08.10.21 Superintendent Update

Here we are on the eve of school. Some of you are smiling, some of you are crying and there's probably a few of you out there laughing. We all have our own emotions for the beginning of school. I have spent the last couple of weeks walking through our buildings, meeting with administrators and teachers and I am overwhelmed by the excitement and enthusiasm for this school year.
We will begin school tomorrow on our normal schedule. All persons in our buildings, second grade and above, will be required to wear masks. Our principals will be at the door and in the hallways to welcome back our students with a hug or a high-five and provide them a mask if they forgot theirs at home.
I have received hundreds of messages about my decision regarding masks. I appreciate all the feedback. Not just from the people who support our decision but also from the people who disagree with it, even those who are angry. I appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts with me. If you have written to me, then you know I have read every one of them.
I hope I have made this clear, I am not happy about this decision either. I want us to get back to normal. I am very hopeful that this will all be over soon but until then we must use an abundance of caution, including wearing masks, to make sure we keep our schools open. As I said to several parents, if you are angry about wearing masks imagine how angry you would be if I have to close our schools down because we cannot staff our buildings and our classrooms. We are already facing staffing issues. My goal is to take a few simple steps, just like we did last year, to keep our schools open. 
In case you missed our message last week, our school breakfast and lunch program is again free to all students this year thanks to a grant from the USDA. If your child wants to order individual items or something like an extra milk, they will need to pay for that. You can deposit funds into your child's account on our website. 
If your child is riding the bus, please have a little patience with us tomorrow. We have a number of bus drivers who are out with COVID and we are also experiencing staffing problems as a result of the labor shortages in our area. We are bringing on substitutes as well as administrators and other personnel from the Transportation Department to meet our needs. Please remember your child must be wearing a mask or they will not be allowed to board the bus. 
Tomorrow, traffic is going to be horrible. One hundred thousand people in Baldwin County have no idea school will be starting tomorrow. We are a select group of people. Please be prepared for traffic delays and angry motorists who don't understand why traffic is backed up. Car lines will be longer than usual. There will be an accident somewhere along your route that will cause an unanticipated delay. There will be a student who forgets something in a car and there will be a mom who forgot to take a picture. I ask you tomorrow to bring a pocket full of patience and a little grace. Whatever goes wrong, it will all be better in a week when we find our normal routine.
I want to say a special thank you to our 4,000 employees. As I've been through these hallways I have been so proud of my colleagues who came back to school this summer excited and enthusiastic about a post-COVID school year. As we’ve seen in the last two weeks, that has quickly changed. COVID numbers and hospitalizations have gone up. That might put a damper on things but not with this crowd of teachers.
Even though many of our employees have watched their colleagues or family members become sick with COVID, be admitted to the hospital and some pass away, they have continued their push to make this year better for your kids! They have worked hard to prepare for school and, by all indications, are still excited about what this next year has to bring. 
I would ask that you please share a “thank you” with these employees if you have the chance to see them. From our central office staff, administrators, teachers and support staff I could not be prouder to work with these fine people who put your children first. 
As always, thank you so very much for trusting us with your children. Please continue to pray for a safe and successful school year.
Eddie Tyler,
#BaldwinProud #CommunityStrong