Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
As promised, I have an update on our district's plans to fully reopen schools. After consulting with the Oakland County Health Division, MDHHS, our Board of Education, and administrative leadership, it is my decision to move forward with our previously communicated transition to full face-to-face instruction, with slight adjustments. A number of factors influenced the decision, including improving county-level COVID-19 case data, reduced quarantine from 14 days to 10 days, continued hiring of support staff for sustained operations, and the beginning of the availability of a COVID vaccine for educators.
Beginning Monday, February 1 through at least Friday, February 26, all students currently enrolled in face-to-face instruction will follow the following schedule (according to traditional building hours).
Elementary (Grades Y5-5)
- Face-to-face instruction for all students Monday through Friday
Secondary (Grades 6-12)
- Face-to-face instruction for all students Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday
- Distance learning Wednesday (synchronous or asynchronous, with staff in the classroom and students at home)
Clarkston Virtual staff and students will remain in their current instructional setting.
Our elementaries have had the benefit of previously navigating a full return to school, and I believe that this model is sustainable at the elementary level, where cohorting is possible and virus activity is low. Secondary will remain in distance learning on Wednesday to allow for a continued gradual transition to 100% capacity. This decision to advance in phases back to full face-to-face acknowledges the complex challenges that the secondary learning environment presents, such as larger classes, heavier traffic in the hallways, and the lack of cohorting.
Clarkston Community Schools remains focused on providing a safe environment for our students and staff and will continue to follow our local and state health officials' direction and the mitigation protocols outlined in our recently updated Return to School Toolkit and Return to School Protocol Video. In the toolkit, you will find processes and protocols related to:
- Mandatory mask policy
- Classroom configuration and social distancing
- Cleaning protocols
- Free breakfast and lunch for all students (in school, and "Grab and Go" curbside pick-up)
- Transportation services
- Symptomatic students on campus
- Reporting absences
- Returning to school following illness or quarantine
We know that with proper precautions, schools are safe and the COVID transmission rates in schools are low. In the fall, we saw very few cases of CCS staff members or students transmitting the virus to each other while at school. But, staff and students do become infected outside of school, and every time this happens, healthy staff members and students who were in close contact with an infected person at school must quarantine as a precaution.
Strict adherence to our public health protocols both in school and outside of school and personal responsibility play a critical role in keeping our schools open.
If your family is interacting with others outside your immediate circle, please take precautions to avoid contracting the virus and bringing it into school. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and postpone or limit gatherings and unnecessary travel. Stay home if you are ill, and get tested if you experience COVID-19 symptoms.
We are grateful for the sacrifices you have made and will continue to make to keep our community safe. Now is not the time to let your guard down.
If, in the next month, our school system can support bringing all secondary students back to school for five days a week, we will transition to full face-to-face instruction on Monday, March 1. If not, we will postpone this final phase and move forward when the time is right. In the weeks ahead, I'll be looking for continued stability, as well as feedback on your family's experiences in the form of an upcoming Check-Up Survey.
As we gain ground in our concentric rings of data, my focus is on holding that ground without taking steps backward. We will respond to the status of each building and adapt our programming in real-time to meet any challenges. Our path forward may require adjustments and periods of hybrid learning, but I do not intend or foresee a return to district-wide distance learning. We will continue to be vigilant, thoughtful, and flexible in our response, and I will keep you updated with periodic reports.
Nothing about this pandemic has been easy and we are all "COVID fatigued." My assurances to you are that I will continue to work relentlessly for the academic success and well-being of our students. I will, to the greatest extent possible, continue to create a learning environment where your children are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported. I will listen to and consider your perspectives, and I will honor your family's experiences.
If you have school or classroom-specific questions, please contact your teacher or principal by email. If you have general questions or comments for our district, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Some have also asked how they can give back to our schools right now. Consider becoming a substitute teacher, aide, custodian, or food service worker in our district, or invite someone you know who would be a good fit to check out our openings at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/jobs. You can also complete our district's School Volunteer Interest Form if you would be willing to support our day-to-day operations on a temporary, as-needed basis.
We value collaboration with families and community partners and we are grateful for your support.
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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