Greetings DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Family,
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fall break. I want to thank Education Week for featuring DCSD’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee in a recent < a href="https://www.edweek.org/leadership/districts-are-leaning-on-medical-advisors-to-help-with-covid-policies-its-paying-off/2021/10" target="_blank">article. Education Week highlighted last month’s roundtable with the committee, and the great work the committee and district leadership has done as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The safety and well-being of our scholars, teachers and staff remains a top priority for me and the Board of Education, and I’m appreciative and thankful for our partnership with our medical community as we work together to make the best, necessary decisions for our community. As always, I encourage you to continue to follow the < a href="https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/covid-19-health-and-safety/">COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines and protocol, get vaccinated if you are eligible, wear your masks, wash your hands, and socially distance to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are heading in the right direction as cases decrease in our district, so please continue to do your part in keeping our community safe and healthy.
I want to thank our families for their support as we continue to navigate towards normalcy. To aid in carrying out our mission of ensuring student success, we must balance our schools. Balancing schools, which happens annually, entails relieving overcrowded classrooms by reassigning teachers from schools where student enrollment is lower than forecasted.
The Labor Day holiday not only ushers in the unofficial end of summer, but also typically signals the arrival of additional students enrolling in the district. This year, that did not occur. Nationwide, school districts have experienced a decline in enrollment, therefore this is not unique to our district. As a result, across the district, many students were in classrooms with lower or higher than projected enrollment. Our commitment is to provide the necessary support to educate all scholars.
Our team is currently evaluating the balancing process to ensure that data points are analyzed and communicated timely to all stakeholders thereby, decreasing the impact on students, teachers, families, and schools. We continue to put forth our level best to ease the transition. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
This week, I’m shining a spotlight on DeKalb School of the Arts student Jonah Ruffin. Jonah was one of 66 Georgia high school students selected to serve on State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ 2021-2022 Student Advisory Council. Throughout the school year, Jonah will meet with Superintendent Woods to discuss the impact of state policies in the classroom. Congratulations Jonah! I know you will represent the district and your school proudly. I am proud to shine a spotlight on this outstanding student!
Board Member Spotlight
I also want to shine a spotlight on one of our board members this week. Board Vice Chair Diijon DaCosta is a champion for our scholars. The Redan High School graduate and former DCSD educator is a father, educator, mentor, motivational speaker, activist, and community leader. He has a passion for education and is committed to improving the lives of young people. Thank you for your passion for the DCSD community!
For #TeamTuesday last week, I gave a special shout out Dr. Kishia Towns, Director of Student Relations. She is an education hero who works tirelessly to provide the best experience for our scholars through ensuring a positive school climate, safety, and learning. Thank you for making a difference!
See Something, Say Something
I want to acknowledge DCSD’s Public Safety Department and thank them for the work they are doing with the district’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign. Last week, a few of our officers engaged pre-k students, staff, and family members on the campaign. The officers also gifted students with coloring books, crayons, badges, hats, and pencils. Thank you Chief Bradley Gober and everyone in Public Safety for the work you do to keep our district safe.
COVID Testing and Vaccines
DCSD will host a monthly COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic for employees, students and the community. Free vaccines and testing will be available for all ages. The next scheduled event is Friday, Oct. 22, from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA. COVID-19 testing is also available at the Doraville Transportation Center, DCSD’s Department of Transportation, and the Panthersville Transportation Center. For more information, visit www.freecovidtesting.us/dekalb.
Comprehensive Master Plan Town Hall
DCSD is hosting virtual Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) regional town hall meetings this month. DCSD’s master planning process includes an evaluation of all school and administrative facilities, as well as the infrastructure to support the educational mission of the district. This process includes gathering data about school facilities that will be used to develop priorities for the next Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) project list. For more information and to view the schedule, please click here.
These town halls will be just one opportunity to provide input and feedback. I am hopeful that the CMP process will help us in continuing to build trust and transparency with our larger stakeholder group. We are in the process of reconciling all E-SPLOST IV and V projects and are excited to share our new oversight and reporting tools with our communities. We will continue to move onward and upward as a district!
Please continue to visit our website and your school’s website for the latest information on district news. Have a great week!
Mrs. Cheryl Watson-Harris
Thank you to all of DCSD’s principals for their incredible commitment to students, staff and the community!