Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
In the interest of communicating in a timely and transparent manner, I want to inform you of some significant shifts that have occurred since I published my Weekly Superintendent's Report on Friday afternoon.
- Late Friday evening, we were informed that the Oakland County Health Division increased its risk determination level to E — the highest level — noting that there are now 150 or more cases per million population in the county. On Monday, October 26, the county was a Level C. We anticipated a change in risk determination to Level D (which calls for consideration of a "reduced density" learning model, like our current secondary hybrid model), but did not expect that our risk determination would move from C to E in less than one week. Though this is one of many metrics we are following, it is concerning because of the rapid and steep decline it represents.
- Between Friday, October 30 and today (Monday, November 2), we were notified of 13 new COVID positive cases in our district. While contact tracing is still in progress, we expect that this will bring our total number of quarantined and isolated staff and students to well over 500. We will update our public dashboard accordingly, so you can see where these cases have occurred. It is important to note that individuals who have not tested positive but are isolating due to symptoms, or those who are quarantining as a result of exposure to a positive case in their personal circle are not reflected in our school-associated case records.
- Approximately 10% of our district's teaching staff is out of the classroom under quarantine. Andersonville Elementary and Independence Elementary have been hardest hit with staff reductions due to quarantine. For this reason, both Andersonville Elementary and Independence Elementary will transition to temporary distance learning for all students from Wednesday, November 4 through Friday, November 13. In order to allow students to gather personal items and learning materials, these buildings will have a regularly scheduled school day tomorrow with all available staff from throughout the district filling in as needed. Principals and teachers will be communicating specific plans and information shortly.
On Friday, I said, "Quarantining and separating students and staff from school in large numbers can be very disruptive to the overall school and learning process. We currently have 18 positive cases and 135 individuals in quarantine across the district. With over 7,000 total students and almost 1,000 staff members, we're still at fighting strength for overall day-to-day learning and building operations; however, if the cases continue to climb, our current modalities may not be sustainable."
Though our strict mitigation protocols in school have prevented the transmission of the virus within our buildings, our ability to adequately staff our buildings declined with remarkable speed in the past few days. Today we deployed every available staff member to the buildings to fill the gaps, and we are doing everything within our power to stay open. Still, the possibility that we could remain in our current learning modality through the end of the first semester (which ends on Friday, January 15) now appears unlikely as the contact tracing process reaches an unsustainable level.
Due to the prevalence of the virus in our concentric rings of data, the dramatic increase in active cases in our schools, and the significant challenges of maintaining the integrity of our day-to-day operations, I am recommending that you prepare your family for a possible transition back to temporary distance learning over the next several weeks, possibly with little notice.
Just a reminder that a full week's worth of healthy "Grab and Go" breakfasts and lunches will be provided free of charge for all distance learners on Wednesdays from 11am-12:30pm at Sashabaw Middle School and Clarkston Junior High School.
We will continue closely monitoring the situation in each of our buildings and will respond accordingly. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and flexibility.
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.