Bernstein and Stowe: Back to School – The New Normal

Submitted by Board of Education members Peter D. Bernstein (Chair) and Kathleen Stowe (Vice Chair)

We are wrapping up our first month of the new school year. Last year at this time, we wrote a letter titled, “Greenwich BOE reviews plans for a different kind of school year.”

At the time, we were all happy to be able to get our students back to school while so many other districts did not. While we have not bid farewell to the pandemic as quickly as we all hoped, a year later we have opened our schools with a renewed sense of optimism and some notable progress.

With all the learnings from last year, the administration has done much to improve the school experience. All our students and staff are back in the buildings. We now have sports, full music programs and reduced cohorting. Students have a renewed sense of school spirit.

Even with the pandemic going on, our schools and students continue to excel and grow. Greenwich Public Schools introduced a new K-8 math program this year and there are many opportunities to learn about this through your local school. We have new academic coordinators and better alignment of curriculum from K-12 than ever before. We also have a new head of special education to help drive positive change in that program following an audit commissioned by the Board.

Greenwich can also celebrate the continuity of a superintendent with a renewed three-year contract as she continues to lead our school system forward. While there is always room for growth, we believe that we are on the right track. In fact, Greenwich High School was recently recognized by Niche as being the #4 high school in the state with an overall A+ grade.

In order to keep our students and staff safe we continue to comply with the state mandates regarding masks for students and vaccines for staff, while looking forward to a day when we can put this behind us. Our students and staff continue to respond admirably to the mitigation strategies, recognizing the value of our face-to-face instruction. Heavier than normal traffic in town, especially on the Post Road, has caused some issues with some of our busing and we continue to work to address that.

On the capital side, we will soon officially reopen the revitalized Cardinal Stadium and look forward to reuniting the North Mianus School once work is completed. Planning work is well underway for the front vestibule at Greenwich High School. We continue to close out prior year capital expenditures as we plan for the future. We will be discussing additional capital projects as we begin the budget cycle for the next school year. Many of our buildings require major renovations to bring them up to modern standards and ensure use into the foreseeable future.

Please continue to provide your input as this is always an important conversation for the community.

As we think about the progress in the last year and celebrate the successful start of another school year, it is important to celebrate those who continue to make it possible: our administrators, teachers and staff. They should truly be celebrated among our front line workers.

Most of all, however, we appreciate the students who continue to demonstrate strength and resilience through trying times. Our goal is to educate our students, to help them develop critical thinking skills and a knowledge base to support them through life, but they also teach us and the example they set with their optimism and fortitude can be a lesson for us all. Thank you to the community for your ongoing support and best of luck to our students and staff in the coming year.

Board of Education members Peter D. Bernstein (Chair) and Kathleen Stowe (Vice Chair)