March 12: One year ago, a message from Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles

Landscape picture of a rainbow against a backdrop of a dark sky, trees in the distance on a field and power lines in site

A message from Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles:

Dear GCSD School Community,

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of when Guilderland schools shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Several other area schools shut down a day later, and the Governor closed all schools in the state shortly after that. Never would we have predicted that our schools would stay closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Nor could we anticipate the challenging summer when our various reopening committees were planning for a safe return to school in September.

Yet here we are, a year later, looking a little different from what we are used to but open for learning. The majority of our K-6 students are here, in-person all day, every day. Our 7-12 students are here all day, every other day engaged in a hybrid learning model. I’m convinced that our secondary faculty could become air traffic controllers after becoming so skilled in synchronously connecting with students on so many devices and platforms. They all made it look easy, but I know it was anything but. We also supported many students across the district who opted to attend school this year entirely remotely. It is a marvel that these classrooms of students have become a community of learners and good friends, even at a distance.

Our faculty and staff have done a herculean job this school year, but so have all of you, our families, who have entrusted your children to us in a pandemic. I cannot thank you enough for your cooperation with following our safety protocols, your diligence in reading our near daily updates, your patience with quarantine notices, and your flexibility with changing schedules and sudden transitions to remote learning. I know that this has been a challenging year for you and your family, but I am optimistic about what the future holds as vaccinations become more widespread and the infection rate declines. We will need to continue to work together in the weeks and months ahead.

As a sign that better days are coming, I have to share what happened at yesterday’s Reopening Steering Committee meeting. This is a group of 25 people who have met weekly (and sometimes more) since mid-May 2020. While we were officially changing our name to the “Recovery Steering Committee” and purposefully shifting our focus to next year, a rainbow appeared. One of our members, Emily Mineau, snapped the perfect photo from her deck and shared it with me (see it above), and I am sharing it with you! Thank you, Emily!

I can’t help but think that the rainbow, which appeared on the eve of the anniversary of our shut down, is a sign of better days to come. Seeing it made me pause and reflect on what we’ve all been through these last twelve months and where we’re going next. I invite you to pause and reflect as well. I know there are plenty of challenges ahead, but I am certain that we have a compassionate, creative, and resilient community. I also am confident that brighter days (and evenings) are ahead.

Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget to add more sunlight to your days by “springing” your clocks ahead!

Sincerely,

Dr. Marie Wiles
Superintendent of Schools

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