I would like to recognize our teachers, support staff, all school professionals, principals, administrators, our governing board, parents, students, NUSD Reopening of School advisory committee, and the Mariposa Community Health Center team, Dr. Eladio Pereira and Dr. J. Philip Williams. Thank you for your courage, support and understanding. 

If there is a time when a school community has come together, it has been now as we continue to experience these moments of difficulty together, trying to make the best out of our current situation confronting this global pandemic. Our very humanity has certainly been challenged like never before. 

In my 29 years as an educator and most recently as superintendent, I have been confronted with many challenges. Many of these have been difficult at best, but none more challenging for an organization than this current crisis. Dealing with unknowns and uncertainties where decisions and determinations need to be made in the best interest, safety, health and security of all stakeholders must be above any other factor. Recognizing this priority is how we have proceeded at the Nogales Unified School District. 

In this current process, we will never have all the data we need, have all the options for better results or understand all the risks that are and will continue to be before us. But we must continue to confront this crisis in order for our students to not be left behind – which now more than ever is more than just a catchy phrase. Together, as a school community along with our governing school board, we have moved forward cautiously, surpassing all the concerns and worries possible for the betterment of our school community. 

NUSD has implemented the best online teacher-direct instruction possible – not a perfect system, but providing online instruction to 5,600 students has been a tremendous and successful endeavor. This, like many other platforms that we are currently implementing, has never been done by regular on-campus educators before.

We are also currently providing onsite services to our self-contained special needs student population. NUSD has distributed more than 4,500 devices and hundreds of internet connectivity devices to better service our students with online direct instruction. We are proud that our students continue to do their best with these new models of teaching and learning.

Our parents, grandparents and families are also doing their best to support our students and teachers during this difficult process. Collaborating is what is making this situation work as best as possible. Technology alone can never replace direct in-person (physical) classroom instruction, but our entire school community is doing its very best every day to ensure the most effective online distance-learning possible to all of our students.

This pandemic has done so much harm and has impacted our lives forever. But it has also brought a realistic awareness of the importance and value of public education, our teachers, professionals and the many services and resources provided by our public schools.

It has highlighted the importance of our teaching profession and the need to invest in our public schools. Society as a whole is appreciating what our public schools really stand for within our communities. NUSD is standing strong and will continue to move forward making the best and safest decisions for all stakeholders.

As superintendent, it is an honor to be part of this school community during this crisis. I have been able to make recommendations in the best interest of our district due to the trust, transparency and support I have personally received. I am very fortunate to be a leader of such a caring, understanding and mindful community. 

(Parra is superintendent of the Nogales Unified School District.)

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