Dear Staff, Just as we begin to be hopeful about emerging from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we now confront the tragedies of Atlanta and Boulder. The ripple effect of this grief and fear reverberates through entire communities on our campus and across the nation yet again.
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and David McKinley (WV-01) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation that will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that visual and hearing-impaired students receive the best education possible.
SNAP recipients who have had food lost or destroyed due to the storm need to apply for replacement food benefits for regular SNAP allotments and SNAP emergency allotments that were provided in response to COVID-19. SNAP recipients can also use their benefits for hot foods and ready-to-eat foods, such as rotisserie chicken or grocery store deli foods, at retailers that accept SNAP anywhere in the state.
I had hoped that at this time this year we would not still be dealing with a global pandemic, but here we are. I had hoped our kids would not miss out again and experience more losses, but here we are. Many of you are beginning to inquire about End of Year (EOY) activities, particularly parents of juniors and seniors, so let me share our current thinking with the caveat that things fluctuate daily. Many of your students are spending their spring semester either online or here at TSD with modified schedules and less after school activities, field trips and athletics. All of us, you included, have had to make difficult choices.
In the aftermath of this severe weather we are all still facing real challenges. All of you have been in my thoughts. TSD will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, February 22 and 23. Many of our facilities, maintenance, housekeeping and other classified staff will use that time to make the final repairs on campus, test of all of our water and heating systems, IT and wireless network and secure our food supplies. There will be no virtual learning on Monday and Tuesday.
At TSD, we believe that the histories, stories, and voices of Black people should be centered, honored, and uplifted in school curricula every day. We also acknowledge the importance, relevance and origins of Black History Month.
We are in the beginning of this work which we will sustain and grow over the next coming years. Our work will focus on racial justice with specific attention to issues and challenges specific to our TSD community.
Dear Parents and Families, What a trying year for all of us. Yet through these challenges we keep moving forward to serve our students, staff and families in as safe and positive a way possible. I want to thank all of you for your patience and dedication in supporting our efforts to provide virtual only services these last two weeks. We hope we have reduced the potential community spread of the virus from the holidays by taking this action.
Dear Staff, You are no doubt aware of preparations across our nation for possible threats and unrest regarding Wednesday’s Inauguration. Though all of us hope that Wednesday will mark a peaceful and celebratory transition of power, recent events at our nation’s Capitol advise us to be prepared. I want to make it clear that we have received no specific threats.
Dear Staff, Much has been written about the “disruptors” of 2020 and beyond. Education is experiencing them like no other entity or institution. In my previous email I spoke of the disruptors of COVID-19, Racial Equity/Black Lives Matter and the threat to our democracy. TSD students, staff and families are being impacted by all of these disruptors, and are still reacting to the insurrection at the Capitol last week and its aftermath bringing to light many injustices and inequities that exist in our lives.
As I watched in horror the events of yesterday’s mob uprising at the nation’s Capitol, and I tried to moderate my own emotions—not very successfully, I thought about our students. I hope that in the coming days our teachers and staff will take time to help our students process these events. Because they were unraveling live in front of all of us, the access was very limited and almost absent in terms of sign language interpretation.
Given the rapid increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Travis County, Austin Public Health has recommended a return to 100% remote instruction for two weeks following the winter break. Per their guidance, we'll be returning to online learning through January 15th with our next student travel day on January 18th.