Michael L. Sawyers
As the summer continues, preparations are underway across the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus to welcome all of our students and staff back to school by mid-August.
When I mention “all” students, that means in addition to our in-person students from last school year, we will also welcome back 1,274 students that learned from home for all of last school year. Our estimated enrollment to begin the 2021-22 school year in August is 5,065 in grades PK-12.
Our district purpose is to create a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student. We know that the pandemic roller coaster ride for school attendance and more created challenges for everyone.
However, it also provided opportunities for our school district to create structures and solutions to truly meet the needs of our students in many different ways, both academically and socially-emotionally.
Our 2021-22 school year will begin with a staggered start for the first two days of school for students in grades 1-12. Approximately half of our students enrolled in grades 1-12 will attend their first day of school on Aug. 19 (last names A-K) or Aug. 20 (last names L-Z).
This staggered start will permit our staff to personally connect with students in smaller groups to learn and practice protocols and processes, especially knowing that nearly 33% of them did not attend school “in-person” last school year and may be transitioning between school buildings, too.
Our preschool and kindergarten students will continue their staggered start into the first full week of school, as they always do, to fulfill required assessment protocols to begin their exciting educational journey.
We are planning for a “normal” school year based upon current information known. Although the school district will maintain some operational lessons learned that benefited students in our school last year – examples include one-way stairwells, lunch procedures, access to hand sanitizer – other health and safety protocols required during the pandemic will be determined should health or governmental officials implement a new order impacting schools.
As always, we will do our part to ensure that our school campus remains safe for everyone. More detailed information will be published to families as part of our back-to-school information or as learned.
In addition to family vacations, ball games, bike riding, swimming and fun for our students and families, summer recess provides an opportunity for us to continue to implement necessary capital repairs and replacements to sustain our beautiful school facilities and campus.
Some of our summer projects underway include replacing original chillers installed at our Primary School and Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, concrete sidewalk replacements and repairs, LED retrofitting, painting, vinyl-floor and carpet replacement, MS/HS cafeteria equipment, exterior doors, security cameras and more. All of these replacements are part of our capital-repair and replacement schedule funded by the permanent-improvements levy approved in 2017 and general-revenue fund dollars set aside by the administration and school board.
As the days of July continue to pass, August will arrive and the school campus will become busier with each passing day as we approach the start of the next school year filled with the sounds of student voices buzzing through the hallways, courts, fields and
The 2021-22 school year will provide an opportunity for us to continue our efforts to Own Our “R” (Response) while also striving to improve to build an inclusive campus culture in which everyone feels safe, supported and connected. Together, as a community, we will engage in open dialogue to determine how we can continuously improve for the betterment of everyone, especially our children.
For now, enjoy the remaining days of summer recess as the anticipation and excitement of the 2021-22 school year arrive. Enjoy your family, friends and last-minute getaways as we continue to finalize our plans to welcome more than 5,000 Eagles to the learning campus.
Michael L. Sawyers is superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.