Whitaker: School Reopening Focus Is On Students’ Needs

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JAMESTOWN — There will be school this Fall, but what form it takes remains unsettled, according to Jamestown Public Schools District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker.

“It looks like we’re going to have school in some form, the question is what is that form,” Whitaker said.

A draft plan to reopen schools this Fall is partially assembled, he said, explaining his staff was working on the draft prior to his arrival.

Whitaker said there are three scenarios at play for the next school year. Either everyone returns, everyone uses distance learning or something somewhere in between.

As part of the reopening plan, the district is preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We need to be prepared to resume distance learning all over again,” he said.

One important key to reopening, is making a smooth transition for students, Whitaker noted.

“There’s this kind of cultural line up that sort of dismisses students and then welcomes them back and its a rhythm that’s been going on for years and years.” Whitaker said.

However, because of COVID-19, Whitaker said this didn’t happen this year. Students were in school and then, all of a sudden they were not, he said.

“Suddenly, everything changed and with that comes a kind of trauma,” Whitaker explained.

“The most import thing when we return is looking at what we call TIG, trauma, illness and grief, and its impact on kids and how we can support them in their return. The people part is going to be critical when we come back.”

Whitaker expects to set up a committee next week to address gaps between what the state wants and what his district has.


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