By Steve Woolf
Life has sure gotten interesting the last couple of weeks. Frankly, it doesn’t seem like it is going to get less interesting anytime soon.
I have used the word “unprecedented” more the past two weeks than the rest of my life put together. Since our No. 1 job is to try to keep our kids and "staffulty" safe, we have closed our “in person” school and will reopen on March 31 online. Our students and their families will receive a ton of information on how that works and how to make it meaningful. They will also receive a survey so that we know what their technology needs are as well as what their food needs are in their home. We will help with both.
Starting March 30 we will start to serve our kids breakfast and lunch in one bag in a “grab and go” situation at Gateway Elementary, Summit Elementary, and a location to be determined in Florissant. The great thing about this is that it is free for any child up to and including age 18. Community Partnership has done a beautiful job of taking care of our families up to this point and will continue to do so as well.
We know that people are biologically hardwired for connection. When we are denied connection, that is when all types of trouble begins – socially, mentally, physically, and even spiritually. It is time to love one another now more than ever. I remember the days and weeks after 9/11 like it was yesterday (by the way… our seniors are 9/11 babies). After an initial run on gasoline that day, people were so kind to one another on the road, to neighbors, to strangers – everyone looked after one another. It is time to make sure we do the same. Check on your neighbor and those around you.
We will do this with our students and staffulty. We will lift each other up. It won’t matter what party we belong to, our religion, our ethnicity, or if we thought this all was a hoax or not. We will take care of one another. Hopefully we will all be back in school on April 21, but I think we all know that may or may not happen.
This all got real to me this past weekend when I received word that a wonderful, young, pre-school teacher I hired in my last school district passed away due to one of these nasty viruses. She went to the emergency room on Saturday night, was sent home, and she was gone Sunday morning. Only 50 were allowed to attend her funeral today because of COVID-19. I also received word today that a superintendent friend of mine from Kansas (he was superintendent in Lamar at one time) passed away today as a result of being infected with COVID-19. Things got extremely real for me.
Unprecedented. What a word. We are definitely experiencing a new reality and I thank you for coming together as a community to take care of one another. I have been called out for closing our schools to keep our students and staffulty safe by a couple of leaders in our community and have experienced the passive aggressive remarks from the same folks. I’ve got my big boy pants on and will definitely give them grace in these unprecedented times. We will support their leadership as well. Leadership in these times at the city, county, state, and federal level is tough. Let’s lift them up and support them as they give their best efforts at keeping us safe.
We are Teller County! Let’s love our neighbor and even those who aren’t during this time. We can be the light on the hill for others in our nation to strive to be. Be safe, my friends!
Steve Woolf is the superintendent of the Woodland Park School District. Go to wpsdk12.org to watch "Woolf Weekly," his message to the community.