Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
As you might guess, 2020 has provided schools with some unique learning experiences. It is safe to say that none of our educators (myself included) ever took a course on pandemic schooling in college. Instead, we are writing that textbook everyday and filling the pages with ingenious new ideas for educating students. I see my staff making a strong effort to provide exceptional learning for our students everyday, and I see you, as students and parents, doing your best to adapt and engage.
I'm writing to offer some updates and clarification on our progress forward in the plan to reopen schools. As I shared last Friday, I will recommend to the Board of Education on Monday, September 28 that the district begins a gradual return to face-to-face instruction beginning the week of October 5. My meetings with county epidemiologists this week were positive and the information provided to me continues to support this recommendation. Virus cases in Clarkston continue to decrease over previous reporting, and the most recent Oakland County Health Department report (7.7 cases per 10,000 people within our school district boundaries) indicates a stable trend. Also this week, researchers at Brown University, working with school administrators, released their first set of data from a new National COVID-19 School Response Data Dashboard, created to track coronavirus cases. It found low levels of infection among students and teachers and indicated that school transmission is much lower than anticipated. In fact, all evidence suggests that this is our best window of time for moving into the next tier of reopening.
Also, as part of my recommendation, I will be asking the Board to give teachers time to prepare their classrooms on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 30. If approved, there will be no instruction on Wednesday; however office hours will be held from 8:30am - 11:30am.
With the Board's approval, we will begin our gradual return according to the following framework, and proceed thoughtfully into the remainder of the calendar year with continuous re-evaluation. This structure allows our youngest students to come back to school first during the week of October 5, with secondary students following on a temporary staggered schedule on October 12. School day start and end times for both face-to-face and distance learners will be shared by building principals.
We know that elementary and secondary learners are not the same, nor do they have the same building risk profile when it comes to the virus. Add to that the volume of students traveling from class to class during passing periods at the secondary level, and it is clear that we cannot take a "one size fits all" approach to reopening our doors.
Our elementary class structure lends itself to the effective cohorting of students, which helps mitigate virus spread and allows for accurate contact tracing. At the secondary level, a staggered re-entry enables us to bring students back in smaller groups while we monitor virus trends and the success of our reentry.
I know you are anxiously awaiting more information about how we will make the transition to face-to-face instruction. Provided my recommendation is approved by the Board of Education on Monday, we will be sharing a Return to School Family Toolkit and video next week.
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.