Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
When we reopened schools with elementary cohorts and hybrid learning for Grades 6-12, I committed to the continuous evaluation of multiple metrics to determine our next steps as a school district. These metrics represent "concentric rings of data," with our school district at the center, surrounded by the Clarkston community, Oakland County, and the state of Michigan. In my weekly meetings with Oakland County Health Department (OCHD) epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists, I review these indicators in their entirety as a whole, and as individual data points for trend data over time. I am also taking regular pulse checks from students, staff, and parents, in order to better understand the strengths and challenges of our current learning environment.
The decision to return to face-to-face instruction in October was based on several weeks of data that supported (and continues to support) our gradual re-entry plan. The strong positive trend that led to our reopening has now tapered off as our concentric rings of data reported increases in positive cases this week. It is important to note that one week's numbers, whether up or down, would not cause an immediate shift in our operations. Rather, it is the local and regional county trends over time, as well as national data on school transmission, that are the best indicators for setting the district's learning format. These are at the core of our decision-making process.
We have developed a tool to help communicate our direction as we make adjustments in our learning environments. I will share a weekly report with our visual "Decision Meter" to give you an idea of what I am seeing in my review of our concentric rings of data, and what I am hearing in my meetings with OCHD epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists. Movement between colors on the Decision Meter will be guided by public health conditions, our ability to maintain program integrity in our current learning format, and any local or state direction.
As you will see, it is my assessment that CCS is still well within the safe zone to continue having school face-to-face in our present cohort and hybrid formats.
We want to stay in this zone and offer face-to-face instruction. Please continue to self-screen for symptoms, stay home if you are not well, report all absences, and disclose if your household has been directly affected by a COVID diagnosis (this helps greatly with contact tracing efforts). I also cannot stress enough that personal responsibility is key, and activities outside of school impact our ability to maintain the integrity of our school environment. Though we did see new cases in our school district this week, in each one of these cases, OCHD contact tracing showed that the virus was not contracted or transmitted to others at school.
With stringent safety precautions like mask wearing, handwashing, social distancing, and increased cleaning in place, we are effectively mitigating the spread in school. I implore you to continue incorporating these measures into your personal lives, especially as you consider gatherings during this beautiful fall weekend. Please do your part to help us keep kids in school!
As always, please email any questions you may have to Fall2020@clarkston.k12.mi.us.
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.
Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.