Looking ahead to the next school year

Looking ahead to the next school year

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It is hard to believe that summer vacation is here and we are making plans at New Dimensions to hopefully welcome our students back to school on Sept. 1. One of the most pressing questions we are all asking is “will we come back to school in the fall and if we do, what will school look like?”

We do know that all schools in North Carolina will need to develop three plans for possible reopening:

» 1-Minimal social distancing.

» 2-Moderate social distancing.

» 3-Complete remote learning.

New Dimensions is fortunate that the size of our classrooms in conjunction with our reduced class size in grades K-5 (1:16) would allow us to operate at 50 percent capacity and still accommodate all students who are currently projected to be enrolled.

This, along with additional guidelines, allows us to fully comply with plan 1 or plan 2.

The New Dimensions Reopening Task Force is working on the most appropriate and safest way to return to in school instruction in the fall without our school resembling a prison. This task force is made up of board members, parents, community members and staff. Many great ideas and suggestions have been generated by this group.

The 2020-21 school year at New Dimensions will look a little different than what it did in past years. The most significant adjustment will be the opportunity for parents to choose between face-to-face instruction and remote instruction. This hybrid model will allow families to select which method best serves the needs of their family. The hybrid instruction model at New Dimensions will provide for the following:

» The plan will be different from the remote learning that was done in the spring.

» Students would be required to follow along with the teacher. Students would get breaks and specials with students who are physically in the class.

» Students would be in the class but virtually.

» Attendance will be counted remotely just as it would in a seated class.

» Assignments will be provided and returned in Google Classroom (Grades 2-8) or Seesaw (Grades K-1).

To make our school as safe as possible for students, staff and guests the following guidelines will be implemented:

» Face masks will be optional for students.

» Students and staff will have temperature checks when entering the school as well as reviewing the symptoms checklist.

» Plans will be in place to strategically place vulnerable populations away or distanced from others.

» Visitors and guests will be screened and a special area for guests to eat with students will be designated.

» Students will go to the cafeteria with only their grade level to have lunch.

» Students will go to recess by class. Classes will rotate between the athletic field, blacktop, and playground.

» Each classroom will have a touchless thermometer as well as the receptionist area and student entry areas.

The following changes will be made to the school building and classrooms:

» A special disinfecting and sanitizing system will be applied before students and staff returns.

» Our custodial staff will continue to frequently clean with an approved cleaner. Our cleaners meet the requirements of the NCDHHS. High touch/high traffic areas will be cleaned more often.

» Touchless water dispensers to fill individual water bottles have been installed.

» Individual desks have been purchased so we can social distance in the classroom.

» Floor decals for social distancing will be utilized.

» Plexiglas barriers will be installed on the sink areas in the restrooms.

This summer, New Dimensions has had the good fortune to partner with the YMCA to provide a day camp for students in our community. Students can enroll weekly and there are still open slots for any interested family. Just give us a call at the school at 828-437-5753.

Next year, New Dimensions is anticipating over 375 students to be enrolled in our school. I want to take this time to thank our entire community for their support of our school and each student we serve. When we recruit teachers to our school, we share with them the support we receive from parents, businesses, and community.

I encourage each student this year to set goals this year to make this the best year they have ever had, to work hard, and to get involved a school. I also appreciate the way our students represent our school and encourage them to continue to take the lessons they have learned at home, in the faith community, and at school to be good citizens in our community. It is always encouraging to hear the positive stories of how graduates of New Dimensions make a difference in our community and in the lives of others.

My hope and prayer is that this school year will be the best ever for our school and for each student we serve. If we, as a school, can help you, we want to hear from you. We have an open-door policy, and we encourage you to visit with us at your convenience. If you are unable to stop by our office, please feel free to call me. I would love to discuss your concerns and suggestions regarding our school. We are always open to ideas on how we can better serve our community. Thank you for your support of our school and our children. I am honored to serve as your school director.

With everything all of us have been faced with in terms of COVID-19 restrictions, economic downturns, budget cuts, budget uncertainty, and school closure, we have experienced incredible accomplishments and it is due to dedicated people, positive attitudes and community support.

Please accept a thank you from me on behalf of the New Dimensions School for all you do to help make our school successful. I am looking forward to the new year and working with the greatest educational team ever as well as our community partners.

David Burleson is director of News Dimensions School.

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