Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
At the time of my last update, virus rates in our immediate community were on a steady incline and the threat of a holiday spike loomed large. Our district transitioned to a temporary distance learning contingency and this stop-gap measure served its purpose in mitigating the spread of the virus. While our priority and preference has always been face-to-face instruction, I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the tireless efforts of our teachers, who have ensured a rich and supportive academic experience for students during this transitional time of distance learning. Our educators have shown grace and flexibility at every turn.
This grace and flexibility will be extended to our students as it relates to grading. You may have already heard from your child that there will be no comprehensive final exams for the first semester and an option to forgo a grade for a credit-only will be offered. Secondary principals will communicate more on this next week.
The mental, physical, and emotional health of all of our students is important to us, and we are committed to serving students and families in the ways they need most. In the weeks since my last update, I have continued to monitor the virus progression with Oakland County Health Division authorities in order to determine our best possible path forward.
I am encouraged by a precipitous drop in virus rates within our school district boundaries (over 60% drop from our Fall peak - see the latest data) and the news that educators will soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1B of our state's vaccine prioritization schedule.
In addition, the CDC and MDHHS's updated guidance reducing quarantine from 14 to 10 days is a positive step toward keeping students and staff in school. With all of this in mind, this is our plan to transition to face-to-face instruction according to the following timeline.
Returning to Face-to-Face Instruction
Monday, January 11
- Students with IEPs in Level 3-4 programs will resume in-person services and instruction Monday through Friday from 8:30am-11:30am, with distance learning in the afternoon Monday through Wednesday.
- All other students will continue distance learning through January 15.
Thursday, January 14 and Friday, January 15
- Half-days of in-person learning for Level 3-4 students
- Half-days of distance learning for all other students
Monday, January 18 — No School for Staff/Students (MLK Day)
Tuesday, January 19
Wednesday, January 20 — All Y5-12 Students Distance Learning
- Elementary students will participate in distance learning from 8:30am-3pm with lunch from 11:25am-12:25pm.
- Secondary students will continue the traditional school schedule.
Thursday, January 21
- All elementary students in buildings
- Secondary students with last names A-K return to buildings, all other secondary students distance learning
Friday, January 22
- All elementary students in buildings
- Secondary students with last names L-Z in buildings, all other secondary students distance learning
Week of January 25
Repeat hybrid schedule with all Y5-12 students distance learning on Wednesday, January 27.
Beginning Monday, February 1 — All students Y5-12 in buildings, five full days a week
The two-week period of hybrid learning with district-wide Distance Learning Wednesdays is intended to be a stepping stone toward our full face-to-face return. We want to return to the classroom and stay there safely. The conditions necessary for us to make the move from our initial hybrid schedules to full face-to-face learning on February 1 include the following:
- Continued stability or reduction in virus activity within our community and Oakland County.
- Continued ability to operate our schools without major disruption from quarantine.
- Continued support from our Governor and President-Elect to return all schools to face-to-face learning.
I believe that this timeline provides our best hope for long-term sustainability. We will proceed with cautious optimism, knowing that if we struggle to maintain the integrity of our learning environment during our first two weeks back in a hybrid format, we will have to reevaluate and potentially adjust our plans.
Preparing for the Path Forward
It is critical that you and your family are aware of the role you play in helping to keep our district safe and healthy. Next week, we will provide information and resources to refresh your knowledge of the necessary processes and protocols we employ in our buildings, including:
- Mask wearing & social distancing
- Cleaning and sanitizing
- Health screening, quarantining, and reporting absences
- Limiting visitors
Our Updated Return to School Family Toolkit will also address our plans for continuing our free student meal program and resuming transportation service, and we will be sharing building-specific information next week.
Lastly, no pandemic plan would be complete without recognizing the tremendous "mental preparation" required of all of us as we move forward. You may feel anxious or hesitant to begin this walk with us. You are not alone. As a starting point in our transition, we can all look to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the powerful message he left with us. The civil rights leader stood up in a time of turbulence and unrest, not unlike the world we're living in today, and acknowledged his uncertainties, fears, and the magnitude of the work that awaited him. But he had faith. Dr. King said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Our path forward starts with a single step together.
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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