Letter: It's no surprise Wilton schools are doing as well as they are

A letter from the Board of Education acknowledges the success Wilton schools have had so far this year in responding to the challenges of COVID-19.

A letter from the Board of Education acknowledges the success Wilton schools have had so far this year in responding to the challenges of COVID-19.

Jeannette Ross / Hearst Connecticut Media

To the Editors:

We have completed more than four months of the 2020-21 school year under global pandemic conditions. We can be proud Wilton has risen to the challenge of educating our students during the time of COVID-19. It took strong leadership to design and implement a comprehensive plan. It took creativity to design three instructional models (remote, hybrid, and in-person). It took professional expertise to determine the best tools (a range of technology hardware and software, a comprehensive software learning platform, and teacher training). It took understanding developmental needs to refine the models to suit the student ages at each school. It took attention to detail to implement the mitigation strategies to protect health and safety. It took team work and focus to put everything in place before the start of school. It took family engagement and support to provide input on the models and to help their students adapt to a very different environment. It took everyone’s understanding that social and emotional needs, especially now, are as important as academic progress. It took community support to provide sufficient resources for the extra demands created by COVID. It took outstanding teacher dedication and superb skills to bring it together and provide academic challenge and personalized attention — both in-person and remotely, and simultaneously.

We should not be surprised that our district has been successful even in the midst of COVID. Going back decades, the Wilton schools have a tradition of educational excellence, and the Wilton community has provided the necessary resources. Leadership, creativity, attention to detail, professional expertise, understanding the developmental needs of students, team work, focus, family engagement, attention to social and emotional needs, outstanding teacher dedication and superb skills — these attributes are embedded in the Wilton schools and are being drawn upon now more than ever.

Along with recognizing our strengths, we recognize the worry, stress, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, and even disengagement during the last months. The COVID-created conditions are far from optimal school conditions. And we have to prepare for the challenges next year — addressing potential learning gaps, providing support for possible increased social-emotional needs, and bringing back co-curricular, fine and performing arts, and athletic programs to their full force.

And we should also recognize some potential positive impacts from this year. We have proved we can be more adaptable, flexible, creative and responsive than we previously thought possible. Snow days could be a thing of the past. Conducting some meetings remotely can be more convenient, accessible and efficient for participants. A remote environment might make learning more accessible in some individualized, short-term situations. Teacher and student interaction might be augmented or more convenient with video conferencing.

Now, with the wonderful advent of the COVID vaccines, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The remaining six months of the school year will no doubt involve more twists and turns as well as ups and downs but our outstanding school leaders and amazing faculty and staff will continue to provide each and every student the best academic program and personalized educational experience possible. We thank our families for standing with us and we look forward to our partnership in 2021.

We thank the larger Wilton community for your support and we wish everyone a restful and restorative holiday season.

Deborah Low, Glenn Hemmerle, Gretchen Jeanes, Jen Lalor, Ruth DeLuca, Mandi Schmauch

Wilton Board of Education