From the Superintendent: New COVID Guidance
Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
Our schools are a microcosm of the larger community, and so with the uptick in cases statewide, we are also learning of many new cases within our school district. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has recently announced the following new guidance. Please read this carefully, as well as some important reminders for parents of students enrolled in face-to-face learning.
Quarantine Period Reinstated to 14 Days
Due to increasing case rates and variant spread in Michigan, MDHHS has reinstated a standard 14-day quarantine for close contacts of COVID-19 cases (within six feet of the positive person for 15 minutes or more.) This will remove the option of reducing quarantine to 10 days. Beginning Thursday, April 8, any students or staff who are placed in quarantine must be excluded from school and all school-related activities for 14 days. Anyone who is currently in quarantine may return to school on the date indicated by our contact tracers (there is no need to extend your quarantine to 14 days if we have already given you a return date). Isolation of positive cases remains at 10 days. Exemptions to quarantine include:
- Anyone who has tested positive (PCR) for COVID-19 in the last 90 days. A copy of the test result must be provided to the school.
- Anyone who has received the full dose requirements of the COVID vaccine and is two weeks past their last dose. Documentation must be provided to be exempt from quarantine.
Please note that anyone who meets the above criteria for exemption but who develops COVID symptoms needs to stay home for 10 days or test.
Weekly COVID-19 Testing for Athletes
In accordance with MDHHS guidance, all children ages 13 - 19 years of age, who wish to participate in school-sponsored athletics must participate in weekly COVID-19 testing (rapid antigen testing), and complete the associated forms as provided by the Clarkston Athletics Department This includes all students, whether learning virtually or in-person, who wish to participate in sports. Testing is offered at no cost to the student-athlete. The MDHHS states that failure or refusal to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing will disqualify the student from participation in school sponsored athletics.
The rapid antigen test is not a PCR test. If a student-athlete tests positive during the rapid test, they will be sent home and asked to follow up with a PCR test by their healthcare provider within 48 hours per MDHHS guidelines. While awaiting PCR test results, the student-athlete and all siblings must quarantine from school and school activities.
If a student-athlete has tested positive (PCR) for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, a note from a physician indicating that test result will exempt them from testing (please email firstname.lastname@example.org). There is no exemption from testing if a student is vaccinated against COVID-19, and a negative rapid test does not remove mask requirements. Spring sports coaches will be providing additional information about test dates and times.
Parents of Clarkston Community Education sports participants ages 13 - 19 will receive a separate communication regarding testing, as the MDHHS testing requirements also apply to recreational, travel, and club athletes.
Face-to-Face Attendance Reminders
Please do not send your children to school if they themselves or anyone in the household are experiencing symptoms. Also, If your student or any member of your household has tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting COVID-19 test results, please exclude all members of the family from school and school-related activities until a negative PCR test result is obtained. When a student comes to school while they are waiting for the results of a COVID test, a positive result means that every close contact of that student now needs to quarantine for 14 days.
When you call your building’s attendance line to report a student absence, please leave a detailed message with all the pertinent information, including:
- Student’s first and last name.
- Any symptoms the student is experiencing, and how long they have exhibited these symptoms. If you are aware that the student has been exposed to a positive case of COVID, please let us know that as well.
- If the student will be absent due to illness, please also keep siblings home. Provide the names of all siblings and the schools they attend.
- If the student will be absent due to the need to quarantine after being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 outside your home, please give us the date of the last exposure to that positive person.
- If the student will be absent due to the need to quarantine after a household member has tested positive for COVID, please let us know if they are able to separate/isolate completely from that positive family member in the home (no shared eating space along with living area or bathroom). If you are able to isolate, please give the date the separation from each other began.
- Face-to-face learners are expected to be in school if they are not ill or quarantining, and will be marked absent if they are not physically in attendance. Following Spring Break, some families have requested for their students to stay out of school and engage with their classes remotely. Distance learning is not an option, as it is not feasible for teachers to simultaneously teach students in the classroom and at home. In addition, our front office staff are currently consumed with the critical task of triaging COVID-related absence reports and cataloging “self-selected” absences creates an undue burden on our already fully consumed staff. As we have expressed in previous communications, important learning is happening in our classrooms, and our teachers want to see your students in class. Assessments, projects, presentations, musical ensembles, and labs are conducted at school, and teachers cannot accommodate missed in-person experiences if the student is out of school for any non-COVID-related absence. Of course, it goes without saying that if your child is ill or symptomatic, they (and all family members who attend or work at our schools) must stay home with the assurance that our staff will do our best to provide continuous instruction in some form.
I am hopeful that the increased number of vaccinations will begin to blunt the recent increases that we have seen in COVID in Michigan. Regardless of what happens, we will be actively monitoring and acting as necessary in the best interest of our students and community, while enforcing strict mitigation protocols. Our schools are still the safest place for students to be, and we do not expect a directive by the state or the Oakland County Health Division to close school. This does not preclude us from instituting temporary distance learning in individual elementary classrooms or school buildings if operations become unsustainable. I can assure you that we will not hesitate to act swiftly to manage any emerging “hotspots” around the district.
Thank you for your continued support. Your partnership is critical to our ability to effectively provide a safe environment and continuity of learning in our schools.
Dr. Shawn Ryan
Superintendent of Schools
About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have a virtual academy, an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.
Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.
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