COVID-19 has brought many changes for the 2020-21 school year. One change we have made throughout the district is not allowing visitors to come inside any of our schools. In previous years we have used diligent security procedures to ensure our visitors were identified and checked in through the front office, then permitted guest speakers, community readers, parents joining students for lunch, grandparents enjoying a special celebration, volunteers helping on school campuses, and many more visitors to our schools throughout the year. This year though, it just makes sense to limit and control the number of people our students and teachers are around each day. So, we are denying access beyond the front office area of our schools to nearly all outside visitors.

In the meantime, though, we want our parents and community members to know they are still welcome and still needed as part of our school family. Just because you cannot be a physical presence inside the school building does not mean you cannot support your students, their teachers and staff, and the school/district as a whole. Your support is crucial this year, more than ever.

Here are just a few ways you can continue to support our Conway Public Schools:

Please don’t stop being involved in your student’s school experience. Even in a “normal year,” parent involvement is essential for students to be successful in school. This year, students are seeing new digital platforms, adjusted daily schedules, and additional safety procedures, all while navigating life as a young person during a global pandemic. They need your help. Sit with your virtual student, even if they are in high school, and ask questions about the assignments. Look over your child’s homework at night and ask questions about what they are learning and how they are learning it. Ask them how school is different this year and what they think about it. Communicate with their teachers. Work together to make this year not only different, but special.

Look for the opportunities that are available this year. Yes, many of the annual/traditional volunteer opportunities at school will not happen this year. But there are some that have adapted to be “no contact-” collections of donations for students or online opportunities. In these first few weeks of school, one CPSD parent rallied local businesses and other supporters together to purchase nearly 1200 reusable water bottles for students all across the district. Such a tremendous and appreciated effort!

Be patient. Last week, a technical mishap in the state of Texas wreaked complete havoc on our district’s internet services. All of a sudden, no one- virtual students, onsite students, or employees- had a reliable internet connection. This, of course, is not the only challenge any of us have faced this school year. 2020 seems destined to teach us that we are not in control.. Patience can be hard to come by in stressful situations, yet it is the best and most helpful thing for all of us.

Encourage and support a teacher you know. Being a teacher is a tough job. Being a teacher during COVID is even tougher. Individuals who go into teaching are hardly ever characterized by traits like laziness, apathy, or fear. Instead, teachers are the world changers. The ones who don’t quit until the work is done, even if it takes all day and night. They don’t accept “no,” “I can’t,” or “oh well” from their students, or from themselves. They don’t back down from challenges, because they know their example is so important. Because of this, our teachers are tired. They are working hard- too hard sometimes. Please come alongside us and love them well this year.

Remain positive. You don’t have to look hard or far in this current climate to find anger, hate or negativity toward someone or something. In situations where things are unknown, uncomfortable, or contentious, it’s easy to be critical of ourselves or each other. Instead of assigning blame, give grace. None of us have ever done this before. All of us are trying our best. Finding out what “doesn’t work” usually leads to figuring out what works best if we don’t lose hope or give up.

Wait for better days. They are coming! We will not remain socially-restricted forever; nor will we continue living under the conditions of COVID precautions we find ourselves today. If we work together, support each other and our students, and take things day by day, maybe we will see those days soon!

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