February 8, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
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.
So, where are we now? The answer is, we are carefully considering all options to determine if there is a safe and practical way to celebrate our students and make them feel special. Below you will find an update on our current thinking regarding these events:
- Prom: It seems unlikely that any kind of prom can be held safely. We currently don’t see a way to enforce social distancing and crowd size limits at prom. We won’t rule out some creative virtual idea yet.
- Graduation: We are hoping to hold our graduation ceremonies this year. Again, this will not be possible indoors so we are going to move it outdoors, establish strict limits on the number of attendees and move it to evening, 7:00 PM to avoid the heat of the day. We are exploring rain date options.
- Field Trips: We will continue to suspend field trips. We already face challenges with bus transportation and any additional unnecessary trips in confined settings with poor ventilation would not be advisable.
- Spring Sports: All of our Deaf School Tournaments and events have been canceled for the entire school year. We are hopeful for spring sports if Austin and Travis County move out of Stage 5 of community spread of the virus. There are indications this might occur. We are also encouraged by the fact that all our spring sports are outdoors and lend themselves more to social distancing than winter sports. Stay tuned for updates on this.
- EOY Events in K-8. We will continue to recommend that elementary and middle school students plan their celebrations virtually.
- Outreach Events: Summer Camps, Summer Programs, Family Week Retreat and Communication Skills Workshops (CSW) will be a combination of in-person on-site, in-person offsite, and virtual events. For information on specific programs please check out our brochure at https://www.tsd.state.tx.us/apps/news/article/1380683
I close with tremendous thanks to our amazing students and families. The pandemic has stressed all of us in every aspect of our daily lives. From an educational perspective, it took away the reassuring custom of a daily physical gathering at school and the comfort that came with that.
Suddenly, in its place we had a solitary and sometimes isolated experience. Aside from the serious health concerns of COVID-19, this may have been the biggest challenge of all.
Our students and families faced it with courage and resilience. I am grateful for that strength. We will keep you updated on these events on our website so be sure to check back often. You can view this letter in ASL at this link https://youtu.be/8e__kDHJQzU.
Very best wishes,