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SRCS 3/12/21 Update: One Year Later
Posted 3/11/21

One Year Later

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community,

It’s been almost one year since SRCS announced on March 13 that we would be moving from in-person to remote learning. Since that time, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 29 million COVID cases have been reported in the US and nearly 525,000 people have died as a result. Across the world, at least 117 million people have been infected and 2.6 million have died. In California, we have had over 3.5 million confirmed cases and more than 54,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What these numbers don’t convey is the enormous amount of grief, loss of hope, anxiety and depression that have beset almost all of us at one time or another during this pandemic, nor the human toll that the disease has tragically taken on so many of our family, friends and community members. I recently saw a photo of a friend of mine who is a superintendent and retiring this year, and the look of sadness on his face actually made me cry. Educators in particular have felt the stress of being caught between those that want to come back in-person and those that prefer to stay remote, all while trying to do their best to meet the many, many needs of our students and families.

The isolation and sense of being disconnected from friends that has hit our students is very real, and it will take us a long time to recover from the trauma. It will take years to make up for not only this social emotional impact, but also the academic losses, despite the Herculean efforts of our educators, students and parents to adapt to remote learning and create a sense of community no matter what the medium. Everyone is exhausted and in need of some relief, which fortunately really seems like it’s on the horizon. 

At this point, all SRCS employees have been offered an opportunity to receive the COVID vaccine, which is providing a well-deserved sense of security and safety. We’re grateful to Marin Health and Human Services and the Marin County Office of Education for coordinating “Super Saturday” events for teachers and staff from across the county. These local opportunities, along with employees being eligible to access the vaccine in places like pharmacies and distribution events throughout the Bay Area, have allowed us to reach this important milestone. Personally, I received my first shot last Saturday at the Marin Center, and I feel optimistic and relieved that we are heading in the right direction. I know many throughout our community are also looking forward to their turn. 

I am so appreciative of our teachers and staff for agreeing to come back to school before they received the vaccine; our elementary teachers have been in-person with students since November. Last week and this week, our middle and high school students returned to learn about safety procedures, and it was so heartwarming to see them back on campus and to see the joy in their eyes. For our sixth and ninth graders, most of them had never even been on the school campus before! The middle school hybrid schedule is now underway, and the high school hybrid schedule will start next week. 

Furthermore, Marin is making steady progress on reaching the Orange Tier, which will mean our elementary students will move to the modified day schedule, more than doubling the amount of in-school time each week. Looking ahead even further, we’re planning to transition to much more “normal” schedules for all our schools when Marin is in Yellow Tier and no sooner than May 1. 

Yesterday, Congress passed a COVID relief bill, which was signed by President Biden today, and California will receive another $15 billion for K-12 school re-openings, so more federal help is on the way. California has also recently passed legislation to spur more reopening of schools and to address learning loss and has allocated $4.6 billion to assist schools. This one-time money will help us with summer and after-school programs, technology, professional development, mental health support, facilities issues and so many other needs. We will be using the upcoming Joint Budget Advisory Committee Meeting on March 30 to get input from staff, students and parents on how best to use these funds.

We have a ways to go and we are not out of the woods yet, but we are getting closer and are making great progress. It will take some time to recover. It is my greatest hope that we all use this crisis as an opportunity to reflect on our own lives and the choices we make, both personally and professionally, so that we can be better and do better. Certainly in education there is much we can and must do differently if we are to address the inequities that have been compounded by COVID. But for today, let’s say a word of thanks that we are almost there and go out of our way to be understanding and empathetic to each other - we all deserve a little kindness after all of this!

Sincerely,

Jim Hogeboom
Superintendent