We were told by many health experts in the nation and in our state that the holiday season would bring a rise in positive cases for COVID. As we are into our second week of school after the break, that is holding true for our community. As of Monday afternoon, we had 144 students and 17 staff across the district on quarantine due to being close contacts of family members testing positive or in some cases a close contact of a student that became positive. In some cases, as with our youngest learners at Lincoln and Douglas, we may have to close an entire classroom for a period of time because contract tracing in those classes is very difficult to determine.
The major concern is always the health and well-being of all students and staff and your/our families. The goal is to continue in person learning. However, we will consider putting the district back into remote learning if it becomes necessary. Factors that affect that decision will be based on the number of students that are out of school and the number of staff. If we continue to see a rise in the number of staff having to be excluded from school, it will put us in a very difficult position to continue with in person instruction. Again, our goal is to maintain our current situation.
Substitute teachers are scarce. We had a significant shortage prior to COVID, and that has only changed for the worse. However, it’s not only teachers but support staff that help run the operations of the district as well. Our staff has done a great job of covering for teachers, custodians, food service and transportation. We will continue to do that as the need arises and as long as we can.
I share this with you so that as parents you will always be prepared for students having to come home for a period of time. Even though we are in session today, things can change quickly. You should always have your plan in place for remote learning for any given week. We will do our best to give you notice, but we may not be able to give you a week’s notice. It may only be a couple of days’ notice or an
immediate notice in the case of an entire classroom being closed. The affect of the virus moves slowly at times, but then it could increase in intensity over a two-day period as well.
Our decisions to stay open or go to remote learning are based on discussions at the administrative level with input from our nursing staff and the health department. We will hope for the best, but we all should be prepared for remote learning as each week comes upon us.
I am optimistic that the impact of the virus will begin to fade in the coming weeks especially as more people are vaccinated. In the meantime, we all need to do our part in watching where we go and how we gather. I will not play the role of the COVID police for community members or staff, but we all have a responsibility in keeping our schools open and our businesses running in our community.
Please take care, and let’s all work together for a better 2021 in our schools and the community.