Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
This week, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services announced a three-week emergency order to contain COVID-19 in our state. Closer to home, we have seen more reported cases per 10,000 residents within our school district boundaries than any other school district in Oakland County for five consecutive weeks. When we paused face-to-face instruction, our community reported 70.6 cases per 10,000 residents. Today we are at 123.2 cases per 10,000. As I have expressed in previous reports, the Oakland County Health Department fully supports distance learning in Clarkston as a means of slowing down the spread in our community.
Our school district is irrefutably intertwined with the surrounding area, and what occurs in our community will certainly find its way into our schools. Despite our strict mitigation protocols that have been vetted and approved by county health and safety experts, our system is not impenetrable under current conditions. There have been cases of probable school transmission, and it is likely that this would continue if we returned to school too soon. Virus spread rates rarely decrease as fast as they increase. Factoring in the potential for another spike during the holiday season, it may take several weeks or months before we see our numbers come down. We have been advised that the health department cannot recommend a return to face-to-face instruction in our school district before mid-January.
Virus transmission is just one piece of the puzzle. With staff quarantining in large numbers and a critical shortage of substitute teachers and support staff, we cannot physically sustain our system in this environment — there are simply not enough available staff on hand to ensure the continuity of in-person operations. Recall that at the time we made the decision to pause face-to-face instruction on November 6, we had already transitioned three of our elementary schools to distance learning as a result of staffing challenges. With rates even higher now the number of quarantines, which were previously unsustainable, would only be much worse. A school district can't run without adequate staffing, particularly during a pandemic, when understaffed buildings represent broader safety and educational concerns.
With all of this in mind, we will remain in a distance learning model through the end of the first semester on January 15.
- Distance learning for all K-12 students through January 15 (the end of first semester)
- Early Childhood Center will be closed the week of November 30-December 4.
In December, we will begin evaluating our ability to implement a tiered re-entry for select in-person special education services, athletics, and activities. In order to provide the most informative updates and accommodate holiday breaks, my Superintendent's Reports will be shared only on Friday, December 11 and Friday, January 8.
At our Monday, January 11 Board of Education meeting, I will share our learning model plans for the second semester, which begins on Tuesday, January 19. There is no school on Monday, January 18 in honor of MLK Day.
A Few Reminders
- Board of Education Meeting: Open to the public and held virtually on Monday, November 23 at 5:30pm. Access via Zoom.
- "Grab and Go" Free Meal Pick-Up This Tuesday: Free curbside meal distribution will be provided on Tuesday, November 24 instead of Wednesday, November 25 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. A full week's meals will be provided at Clarkston Junior High School, Sashabaw Middle School, and Andersonville Elementary School from 11am-12:30pm on Tuesday. Our normal Wednesday distribution will resume on Wednesday, December 2.
- Second Semester Transfer Period Now Open: Clarkston Community Schools is providing families an opportunity to decide if they would like their student(s) to continue with their current learning model or request a transfer to a different learning model (example: from Clarkston Virtual to elementary face-to-face learning in buildings with temporary distance learning contingency). Transfer requests for the second semester will only be available until November 29, 2020 at 11:59pm. Requests will not be honored after the deadline date. This choice is a commitment for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year and no mid-semester transfers will be granted. Please be very conscious of this decision.
As always, any questions or concerns you may have can be directed to Fall2020@clarkston.k12.mi.us.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership,
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.
Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.