Halifax County, NC: Schools Superintendent Reflects on the District’s New Normal, Covid-19

NC News. Photos: Frank and Kay Whatley
NC News. Photos: Frank and Kay Whatley

Regarding the school district’s response to Covid-19, Halifax County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Eric L. Cunningham recently shared this statement of reflections:

Superintendent Dr. Eric L. Cunningham. Source: Halifax County Schools
Superintendent Dr. Eric L. Cunningham. Source: Halifax County Schools

 

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, as I watched the news of Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order for mandatory school closure, my heart sank deeply within me.  I knew that while the district would have to weather another life changing wave of uncertainty, I would need to quickly anchor my school community’s trust in the professionalism of a well-prepared school staff.

As you know, the Halifax County School District’s motto is “Charting A New Course”. This is just what we are doing from afar to serve our students. There have been and will be many important decisions to make so we are continuing to focus on our COVID-19 Contingency Plan which always begins with asking ourselves two questions. Are we doing what’s right for students? Are we doing what’s right for employees? I realize that not everyone will agree with every decision that has been made nor will everyone agree on decisions made in the future, but please know that our hearts and minds have always been on Halifax County School’s most important assets — our students and employees.

There are no words to adequately conceptualize the sense of vulnerability in North Carolina right now. We understand the stress and hardship of parents and guardians having to take on full responsibility of educating our students at home — especially with limited instructional resources and knowledge of the curriculum, however, we’re a lighthouse district!

During these unprecedented times, my team is not just standing tall, we are standing together, shining our light and navigating through unchartered waters. Our teachers and other employees are working long hours from home while adapting to their new, but temporary normal – Remote teaching. In addressing where the district is now in its academic progress in educating students, I am committed to providing our blended learning programs. The Blended Learning Program includes an emphasis for Pre-K through 12th grade students attending online individualized instruction, as well as online classroom instruction with their teachers, completing learning packets, and teacher check-ins with students by scheduled phone calls, email or text daily.

On the front lines our child nutrition staff, bus drivers, custodians and other employees have made it possible for us to be able to prepare, pack and deliver meals, instructional supplies and resources, and keep our buildings and buses clean and sanitized. With an all hands on deck mentality, we have delivered over 76,000 meals since schools have been closed. We have not only provided meals and instructional supplies during our deliveries, our drivers and staff on the busses have provided a warm greeting, some comfort and a sense of normalcy at their bust stops. In times like these, Unity is Strength and a staff and community working together is a force to be reckoned with. We are Halifax! We are “resilient” and we will make it through this unprecedented time together. As superintendent of Halifax County Schools, I am truly grateful for my staff and the community we serve.

Hope is seeing the light in spite of being surrounded by the darkness. Therefore, in the face of fear, I offer you hope for better days ahead. Hope in the power of our working together in alignment as one people -doing the best we can to encourage and sustain each other’s faith. Remember, life will get back to normal eventually, but hopefully, after this experience is over, our lives will include more appreciation of our blessings and freedoms.

Thank you all for your support, understanding and flexibility as we navigate through this pandemic. We will continue to work together to make our darkest days the brightest days for our children.

 

 

GAL 2019
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