Superintendent's E-update 4/30/2020

Superintendent's E-update 4/30/2020
Posted on 04/30/2020
eupdate logoThursday, April 30, 2020

Dear Robbinsdale Area Schools Families and Staff,

I am so proud of our students, families and community members as they continue to rise to the challenge of these current times. We are also grateful to all of our Robbinsdale Area Schools staff who have worked diligently since distance learning started. Our staff continues to take care of our children and families in a safe way, keeping their social-emotional and learning needs front and center.

Last week, Governor Walz announced the extension of distance learning for the remainder of the school year. As we continue to adapt our current practices of delivering instruction, we must take care of one another, and rely on the expertise of our healthcare professionals. As such, I am excited to introduce this week’s guest writers, Jennifer Rainerson and Heidi Haines; both are licensed school nurses and co-leads of our Health Service Department. Collectively, they have 60 years of pediatric nursing experience, and 21 years of school nursing experience in our district.

“As public health nurses, our patient is our community. As nurses, we are trained and prepared for rapid change and the unexpected, but this pandemic has pushed us, and everyone throughout the world, to new levels of uncertainty. We serve as the eyes and ears of our community in this public health crisis. This has been challenging as our situation changes rapidly. We are listening to the experts at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and nationally at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), learning about current recommendations and collaborating with other school nurses statewide in an effort to be a resource and set examples for our wonderful Robbinsdale school community.

School nurses ensure the health and safety of our community through health promotion and primary prevention, which seeks to prevent disease and illness before it occurs. Now, more than ever, our role as a school health department is vitally important to carry out these cornerstones of public health nursing. It is a privilege to work at the intersection of health and education, which constantly reminds us how our mind, body and spirit are connected. We cannot seek to improve one aspect of ourselves without tending to all essential parts.

As we continue down this unknown and unprecedented path, we encourage giving each other grace and space (at least 6 feet apart). We need to be respectful of where we each are on the spectrum of emotions, which compares to the stages of grief first described by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You and your students are likely cycling through all of these emotions at different times. Remember to broaden your ideas of learning. Please understand, you and your students are learning important lessons which may not be on their distance learning assignments.

We are all learning and modeling what it means to be good community members by following the Governor’s orders, as well as what it means to be a good family member by being helpful at home. We are also learning and modeling how to handle big emotions and uncertainty, by using any of these coping tools: prayer and/or meditation; active listening; reaching out for support; finding time each day to reflect on what you are thankful for; eating well; getting enough rest; being active; going outside to observe nature with seeing eyes and listening ears; and staying connected to each other in creative, safe ways.

Humans need connection. Reach out if you are struggling. It is ok - we are all in this together. A pandemic itself is unimaginable, but we have also seen so many unimaginable examples of our school community, a microcosm of our society, coming together to support one another and carry out our duty to educate students and help them grow into great citizens as they build the community of the future. This is a beautiful thing!”

Thank you to Ms. Rainerson and Ms. Haines for sharing their experiences and expertise with our students, staff and families. They are truly amazing! Please take the time to celebrate our school nurses (and other healthcare professionals) on National School Nurse Day, May 6. The theme this year is ‘Supporting Students in Times of Crisis.’

As we continue to be inspired by our school nurses’ words and service to our community, we can use their example to serve and support one another. Please support our Armstrong and Cooper high school students tomorrow during their virtual Relay for Life Event, which celebrates cancer survivors and honors those throughout our community who have fought the disease.

I will close this week’s message by encouraging you to allow yourself grace and space, as you expand the possibilities of what learning looks like at home. Please check in with your loved ones and others as we continue to uplift and take care of one another.

Together, we are 281!


Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Robbinsdale Area Schools