BY MAIRE O’NEILL
If you are looking for an accurate source of information on what is happening at Los Alamos Public Schools with respect to the 2020-2021 school year, comments on social media are probably not the most reliable source.
“Facebook has not been our friend in helping people to understand definitions,” LAPS Supt. Kurt Steinhaus said during one of two virtual town halls, one for LAPS staff and a second for parents and students held last week. He said the message from the district is different to what shows up on Facebook.
During the town hall meetings, LAPS staff used breakouts sessions on Google Meet to disseminate information on a variety of topics including:
- Ask the Sup on Any Topic
- Teacher to Teacher
- Cleaning, Facilities, Air Filters and Transportation
- Health and Prevention
- The COVID-19 Toolkit
- Elementary Schools
- Middle School
- Topper Freshman Academy, High School and Athletics
- Student Services, IEPs and Ancillary Services
- Social Emotional Learning, and
- Los Alamos Online Learning Academy and Topper Virtual Academy
All the breakout sessions were recorded and both town halls may be viewed here in their entirety.
Prior to the breakout sessions, Steinhaus spoke of a “new and higher team effort” that the district is going to have to face and the commitments it has ahead of it.
“In education we always hear about reading, writing and ‘rithmetic as being ‘the three Rs’. I’ve been calling ‘relationships, routines and resilience’ the three Rs that we’ve been following since school started this year,” he said.
Steinhaus said what’s preeminent throughout the COVID-19 crisis is assuring students, staff and community safety. During the staff town hall, he said LAPS is getting better at that.
“As we move forward with getting all the PPE that you need and learning the protocols and getting that COVID-19 Toolkit in place, safety will get better and better,” he said.
One thing Steinhaus made clear is the LAPS wants to maximize learning for all students.
“We are really going to go after it and I don’t really care what kind of learning it is – face to face, some kind of remote, small group, remote learning or hybrid learning. All of those are areas that we’re going to rock in. We’re going to do a really good job and we’re getting better and better at it,” he said.
He noted that the school board and the district has a strategic plan and that even in the COVID world, “the top three focus areas are student wellbeing, student achievement and staff excellence, and staff excellence and wellbeing”.
Steinhaus commended all who stepped up and figured out a way to make remote learning “work in an incredible way.
“Are we having problems? Yes, and we always will, even if it’s in face to face learning we always will have challenges and we work on those and we get them solved. I want to go beyond saying thank you to our teachers. I want to go beyond respecting them as professionals. I want to involve them in our decision-making in the future and I think that’s very important,” he said.
Steinhaus noted that teachers, students and parents would all be involved in looking at every detail of the hybrid model and figuring out the best way to make it work.
“It’s not ideal and we know that, but that’s what we’ve got right now and we’ll figure out a way to make it work. That’s what the Los Alamos Public Schools is all about,” he said.
LAPS has also set up a new LAPS Information Center with links to the Public Education Department, the Department of Health and the COVID-19 Toolkit and more, all in one place.