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Dr. Higgins: Now more than ever, our world illustrates the necessity to meet all students' needs

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize USD 266 My years of training and experience as an educator have led me to learn about, prepare for, and imagine all kinds of scenarios schools and students would find themselves living.
 
I never could have imagined a district, community, and world that looked like what we have seen in the past two months. Our classrooms are empty, sports and activities are canceled, and we even are exploring simply how to handle high school graduations for the Class of 2020. Just when we need like never before to lean in, we instead must keep our distance.
 
The silver lining is that we have pulled together as OneMa1ze in an environment that truly tests us. I was confident before that our district can be the best on a good day. Now we are facing a trial on whether we can be the best on more challenging days.
 
When our school buildings and others across Kansas closed, we had more work to do than moving our learning online, which was no small feat in itself. We had to figure out how our food service department could feed our students, especially those in need who depend on us for their meals. Our school nurses had to return vital student medicine to families who need it. Our counselors were faced with the puzzle of how to help students struggling with existing and new social-emotional stresses brought about by a global pandemic.
 
Clearly, our students, the youth of our community, depend on school for even more than their education. I have shared with you before that I guide the district and my own decision-making with the question, "What is best for students?" We especially can see now and in these recent weeks that the plural S in students represents so many needs.
 
I am proud of the grab-and-go meal distribution our food service department is facilitating, providing thousands of meals for our students. Our technology department has worked tirelessly to distribute devices to families who needed them for online learning. I am grateful to the Maize Education Foundation , which has generously funded the purchase of hot spots for district families needing internet connectivity for Continuous Learning. I am inspired by the daily emotional health tip counselors and social-emotional educators are sharing on social media. I hope parents find the OneMa1ze Continuous Learning Parent Resource page at bit.ly/OneMa1zeLearns as helpful as we have designed it to be.
 
These success stories aside, I will be the first to recognize that we can continue to learn how we can better support our students and families. We will be reviewing the results of our ThoughtExchange survey, in which we asked parents and students the following question: What are your thoughts and questions about Maize USD 266’s response to COVID-19, and how can we best support each other?
 
Thank you, parents, for partnering with us during a very difficult time. I know it has been challenging for many to juggle our Continuous Learning Plan and your other responsibilities, including your career and family. As a district, we have relied on you and other parents to find a place in your homes and lives for our technology, curriculum, lessons, Google Meets, and more. Your living rooms and kitchen tables have been our school libraries, classrooms, and gyms. For this and your support and grace, I would like to express thanks on behalf of everyone at Maize USD 266.  
 
We are stronger and better together. I look forward to seeing you each soon and for our schools and community to be once again safe and look more like what we know and love.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools