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District Update, 6/26

June 25, 2020

From the Superintendent

It has been a very challenging few months for everyone in our community.  However, during every crisis some positives occur through the process.  As we develop our Holmes District Reopening Plan, I feel that you should know what is being planned, the process of planning, and the circumstances surrounding the plan.   I want to stress the importance of remembering that the process is fluid, and even after the plan is released to the public, it may change as conditions mandate.


I feel that a positive aspect that has been reinforced is that the connection between schools, families, and communities is stronger than ever.  Our community must continue to work as a team and build upon the success that permeates our school campuses.  I also feel that this has validated the positive progression in our schools and simultaneously offers us a chance to adopt new, innovative learning strategies that will lead to continued student achievement.  Although the final plan will be very detailed and contain numerous guidelines as directed by our  Governor and other agencies, I feel the need to reassure parents, students, employees, and community members about a few topics:

1. We plan to begin school on August 12, as previously scheduled.

2. We are committed to providing a safe, positive learning environment, while still following good common sense, as well as CDC and state-directed guidelines.  These guidelines change often, and we will adapt as needed to ensure compliance.

3. We are working to revise our Instructional Continuity Plan using lessons we learned from the spring closure. We are planning for both in-person and remote learning so that we will be well-prepared to continue educating our students regardless of the circumstances.  Our plan will allow for a smoother transition to remote learning, should the need arise.  We are also working to have our own locally-directed virtual franchise to serve any families who choose to enroll their children in virtual school rather than returning to our brick and mortar schools.  This will allow our Holmes County students to be taught by Holmes County teachers.  Given the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic, we must be prepared for anything!

 

It is imperative that we show patience, trust, and confidence in each other as we navigate this journey.  My staff, the reopening task force, and I are committed to improving upon the current progress that Holmes District Schools are experiencing.  We can’t afford to digress.  We owe it to our children and grandchildren to continue our investment in their futures. 

 

To our employees, I would like to thank faculty, staff, and administrators for your efforts during this crisis.  We all could have thrown our hands up when our schools closed.  However, you stayed the course and went above and beyond what was required in order to be sure our students stayed safe, received meals, and continued engaging in learning activities to maintain their skills.  To our 2020 graduates, much as been said of all the things that you were deprived of this spring.  However, one thing I can say with certainty is that you never gave up.  You set a new record for graduation rate in Holmes County with 94% of students graduating with a diploma.  This community is proud of you, and America is a better place because of you.

 

Since we will not publish an update next week due to the Independence Day holiday, I want to wish all of you a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!  May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

 


Terry L. Mears
Superintendent of Schools

 

District Update, 6/19/20

June 18, 2020

Summer VPK Program

We have just received approval for a Summer VPK program at Bonifay K-8.  Summer VPK is for students who were eligible for VPK during the 2019-20 school year but did not attend a VPK program.  The program will run June 24-July 30.  Information on how to register can be found on our website at the following link:  https://bit.ly/3ehNLtO.

Summer Reading Recovery Program

Through the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund, we are able to provide a Summer Reading Recovery Program for students entering 1st through 4th grades in the 2020-21 school year.  The program will begin on July 6  and run Monday through Friday until July 22 from 8:00 a.m.– 3:00 p.m. each day.  Schools are currently in the process of reviewing student reading data and will be contacting potential attendees over the next two weeks.  More details will be announced as plans are finalized. 

Holmes District Schools and Holmes County Sheriff’s Department Renew Partnership

At this week’s school board meeting, the board approved the renewal of our contract with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department to provide SROs (School Resource Officers) for all school campuses.  This community partnership helps ensure a safe learning environment for all Holmes County students.  We are grateful for our law enforcement officers and appreciate the sacrifices they make to keep Holmes County safe!  This spring, Poplar Springs SRO Monty Merchant completed his career with HCSD, and we are thankful for his service and wish him the best in his retirement.  The Poplar Springs community will certainly miss Officer Merchant!  Filling those shoes next year at Poplar Springs will be Officer Frank Turbeville, formerly at the GAP.  We welcome aboard Officer John “Sodie” Braxton who will be filling the SRO position at the GAP.  

Controlled Open Enrollment Notification Letters

Principals are currently reviewing Controlled Open Enrollment applications.  We hope to issue notification letters within the next two weeks.  If you missed the original application window, it will reopen on July 23. 

 

May God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

Terry L. Mears
Superintendent of Schools

 

Bonifay K-8 Summer VPK
June 24-July 30, 2020
8 a.m.-4:00 p.m.   


June 24-26 W-F
June 29-July 3 M-F
July 6-10 M-F
July 13-16 M-TH
July 20-23 M-TH
July 27-30 M-TH

Registration Information
Parents will log in to  https://familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com/Account/LogOn

Parents must have a valid e-mail address to complete this procedure.
Families must upload (scan & send) the child’s birth certificate and proof of Florida residency as prompted during process.  Everything has to be completed on-line.  The Early Learning Coalition will email the certificate to the parents, then families print it and take to the school as explained below:


Certificates of Eligibility for Summer VPK will be accepted at Holmes District School Board in Office 10 beginning Monday, June 15, 2020.  Parents will need to furnish a copy of child’s birth certificate, current shot & physical record at this time. Parents will be asked to fill out registration forms at this time.


Summer VPK is for students that were eligible for VPK during the 2019-20 school year but did not attend a VPK program.

Please contact Carmen Bush at 547-9341 x 1253 or Danielle Suggs x1228 for more information.  Email:  carmen.bush@hdsb.org  or Danielle.suggs@hdsb.org.

District Update, 6/12/20

June 12, 2020

Reopening Plan

On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis & Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced recommendations and plans to re-open safe and healthy schools that set students up for success.  We are pleased that Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran have indicated that reopening plans will be driven by local data with strategies developed by the local school district, in consultation with local health officials.   District and school leadership will be meeting frequently over the next few weeks and working hard to create Holmes County’s reopening plan.  We are committed to provide a safe environment for students and employees that is as “normal” as it can possibly be.

A document outlining the Governor’s recommendations can be accessed at bit.ly/30wQU4I.

 

2020-21 Reopening Survey

This week, each of our schools began contacting parents to gather information that will be used to plan for the 2020-21 school year.  It is vital that we speak with each household!  If you have not spoken with someone from your school by Tuesday, June 16, please contact the school office. 

 

Bethlehem Seniors Recognized by FDOE

The Florida Department of Education has partnered with the Florida Lottery to recognize seniors who are going above and beyond to support their communities during the COVID-19 environment.  We were notified this week that two Bethlehem graduates, Bailey Miller and Chloe Yarbrough, have been selected for recognition as part of the “Adversity Fuels Greatness” campaign.   Be watching the Florida Department of Education’s social media accounts over the next couple of weeks to see their spotlights!  We’ll also share them on our district Facebook page.  Congratulations to these two outstanding students!

 

Summer Meals

Breakfast and lunch meals are being provided throughout the summer at the four feeding program sites:  Bethlehem, Bonifay K-8, Ponce de Leon Elementary, and Poplar Springs.  Meal distributions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m.  Food is available for all children 18 and under, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the particular school.   Please support this vital program!

 

Controlled Open Enrollment

Any student who is living outside the zone set for each school must complete a reassignment application yearly.  If you missed the Controlled Open Enrollment window earlier in the year, or if your circumstances have changed, the window will reopen from July 23 through August 14.  Visit our website and click the Controlled Open Enrollment link on the left side of the page.

 

I hope you and your family are staying safe and having a great summer! May God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

 

 

Terry L. Mears
Superintendent of Schools

 

Graduation Week

This week has been a wonderful time of celebrating our 2020 seniors.  I have truly enjoyed seeing the look of pride on each graduate’s face and sharing in our students’ accomplishments.  Collectively, our graduates have been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.  Many of our graduates have also attained industry certifications through our career and technical programs which will give them an edge when they enter the workforce.  The future is full of opportunities for the Class of 2020!  Tonight we conclude our week of graduations at Ponce de Leon High School.  Please visit the PDLH Facebook page for details regarding tonight’s ceremony.

 

2020-21 Reopening Survey

On Wednesday, we published a short survey regarding plans for the reopening of schools.  At this time, we are scheduled to  begin the school year on August 12 as planned.  It is vitally important that we hear from our families as we plan for the upcoming year!  If your family hasn’t completed the survey, please visit https://forms.gle/WtR7Mhq57NpwE3bNA to complete it by Monday, June 8.  Only one survey is required per family, and it should only take about 5 minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your input! 

What will school look like when we open in August?  Honestly, we’re not 100% sure, as we are still in the early planning stages.  Those plans will be further refined as we  receive more guidance from the Florida Department of Education and the CDC throughout the summer.  However, we are certain of one thing.  We will be doing everything we can to ensure a safe environment for our students and employees!

 

Phase II

Governor DeSantis has announced that Florida will be moving into Phase II of reopening beginning today.  While we know that everyone is anxious for a return to normalcy, we strongly encourage you to continue to follow CDC guidelines, including social distancing and good hygiene habits, to help ensure the safety of our community!

 

Summer WINGS Program

The WINGS 21st CCLC virtual summer program will begin on June 8th and continue through July 16th. Daily lessons will be provided for the students and supplies for the week will be passed out on Mondays starting June 8th. This is a virtual program, so you will need access to the internet and a device to use. Links to the content are available on each school’s website.  We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving our families.

 

Pandemic-EBT Benefits

On May 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Florida’s request to implement the Pandemic EBT program across the state. Because Holmes District Schools meet the requirements for the Community Eligibility Program, which provides free breakfasts and lunches to ALL students, Holmes County students will receive $313.50 per child due to school closures. If a family already receives EBT benefits, it will be added to their funds for the month. If a family does not receive benefits, it will be mailed to the address on file when enrollment information was submitted to the state. Benefits are scheduled to be paid by June 30. For more information about this benefit, please visit this link from the Florida Department of Agriculture.  https://www.fdacs.gov/Food-Nutrition/Nutrition-Programs/National-School-Lunch-Program/Pandemic-EBT-for-National-School-Lunch-Program

 

The last couple of months have brought unprecedented changes to life as we know it, including our schools.  If you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s education, please feel free to contact us!  May God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

 

Terry L. Mears
Superintendent of Schools

 

On May 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Florida’s request to implement the Pandemic EBT program across the state. Because Holmes District Schools meet the requirements for the Community Eligibility Program, which provides free breakfasts and lunches to ALL students, Holmes County students will receive $313.50 per child due to school closures. If a family already receives EBT benefits, it will be added to their funds for the month. If a family does not receive benefits, it will be mailed to the address on file when enrollment information was submitted to the state. Benefits are scheduled to be paid by June 30. For more information about this benefit, please visit the Florida Department of Agriculture's website.

We are actively making plans for the reopening of school on August 12.  Please complete the following survey to assist in planning.  Your responses are extremely important as we make reopening decisions.  Please complete the survey by Monday, June 8.

https://forms.gle/WtR7Mhq57NpwE3bNA

As we close out the school year, we want to hear from you!  Parent and student surveys provide valuable data as we reflect on the 2019-20 school year and prepare for 2020-21 and beyond.  Please take a few minutes to complete the appropriate survey for your school. 

Bethlehem School

Parent                                           https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135502/5585

 

Students

Elementary (Grades 3-5 only):         https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135500/5585

Middle/High:                                 https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135501/5585

 


Bonifay K-8

 

Parent                                         https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135489/57455

 

Students

Elementary (Grades 3-5 only):       https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135487/57455

Middle:                                       https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135488/57455

 

Holmes County High

 

Parent                                            https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135493/5842

 

Student                                         https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135490/5842

 

Ponce de Leon Elementary

Parent                                        https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135514/24306

 

Student (Grades 3-5 only)         https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135515/24306

 

Ponce de Leon High

 

Parent                                         https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135498/23051

 

Student                                      https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135498/23051

 

Poplar Springs

Parent                                        https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135508/24827

 

Students

Elementary (Grades 3-5 only)        https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135505/24827

Middle/High                                  https://eprovesurveys.advanc-ed.org/surveys/#/action/135507/24827

Holmes District Schools Announce Revised 2020 Graduation Plans

On Friday, May 8th, Holmes District Schools announced graduation plans for the Class of 2020. From the beginning, Holmes District Schools has been committed to honoring our 2020 seniors with traditional graduation ceremonies if at all possible, while still adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC. In the previous announcement, Holmes District Schools Superintendent Terry Mears stated that these plans were fluid and subject to change. In the past week we have continually engaged with our community task force in an attempt to improve the graduation experience for the Class of 2020.

At this time, based upon new data and further coordination with our community task force, the Florida Department of Education, and the Department of Health, the graduation plans for the Class of 2020 are updated as follows:

Holmes County High School will have a ceremony with all students present, with each student being able to invite four guests. The ceremony will be at Memorial Field in Bonifay on June 4th at 7:30 p.m.

In addition, Ponce de Leon High School, Bethlehem High School, and Poplar Springs High School are planning to host a graduation ceremony at their campus or a community location that meets updated CDC guidelines. The dates for these schools will be as follows:

Poplar Springs High School: June 1st
Bethlehem High School: June 2nd
Ponce de Leon High School: June 5th

Specific details will be forthcoming from the individual schools.

Please know that these plans are fluid and subject to change. We are hopeful that over the next few weeks, restrictions will be lifted further, and we will be able to allow more family and friends to join us in honoring our graduates. Any changes will be posted on our mobile app and social media accounts. We appreciate your patience as we work to implement these plans in these trying times. We are thankful for a community that pulls together as a family to make these celebrations unique and memorable for our Class of 2020 graduates!

God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

Terry L. Mears, Superintendent