May 6, 20201
Dear GUSD Families, Friends, and Tiger Nation,
I can’t believe we only have 13 days of school left as I write this message. What a year! We have faced many unprecedented issues as we have maneuvered through the 2020-2021 school year. At last evening’s school board meeting I commended our staff and board for their leadership in persevering through on of the most challenging times in my 27 years as a school superintendent. Let me just list some of the challenges GUSD has faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Trying to manage student and staff positive COVID-19 tests and quarantines;
- Distributing over 1,000 Chromebook personal computing devices;
- Distributing over 150 internet “hot spots”;
- Balancing parent choice in 2 day per week, 4 day per week, or online attendance beginning on September 21, 2020;
- Allowing middle and high school sports teams to compete in fall, winter, and spring seasons;
- Serving tens of thousands of off-campus meals to students in the GUSD attendance area thanks to our food service and transportation departments.
- Allowing more students to attend beginning the 2nd trimester on November 9, 2020;
- Working with teachers and staff to attempt to learn how to manage online learning;
- Arranging with the Gila County Health Department to begin staff vaccinations on January 8, 2021;
- Welcoming back any student desiring in-person, everyday school on March 14, 2021; and
- Allowing mask wearing to be a personal choice for staff and students beginning April 21, 2021.
Through all of these difficult times and the accompanying difficult decisions for the board and me, our staff has labored diligently with the needs of the students at the center of their focus. I am so proud of the board and staff for the wisdom they have displayed in their commitment to student and community needs. Faced with many challenges they have soldiered on, and been here with students in our school building every day since September 21, 2020. Our district is in a small minority of Arizona districts that can say that. Each district had to make its own decisions, but I couldn’t be prouder of how our leadership and staff have handled themselves in the face of adversity.
This week (May 3-7, 2021) is Teacher Appreciation Week. At GUSD we honor ALL staff this week. I want to encourage everyone in the GUSD footprint to say “thanks” to our staff if you get a chance. And while appreciation to the educational staff in our district is a point of emphasis for this week, I encourage you to say “thanks” on a regular basis to our educators in all positions in the school district. They are truly trying to exemplify our district vision of “Capturing Hearts, Empowering Minds”.
Jerry Jennex, Superintendent