally renowned principal, Baruti Kafele. He regularly goes by "Principal Kafele" and is best known for his work as a principal in the inner city schools of New Jersey and his professional development programs centered on educating black students and social justice. Recently, I had an opportunity to listen to Principal Kafele speak again at as part of the district's joint-equity efforts with the Rome Teacher's Association and he spoke about the definition of social justice education, from his perspective. He defines social justice education as: "the ongoing student-centered exploration, examination, and assessment of the world upon which your students exist through their own lens . It's an interdisciplinary critical an