- Spartanburg District Five
Important Message From The Superintendent
As we near the close of our 3rd week of school, I want to thank you for your patience and partnership as we’ve navigated a difficult and unique start to this school year. As I’ve visited classrooms and walked the halls of our schools these past few weeks, I’ve been so proud to see the amazing learning and engagement that is taking place across our campuses. Our students and staff are excited to be back together, and their enthusiasm shows! Our teachers and staff are working hard to teach our students and ensure their daily success, and for that, I’m so grateful.
I think we all hoped that this school year would be much different than the last 18 months, and that the challenges of COVID-19 would be mostly behind us. The reality is: those challenges are far worse this year. COVID has had an alarming impact on the health of our students and staff, and put a significant strain on our District Five staff and resources. As I write this letter, more than 10% of our staff members, on average, have been absent this week. A substitute shortage has left us unable to fill half of those positions. Our student absentee rate this week has hovered just under 20% districtwide: that’s 1 in every 5 students. This greatly concerns me for a number of reasons. When students are not in school, it disrupts the classroom environment, makes it difficult on teachers, and most importantly, it severely Impacts student learning.
So, I’m writing this letter with a plea. WE NEED YOUR HELP. District Five, like so many other school districts, is fighting an uphill battle, and right now, COVID-19 is winning.
I know there are many thoughts and opinions on the subject of masks and vaccines. I respect those opinions, and I’m not here to debate either side. As Superintendent of District Five Schools, it is my job to protect the safety and health of our precious students and staff. We all DESPERATELY want to keep students in school, but our current struggles are not sustainable. Here’s what I’m asking: PLEASE CONSIDER HAVING YOUR CHILD WEAR A MASK AT SCHOOL. As the leader of this district, I’ll be asking our District Five staff members to wear a mask as well. This is especially important in our elementary schools, where students are still too young to be vaccinated. On that note, if you have not received the vaccine, please listen to the warnings from our local medical experts, and consider getting your shot.
I respectfully ask these things on behalf of every child and member of our District Five family. Our district nurses are struggling to keep up with COVID cases, our teachers are working harder than they’ve ever had to, and every staff member is feeling the strain that this virus has placed on our school system. COVID is taking a toll on our schools and community, but I firmly believe, by working together we can slow the spread and keep our children and staff safe and healthy. If we collectively do these things, it will greatly increase the likelihood of keeping our schools open.
WE MUST ALL DO OUR PART.
As we have done throughout this pandemic, District Five promises to remain transparent, and report our processes and protocols to our community. You can view our current cases and quarantines on our COVID-19 dashboard, which is located on the homepage of our district website, at www.spart5.net.
Thank you for your consideration and understanding during these tough times. I sincerely pray you and your family stay healthy and well.
Randall R. Gary Ed.D.