Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
In a state press conference today, it was announced that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is encouraging all high schools in Michigan to voluntarily and temporarily transition to remote learning and pause all youth sports for a period of two weeks. Our administration had no advance notice or participation in this conversation, and public schools have not been provided any guidance, strategy, or coordinated effort by the state or Oakland County Health Division to enact an emergency pivot to distance learning. As your superintendent, I am not in a position to evaluate public health in a global way for the Governor, MDHHS, or local health department when each of these entities has the authority to mandate school districts to shut down in whole or in part at any time.
It was reiterated that we all must do our part and I believe that we are already doing just that (and then some), both as a health and safety conscientious school community, but also as a public institution whose primary purpose is to educate and support the well-being of students. In the absence of a specific directive for the recommendations provided today, Clarkston Community Schools will continue to offer in-person instruction for all students enrolled in face-to-face learning, and spring sports may continue to practice and play with weekly COVID testing (unless there is a specific mandate made by the health departments and/or MHSAA to pause). We will also continue with our previously scheduled assessments for next week as recently communicated by the high school administration.
There has been a substantial uptick in positive COVID cases in Oakland County, while just 10 cases in the last month have been determined by contact tracing to have an origin in our school buildings (meaning student-to-student, staff-to-student, or student-to-staff). The vast majority of individuals in isolation or quarantine in our district can be attributed to community spread outside of school, likely during Spring Break activities and gatherings. No restaurant, retail shop, or public gathering space offers the strict adherence to safety protocols that schools do, nor are these businesses being asked to close or curtail their operations.
We will evaluate our ability to continue in-person learning across our district each day on a building-to-building basis. If we have any indication that a building is experiencing a spread within the educational environment, loss of fidelity to our mitigation protocols, or failure of continuity of operations, I will not hesitate to respond immediately to temporarily close any of our schools as necessary. We will not risk an unsafe environment for staff or students. There is no “magic number” as far as individuals in isolation or quarantine, instead, we will closely monitor the situation in each building in order to continue forward thoughtfully and do everything we can as a school district to manage what’s within our sphere of control. We have roughly seven more weeks in the school year and I know we have it in us to finish strong.
Thank you for your continued support,
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.
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