Our world at the Murray City School District (MCSD) changed Thursday morning at about 8:00 am as we learned of a potential close contact to COVID-19 within our district. This was our moment to shrink or shine – and we chose the latter.
Our charge as educators is to protect students and staff from anything that would compromise their ability to do what they do. And this was a clear threat.
So we did.
We immediately announced the dismissal of in-class learning and deployed our online program. Like other school districts and citizens, we had been discussing contingencies and making preparations for several weeks. In fact, we had planned to use our snow makeup day on March 27 as a test day we dubbed Digital Home Learning Day. As it turns out, that date had to be moved up to go live in less than 24 hours.
The message we want to share from the Murray City School District to parents and students across Utah is that you got this. We are now one full academic day into our dismissal. All other school districts will be launching into online learning this week. We thought it helpful to show our work and share what we have learned.
The outpouring of support from Murray parents and students can’t be understated. We’ve received report after report of appreciation and a genuine “we got this” spirit. Yes, there are some who have questions and issues, but they’ve been very manageable. As Governor Gary Herbert and Superintendent Sydnee Dickson announced Friday afternoon, our digital district doors will be open Monday to support parents, students, and staff.
We’ve also witnessed a very touching display of kindness as businesses, organizations, and citizen volunteers have stepped forward to help fill in the gaps of what people need. Everything from free high-speed internet access to running errands for those who can’t. We have one District employee who is taking the time each night to reduce anxiety among children, reading stories to them over Facebook live.
Schoolwork is getting done. Kids and teachers are communicating and collaborating using the tools we have in place. These are tools most or all districts across Utah and other states have been using for some time. We have reports of elementary students showing their parents how they access the homework and parents learning for the first time just how adaptable their children really are to technology.
Sack lunches are being served daily between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Children ages 0-18 can participate in this program. The schools are being cleaned and disinfected, minimizing any potential exposure to COVID-19.
These are just a handful of some of the details MCSD team rapidly deployed and experienced between Thursday and Friday morning – just 24 hours. Do we still have things to resolve and questions to answer? Absolutely. But what we are reminded of is that communities rally in times of crisis. People are setting aside differences that divide to pick up solutions that unite.
Again, to the parents and students across our state: These are very uncertain times, but we hope you can get a glimpse of what we have witnessed within just 24 short hours.
You got this! We got this!