Letter to the Community From Dr. O

 

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Dear Duplin Family,

 Schools around the world have been faced with many challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Duplin County Schools are no exception.  We are in the business of teaching young children and our “business” has been abruptly closed down leaving us with many decisions as to how to best meet the needs of our children from a distance.  This is a new world for everyone. 

 This crisis has taken a toll on our whole DCS family including our principals, teachers, administrators and support staff. They are spending countless hours developing distance learning plans, preparing instructional materials, finding ways to safely feed our children, attending to the social, emotional and health needs of our children and their caretakers, adjusting to new school laws and regulations, and the list goes on and on.  I cannot begin to tell you how hard our staff is working to ensure that it is “business” as usual.  Tasks have been monumental, and I could not be prouder of everyone at DCS for selflessly rising to this challenge for our young people. While many are dealing with personal challenges themselves, their dedication to our students has not faltered.

Graduation is a pivotal point in our students' lives and I understand it is on the minds of many of us.  The current CDC and health guidelines regarding gathering are completely out of our control.  We thank everyone for their creative ideas. Please rest assured that we have explored all possible options, which there are many. We cannot compare ourselves to other districts because each district has their own unique challenges related to this pandemic.   At this point, we erred on the side of safety.  Our principals and staff are fast at work preparing special presentations that will highlight each one of our graduates in a special way.  The video presentations will be as close to in-person ceremonies as possible. As announced, graduates will also have the opportunity to pick-up their diplomas on graduation day.  Even though expenses have been incurred, our principals will be refunding graduation fees to all seniors.  We appreciate this good faith effort on their part.  This is a new arena for all of us, but I assure you that everyone is giving it their all to celebrate our graduates.   

 Veering away from a traditional graduation is disappointing, not only for our amazing seniors and parents, but our whole faculty and community.  Believe me, we are all united in this disappointment.  Our students have worked so hard! We share in their sadness and understandable frustration.  This pandemic has stripped away a ceremony that they have dreamed of for many years; however, this pandemic cannot strip away their accomplishments or their diploma.  These circumstances were imposed on us by COVID -19 and we must join hands to support our graduating class through this tumultuous time.  Our decision to adjust graduation was made strictly with their best interest in mind and because we love them so much!  We feel strongly that, as educators and community members, our primary goal is to keep our children safe at all times and at all costs.  If keeping our children safe is wrong, I do not want to be right. We cannot afford to use this moment to find fault in one another. We can, however, take advantage of this moment to find grace, sensitivity, resiliency and determination. The lessons learned in this moment will strengthen our children’s resolve to forge through any challenge to reach their goals.  Let's unite to help our seniors stay the course as they continue to pursue their future dreams whether into the workforce, military or college. They are going to  help us build a brighter and more prosperous future.

While positive cases of COVID-19 and related deaths in Duplin County rise exponentially, it is critical that we all do our part to keep each other safe.   I pray for our whole community and ask for your grace, understanding and patience as we work diligently, as a school district, to do what is best for everyone in these unusually trying times. We have a public health challenge that requires a unified community approach. Our collective hope,  love, generosity, faith and perseverance cannot be quarantined. United we stand. As a community, we are Duplin Strong!

 

Your humble servant,

Austin Obasohan