Principal Supports Community as Schools Gradually Reopen

Principal Supports Community as Schools Gradually Reopen

For school leaders like Tenia Pritchard, COVID-19 has posed unique challenges.

“Whenever you’re a school leader, no matter if it’s the pandemic, no matter if it’s, in-person learning, you always try to be a role model.”  These are the words of Excel Academy Public School Principal Tenia Pritchard. 

Pritchard, the principal at Excel Academy Public School in Southeast Washington, has had to manage the adjustment of reopening schools.

 Over the course of the last few weeks, DCPS has gradually begun to reopen its schools and offer a variety of in-person learning programs.  “In term three, we welcomed students back in for in-person learning. But currently, we only have a limited number of students because we didn’t have a high amount of parents expressing the interest for their scholars to return. So in term four, we will continue to bring back more students and CARE(Canvas , Academics, and Real Engagement) classrooms.”

The first schools to reopen were elementary schools, and Pritchard says it’s been an adjustment.  “The challenge is ensuring that our scholars are receiving all of the social and emotional supports that they need to help them during this time because children need the opportunity to work with and engage with, you know, engaged with their peers, so they’re missing that.”  According to the Psychiatric Times,  in a survey done amongst children, difficulties in concentrating, boredom, and irritability were the most prevalent changes in students during the quarantine.

Along with making sure that students are engaged, Pritchard says it has been a challenge catering to the needs of all the parties.  But with the adjustment, this is nothing new for Pritchard. “ I’ve been in leadership for a long time. And that’s typical, that’s what we do in leadership. So in terms of COVID-19, it is different in terms of leading a school through emergency response. But that’s kind of the day in the life of leadership, you have to manage and engage all stakeholders. And then you have to do it in a way where stakeholders feel that they have a voice.”

Through the adjustment, the community has been supportive says Pritchard.  “We partnered with Georgetown Presbyterian Church and so during  the pandemic, we have provided resources for our families in terms of supply distribution and food distribution days, which occurred monthly, in order to give the people in the community resources to support them during this time. So we’ve just used this time as the school to provide outreach and support to our families.”