Posted Date: 10/28/2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
When once we were unsure if Sikeston R-6 would even be able to have the first day of school in the traditional in-person setting, to now be able to say we’ve made it through the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year is nothing short of a miracle. However, this endeavor wasn’t something that just happened. This was truly the makings of a very determined school district and community.
Our Reopening Planning Committee made an informed plan which stretched everyone to the lengths of their comfort zones and workload. Our staff have been amazing, having been asked to do far more this year to keep our students and staff safe and as healthy as possible, both mentally and physically. Our parents, wherever they landed on the spectrum of concern, have been asked to meet in the middle and make compromises in so many ways for the benefit of all of our students and not just their own.
Because of all of this hard work and dedication, Sikeston R-6 is one of the few schools in Southeast Missouri that has not had to close our doors, change to a hybrid plan, or completely shut down athletics. That’s not to say there weren’t times when we were concerned that we might have to do one or all of them. The amount of contact quarantine we’ve had to enforce to keep the amount of positive cases down in our schools has been hard on our students and emotionally difficult on our Fall athletes for sure. These quarantines, along with the other precautions such as mask wearing, social distancing, and deep cleaning, have been the main reasons for us to be finishing up our 10th week of athletics and in person schooling. This year has not been without issues though. We’ve had some ups and downs with our food service, though we’ve since canceled our contract with our current vendor, SFE, and our district is going through the RFP (request for proposals) and bid process for a new one as we speak. We expect to have a new food service vendor by the beginning of January 2021. Meanwhile, SFE has made alterations to their meal options and serving styles. We believe this has helped our students and calmed the minds of our parents.
We’ve also struggled with mental health issues due to the quarantining of our students and the overwhelming workload on our staff. This was something our parents and students reported early on into the school year, and our staff took notice and agreed that we had to act quickly and provide resources to help our students. We’ve since hired retired school counselors to make contact with every student/parent who are in quarantine to give a mental wellness check. If the child needs further help, they are being referred to our community partnerships with Bootheel Counseling and SEMO Health Network. Through these partnerships, our students have a plethora of resources to help make sure they focus on their mental health. Our administrators also reported many instances of staff distress, so through our Trauma Informed Initiative, we’ve provided time and encouragement to our staff to focus on themselves and their mental wellness. Self care is being stressed throughout the district. Much like the example on airplanes, if oxygen masks are required, adults are asked to put theirs on first so they can then provide assistance to children, we need our staff to take care of themselves first so they can continue to provide our students with the level of quality education and care that Sikeston R-6 expects.
Though we’ve had issues, not unlike any other school year, we’ve had so many great things happening throughout the district. Our students are thriving and have so many new opportunities for extended learning. Our new science curriculum, Project Lead the Way, provides our students and staff with materials for hands-on learning and encourages higher learning through conversation, cause and effect, and exciting experiments.
Our new reading intervention program, Achieve 3000, builds an ongoing data portfolio for each student in our district and customizes future lessons to challenge them on their individual level instead of a classwide level. This will help identify students who need interventions in reading at an earlier stage in their education. Google Classroom is our greatest tool for allowing students to stay engaged and invested in their learning whether they are out due to isolation, an illness, or any other absence. While our Senior High has been most adept at using it, some of our other school buildings are just becoming accustomed to how it works. It’s been a process and our staff are still working hard to provide all daily work to Google Classroom. While it hasn’t been easy getting all students, staff, and even parents accustomed to it, we find great benefit in this option and will continue using Google Classroom to help our students.
Finally, we are incredibly proud of and excited about the progress on our bond issue. Thanks to the Sikeston voters, our students will have a new Lee Hunter Elementary and a new “C” Building on the Senior High campus. These buildings are vital in the education and safety of our students and staff.
Our design team at Fleming Architects have been with us on several past constructions, and we are thankful for their continued support of our district. They truly listen to our staff, administrators, and board members when making the designs and give us plenty of options so that we can use our tax dollars in the best way possible.
Our construction management team at Navigate Building Solutions have truly been beneficial to our district by helping us to make meaningful decisions on the designs of our buildings, providing cost cutting solutions that still keep the integrity of the safety and design, and provide an up to the minute cost and progress analysis to our administration and board members on a weekly basis.
While most of the progress thus far has been decision making, design solutions, and bid processes, we are assured we will see demolition at the Lee Hunter site very soon. We are incredibly grateful to our community for providing these two schools to our students and staff. They deserve the safest, technologically advanced learning environment possible.
We appreciate our entire community for the support and understanding we’ve been given throughout this school year so far. It truly takes a caring and committed community to get this far. Thank you, Sikeston.