Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
Today's update is information-dense; however, I want to provide you with the full picture of where we are at in terms of current virus rates and resulting quarantines in our schools as we head into our last week before Spring Break.
COVID in Our Community
We are seeing an increasing trend of positive cases within the Clarkston area, which is reflective of our greater county and state. Though these numbers are nowhere near the numbers we saw in November when we were forced to move to temporary distance learning, they are a concern nonetheless. We will continue to monitor with our local health department affiliates as the Spring progresses; however, no recommendations have been made to adjust our instructional modes at this time. Some have asked if we plan to move to temporary distance learning as a mitigation strategy before or after Spring Break. We have evaluated potential preemptive school closures with the Oakland County Health Division and have determined that any benefit of keeping students home for a week or two of distance learning would not outweigh the educational loss associated with tremendous disruption involved in moving between learning models for students from face-to-face to distance learning.
Quarantining Within Our Schools
With rising virus rates, we have experienced increased incidences of quarantining within the district. We currently have 483 students and 29 staff members that are on quarantine (see the dashboard on our website to sort by building and date). Although this number is high, the actual number of school-to-school contacts is under 10. The protocols and mitigation efforts employed by the district are working and we will continue to move forward as long as face-to-face instruction doesn't represent a significant factor in COVID spread. As of today, we are successfully sustaining our day-to-day operations. All of our teachers and school staff who opted to be vaccinated are currently in the vaccination schedule or are fully vaccinated, which increases our ability to keep schools open. It is important to remember that quarantining represents a major tool in our mitigation efforts to suppress COVID spread within our buildings and community.
Supports for Students in Quarantine and Isolation
In the face-to-face learning model, all instruction is directed to the students in the physical classroom; however, any student who must be out of school due to isolation or quarantine may listen in to the instruction through Google Meet or Zoom. As COVID cases in our area rise, some families whose students are enrolled in face-to-face instruction have requested to stay out of school and engage with their classes remotely. Unfortunately, it is not feasible for teachers to simultaneously teach students in the classroom and at home. 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. Important learning is happening in our classrooms, and our teachers want to see your students in class. 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) should stay home with the assurance that our staff will do our best to provide continuous instruction in some form.
State Guidelines for Public Schools
The state has mandated that public schools must be in-person at least 20 hours per week to receive continued full funding of operations this year. Obviously, our school district cannot operate at any level without continued support from the State of Michigan. Both the legislature and Governor have enacted this legislation into law. House Bill 4048 was signed on March 9 and requires districts to implement the 20 hours per week by March 22.
We are actively pursuing plans for Summer programming and a Fall education "Push" that will involve increased support services both educational and socioemotional for our students, lower class sizes, and continued offerings in both in-person and virtual learning. If you would like your child to transfer back to the building from Clarkston Virtual, or to Clarkston Virtual from face-to-face instruction, please complete a Transfer Request Form as soon as possible.
In the immediate term, it is my intent to keep Clarkston Schools operating both our virtual and face-to-face options through the end of the school year. Due to quarantine, we may be required to implement temporary distance learning in some of our buildings or limit services in response to localized outbreaks or an overwhelming number of students and staff put in quarantine. Additionally, we may also be directed at some point by either state or local officials to modify our in-person services through their advisements, orders, laws, and directives.
I hope that all of this information gives you a good sense of where we are at and where we're going as a district. As always, your questions and feedback are welcomed and the best way to connect with us is by email at email@example.com.
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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Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Director of Marketing and Community Relations (248) 623-5460.