COVID-19 May Update

Dear Lagunitas School Community:

We find ourselves in a moment unprecedented in human history.  Two months ago when the shelter-in-place order was given, we did not anticipate the reality our nation and world would face economically and socially in such a short time. 

COVID-19 has not only spread illness and caused economic tragedy around the world; it has also fueled uncertainty and anxiety about what its impact will be in the near and distant future.  Our early assumptions have proven to be lacking.  We thought school might open in a few days or weeks. We thought our national response might be more effective. We thought we would have a handle on this sooner.  Learning that we are not very good at predicting the future has made many of us uneasy about our ability to predict anything.  

And yet, we know it would be foolish to wait and do nothing.  Things will eventually change and we do have enough information to take steps to be ready for what might come next.  

First of all we know that our local public health department has been the most reliable source of information for developing our response. While messages from  the state and federal government have been variable, our own local experts have guided us well.  (Even with a high-risk population, Marin has proven to be a leader in lowering the speed of transmission.)  As we plan for re-opening school, we will continue to rely on their advice.

I participated in 2 important conference call this week- one with the Public Health Officer and another with county school finance experts. My update for you may not be completely satisfying but I hope it will help bring little more clarity.

What we don’t know:

  • We don’t know when we will be allowed to open school again.
  • We don’t know the conditions under which we will allowed to re-open.
  • We don’t know what the long-term impact will be to our school budget and our ability to provide programs as we have in the past. 

What we do know: 

  • We know that school will be closed through at least August 19.  It may open a lot later but it will not open earlier. So we have at least 3 months to prepare.
  • Public Health has told us that the most restrictive school opening requirements would include closed cohorts of 12 students and no interaction with others and significant sanitization requirements. It could be much more relaxed than that, but it won’t be any more restrictive. 
  • We know that our budget for this year is strong and that we will be able to meet our financial obligations.  We also know that our financial picture for next year looks sound. As a locally-funded district with a prudent reserve, we are somewhat insulated against the major state-wide budget cuts that others are facing.  We are not planning lay-offs that we are seeing in other places. 
  • Public Health will provide additional (maybe significant) information within 3 weeks as they learn more about the virus and how various responses are working.

With those things in mind, we are taking the first steps toward developing a plan to re-open.  We do not want to commit too early to a single plan but we do want to be ready for a few different scenarios.  

And we need your input. We want to make sure we are listening to your concerns so that our plans will serve the community when the time comes to implement them. In the next few days we will be reaching out to the community to make sure we are working together-more to come on that soon. 

As we head into a weekend that I hope gives you some rest and time for reflection, I ask that you join me in trying to put things in perspective. History has always brought challenges and each of us is commanded by fate to respond with whatever wisdom we have.  We do not control the external circumstances of our lives; it is not up to us whether it will rain or shine.  We do not choose the moment of our birth or death.  But we have the miraculous capacity to perceive the world, organize our thoughts and respond in accord with our highest values.  We may look at this situation as a crisis or a catastrophe and be tempted to increase suffering (ours and others) by adding panic, fear and anxiety.  We can also decide to appreciate the opportunities this moment brings: learning things about ourselves that we may not have known had it not been for this pandemic, re-thinking what really matters and enjoying the simple pleasures that we took for granted a few short weeks ago. 

We will look back on this time and tell stories to one another.  I want my own children to share accounts of resolve, helpfulness, perseverance and growth, to appreciate the adventure we are sharing at the moment and to treasure having been through this difficult time.  

Thank you for your continued support, good humor and patience.

John Carroll, Superintendent