• March 18, 2020

    Message for GBSD Staff

    Look for the Good

    Dearest GBSD Staff,

    "Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, it is the only time you have. So, look for the good in each day. Focus on growth, purpose, peace, love, and gratitude for everything." 

    The words above, originally composed by Karen Salmansohn, seem appropriate to share - especially considering the most recent Executive Order from Governor Brown to extend the school closure through April 28th. The  Perera anticipated changes to how we deliver essential services to our students and the unknowns we are facing with COVID-19 coronavirus only confirms that we will definitely have a new normal.   

    As I am unsure about what the future holds, I know that I have been very proud of our operations team, Sodexo’s Food & Nutrition staff, and First Student’s transportation staff members for their continued efforts. The partnership  with Sodexo and First Student has afforded us an opportunity to provide two meals to numerous GBSD students daily. Our operations team has without pause continued serving our buildings and ensuring that they will be ready whenever our students return.     

    The building administrators and the district leadership team (DLT) are navigating these unchartered waters, so to speak. They have been champions for our students and are working diligently to be prepared for the unknown.  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the abundance of patience and flexibility each of you has exhibited, too. We will get through this by working collaboratively, open to change, being resilient, and embracing the unknown. 

    I know that my expertise in the health field is limited and have yielded to closely following the advice from health care professionals.  In fact, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has worked closely with Governor Brown, and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to provide guidance and to be a resource for each district.  The safety and health of our students and staff is our top priority and we know the unknown factors can cause undue anxiety.  

    We are committed to a continued working relationship to minimize the impact of school closures.  We are assembling resources, leveraging partnerships, and maximizing technology to assist our school community.  This week and into next week - we are committed to providing meals to all GBSD students 18 and under. A list of sites and times are all available on our district website. I know that there are many questions. The District’s Leadership Team is working diligently to compile a list of FAQs. Once the responses are finalized, we will post an FAQ on the district website and notify you. Information is rapidly changing, so please regularly visit the page so you have the latest information.

    Our end goal is to keep every member of our school community healthy and safe.  

    We will continue to adhere to the guidelines issued by the ODE, OHA, and our governor’s office.  Until then, we ask that you, too, adhere to health and safety recommendations from the same officials.  

    While I do not quite have the words to put things in perspective for each of you, I have come to learn that in times of great anxiety or stress, it is best to keep busy, stay focused on purpose, priorities, and love. We are not guaranteed time, so leverage what time you have and maximize the time spent with those who love you and that you love the most. We will get through this. 

    To paraphrase something I read and reposted on social media, while schools may be canceled through April 28, remember that - 

    • FAMILY is not canceled 

    • HIKING is not canceled

    • LAUGHING is not canceled

    • HOPE is not canceled

    • READING is not canceled 

    • LOVING one another is not canceled 

    • DANCING is not canceled 

    • CYCLING is not canceled

    • WALKING your dog is not canceled

    • PEACE is not canceled 

    • The ORIGINAL SOCIAL MEDIA (aka- chatting) is not canceled, either.  

    Let’s embrace what we have while we have it.  

    We, humans, have been a persistent species who have overcome so much throughout time, especially when working together.  With that said, I will encourage you to stay healthy by washing your hands and maintaining a ‘physical’ distance during these unchartered and solemn times.  I cannot encourage you to be ‘socially distant’ because, by nature, we need to interact mentally with one another. It is what defines our humanity and we are stronger together.


    Yours in Education,

    Superintendent of Schools
    Gresham-Barlow School District