Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
Last Friday, we awoke to a heavy blanket of snow in Clarkston and as is the case on mornings like this, the 4am question was, "Snow day or no snow day?" Of all the decisions I've had to make this year, the decision to call a snow day last Friday was an easy one.
Not only did the road conditions merit a school closure, but collectively, we all could use a little "snow day magic." If you grew up in Michigan, you know that there is nothing more exciting on a cold February morning than an unexpected day off! Of course, the expected days off, like next week's Mid-Winter Break (Monday, February 15 and Tuesday, February 16) are also pretty fun.
As we head into the break, I remain cautiously optimistic. We are holding strong more than three weeks into in-person learning.
You can see in this graph that the virus rates in our immediate area continue to trend in a positive direction. Staff and student quarantine levels are stable and manageable. To date, more than 35% of our staff has secured an appointment to be vaccinated or are already in the vaccination cycle, and new appointments continue to open up for our educators as part of the state's prioritized vaccine rollout.
Students who are enrolled in our Face-to-Face learning model have settled into predictable routines and are benefiting from real interactions with their teachers and peers. They are also participating in meaningful hands-on experiential lessons like small group collaborations, science labs, studio art workshops, Construction Tech building projects, P.E. team sports, and more. Second semester grading for secondary students will look like our traditional grading structure with some adjustments for grace (similar to the first semester), and our principals will be sharing more about this next week.
Our Clarkston Virtual students are thriving, having formed strong connections with their teacher mentors. Jessica Sorensen's Clarkston Virtual fourth graders enjoyed fun Valentine's Day-themed games and activities each day this week during their daily morning Zoom meetings.One of Mrs. Sorensen's Valentine's Day traditions is to create a poster of her students' baby photos and have the students "Guess That Baby." She adapted this tradition for her virtual students by compiling baby photos into a slideshow that she could show the class. As always, the game was a hit! I was delighted to hear that many Clarkston Virtual students, including Mrs. Sorensen's, also exchanged Valentines this week by dropping off cards for their classmates at school. Mentors then exchanged the cards and each student returned to pick-up them up.
The reality of the world we are living in, even almost a full year into the pandemic, is that there are still new transitions and adaptations to get used to. Yes, we are largely back together now, but it is nothing like the last time we were together at school in March 2020. So much has changed for our students and staff, and whether in-person or fully remote, our new learning environment demands much of each individual person.
Mid-Winter Break could not have come at a better time to give all of our students and staff a much-needed period of rest. I hope you enjoy this long weekend doing the things that make you happiest. As you spread Valentine's Day love, don't forget to also treat yourself - you deserve it!
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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