Superintendent’s Message: Dr. Debbi Burdick, Cave Creek Unified School District

Our typical school years start with new school supplies and school clothes, an excitement for students to reconnect with their schoolmates, the opportunity to meet new friends and the anticipation of being in new classrooms with their new teachers. Of course, this year that is not the case. Education in 2020 looks very little like it ever has before and the dilemma of how to meet all the needs of our students, from preschoolers to high schoolers, is the focus. The school supplies are staying home wherever the students do their online work, at least for the start of the year. Reconnecting with classmates most likely will happen virtually, as well as meeting new teachers and participation in clubs. Open Houses and Curriculum nights will be online. Teachers may be teaching from their empty classrooms or from their homes with the challenge of how to bring a group of students together as a functioning classroom team while they only see each other on a screen.

The purpose of school is not only to teach the required curriculum and academics, but ultimately to also to prepare our students to be good citizens. Schools do that by multiple valuable experiences within classroom groups — with sharing, teamwork and social interactions provided at lunchtime and recess for our youngest students, and lunchtime, clubs and athletics for our older students. This is a critical piece of school interactions, but educators are masters at doing what is best for their students and they will creatively and skillfully bring their online classrooms together as functioning and supportive teams.

Our schools know that the social-emotional well-being of our students is critical. Sadly, we have heard from so many parents that their children miss school so much that they are depressed, withdrawn and frightened as the pandemic continues. Our public schools have effective resources and supports for these students — parents should not delay and call their local schools to speak to a counselor or social worker for support for their children. Schools also know of community resources for the family as a whole. Use your local schools as a resource during these difficult times as a bridge to when we are all able to finally physically return to school safely, and life goes back to “normal.”

Resources to Know:

Foothills Foodbank: Food and other family assistance programs

CCUSD counselors: Local counseling resources for individuals or families

Neighbors in Need: Counseling resources

FindHelpPhoenix: Lists free or almost free services in Maricopa County

This column appeared in the September issue of CITYSunTimes. To contact Dr. Burdick, call 480.575.2000. For details on the Cave Creek Unified School District, visit

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