Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
When I made the recommendation to begin the year in a temporary distance learning format, the decision was made with the goal of returning to our school buildings as soon as it was feasible to do so. I did not set an end-date for distance learning; instead, I have evaluated on a weekly basis and implemented a tiered system for reentry.
Since making that recommendation in early August, I have closely monitored multiple metrics in collaboration with the Oakland County Health Division epidemiologists and my fellow Oakland County superintendents, particularly those in the north end of the county. I am also receiving near-daily school decision-making guidance from the state and CDC, and hearing from our teachers and parents on how things are going on the front lines.
Last week, I met three times with Oakland County Health officials and my team toured our school campus with the district's two public health nurses. Each week, I meet with the epidemiologist to review data that pertains to our school district. With the weekly COVID-19 reports from the county, we know that our healthcare capacity and infrastructure for testing and tracing is very strong. We also learned the severity of COVID-19 in our county is low. Specifically, within our school district boundaries, we have seen the current cases per 10,000 go from 10.9 two weeks ago to 8.6 as of yesterday. The data indicates that our school district is in a good place for offering the face-to-face option for our families.
We will continue to monitor the numbers each week with the county health department. The information behind the numbers is very important. Knowing whether an increase in cases includes evidence of transmission in our schools will help us and the health department make important decisions together.
I am proud to report that, with your support, our tiered reentry has thus far been successful. In our first two weeks of school, there have been no new COVID-19 cases reported in any of our district's Tier 1 programs. The first tier of reentry includes:
- All district staff
- Early Childhood Center students
- Students with IEPs (according to their IEP services)
- Weekly meal distribution services
- Extracurricular clubs, marching band, and athletics
All of these Tier 1 groups are observing strict safety protocols and are being monitored for potential virus exposure and contact tracing purposes. I believe that we have a thoughtful and pragmatic approach to reentry that does not risk the safety of our educational community or impose a major disruption due to contact tracing or quarantine efforts that could shut down schools and inhibit continuity of learning.
Provided we maintain our current trajectory, I am confident recommending to our Board of Education on Monday, September 28 that the district begins transitioning from distance learning to face-to-face instruction in October. If this recommendation is approved by the Board of Education, we would begin our transition during the week of October 5. In the weeks ahead, your principal and I will be sharing more about our face-to-face plans and protocols (which are based on our Board-approved Fall 2020 Return to School Plan).
As we communicated in August, all Clarkston Virtual students will continue learning at home until the new semester begins on Tuesday, January 19, or until the end of the school year in June, depending on their preference. Clarkston Virtual families who wish to return to face-to-face learning in January will need to communicate their decision in November. More information will be provided to Clarkston Virtual families as we get closer to that time.
I appreciate the grace and support that all of you have shown, especially in the past two weeks. I will continue to move our district forward, making decisions that allow us to operate safely and in the best interests of our students, staff, and families.
Superintendent of Schools
Questions? Email us at Fall2020@clarkston.k12.mi.us
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.