May 24, 2021
Dear KIPP Texas Families,
Last week was a rollercoaster! The highest point was that we received some of our early STAAR results back, and the data confirms what we already knew – our teachers and Little KIPPsters are truly resilient and exceptional! While we don’t have the full set of STAAR results back, let’s pause to celebrate the fact that our high school English Language Arts End-of-Course results are one more indicator telling us that our KIPPsters experienced less learning loss than peers in surrounding schools. And while there is still unfinished learning and lots of work to do to close learning gaps, we know these results wouldn’t and couldn’t happen without the incredible commitment and dedication of our Team and Family. Thank you for your continued partnership each and every day, despite the fact that this year has been extremely challenging.
Alongside our celebration of early STAAR results, we received the tough news that Governor Abbott issued an executive order releasing the mask mandate in all public schools effective June 4, a week before our school years ends and graduations take place. Please read below for our plans for the rest of the year and graduations.
Before we get to the updates below, and given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to highlight the importance of talking about mental health. This year, some children and adults have dealt with depression, anxiety, loneliness, and added stress due to challenges related to the pandemic, racial injustice, police brutality, Winter Storm Uri, and so much more. Some have lost family and friends.
It is SO important, this year especially, that we keep our mental health at the forefront of our care for ourselves, our Little KIPPsters, and our families. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and so many other mental health illnesses aren’t easy to diagnose or treat, especially when we consider that in some Black and Brown communities, mental health has been a taboo subject for a long time. Let’s use this Mental Health Awareness Month to educate ourselves, our KIPPsters, and our families to recognize the symptoms, what to do about them, and where to ask for help.
I want to give a special recognition to our school-based mental health team – our Licensed Master and Licensed Clinical Social Workers, our Licensed Professional Counselors, and our Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who have worked so hard throughout the year to support our Little KIPPsters. Recognizing the impact this challenging year has had on them, this incredible team has led the implementation of guided community circle times for all students, they’ve provided resources to our schools directly and through community partnerships, and have quickly pivoted to offer one-on-one and small-group in-person and telehealth services for our KIPPsters learning in virtual environments. I’m so proud of the mental health support we have been able to provide our Little KIPPsters this year!
If you, your child, or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental health illness, please know that you are not alone. The KIPP Texas Team and Family love you and support you. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), and anyone can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) or visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for resources and free confidential support in Spanish and English.
SY21-22 Academic Calendar Update
As we shared on May 10, we expected one additional change to our Academic Calendar for next year (2021-22) and we now want to communicate what that change is.
We recognize that, as a Team and Family, we have persisted with purpose through some very challenging times this year. We have received feedback that Little and Big KIPPsters need time this summer to fully renew. Grounded in our beliefs around care and community, and with our commitment to lead with empathy and our core values and prioritize equity and sustainability, we have adjusted the 2021-22 academic calendar to provide more time this summer for our Little KIPPsters and teachers to get that much needed rest.
Instead of welcoming our students back on August 9, all Little KIPPsters will start school on August 16. The last day of school for next year will remain the same (June 2, 2022 for Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston schools | June 3, 2022 for San Antonio schools), however, in order to make up for the lost instructional minutes for Little KIPPsters as a result of the shorter school year, we will have full days of school Monday through Thursday the week of August 16, rather than early dismissal days.
These calendar changes will be submitted to the Board of Directors for final approval at the June Board meeting. Once these calendars have been finalized, we will share the updated calendars with you.
Update on Governor’s Executive Order Regarding Wearing Masks
At KIPP Texas, for the health and safety of our KIPPsters, Little and Big, we urge you and your child(ren) to continue to wear your masks through the end of the school year and during all graduations, even outdoor ones. We know mask-wearing, alongside our other safety procedures which will not change, work and have kept our Team and Family as safe as possible this year. So from a place of care and community, I personally ask that you please, please continue wearing masks for the rest of the school year and during our graduations. We are asking our teachers and staff to do the same.
Finally, we are excited to share good news! KIPP Texas, like all other school districts, has the opportunity to apply for a significant amount of funds through the the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) to supplement the unfinished learning our Little KIPPsters have experienced due to the pandemic, COVID-related school closures, preparation for school reopening, and more for the next three years!
We want your opinion on how to use these funds. Please take 5 minutes or less to complete this survey by Friday, May 28.
Thank you for your input and feedback.