ACSD#1 COVID-19 Update, September 21, 2020

ACSD#1 Families,

The school district continues to manage the occurrences of COVID-19 positive cases in our community, and we have been able to manage with minimal disruption the number of people who have been quarantined as a result of their close contact with a person with a known positive COVID-19 test.

Last week we had 30 students and 14 staff members affected by the identification of COVID-19 as a result of close contact.  We had one staff member and one student who tested positive for COVID-19.  Some of the 30 students were given health orders to quarantine primarily because a member in their immediate household tested positive. A few students were quarantined as a result of a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 and was in close contact with students during the school day. The number of individuals affected were spread across the district in small numbers.  In other words, there was not a large outbreak in a single building.

The staff member who tested positive was not exhibiting symptoms, but tested positive as a result of testing conducted at the University of Wyoming.  Regardless of whether a person is showing symptoms or not, it is imperative that we take precautions when a positive case is identified to ensure the health and safety of our entire community.

School Board to Review Data on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Positive Cases of COVID-19 are trending upward, and the number of positive tests in the county exceeded 5% over the weekend.  County and state health officials monitor this metric as an indicator of further community spread, and the school district will monitor this number closely during the next 7 – 10 days.  The school board will meet on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. to review the current COVID-19 data metrics, and discuss the implications with the County Health Officer, Dr. Jean Allais.  The school board will also review the educational progress that students are making during the first few weeks of school.  This meeting will be streamed live on Zoom.

The school board, administration, and parents are anxious to get students back in school buildings full time at the secondary level (middle school and high school).  The school board will review the data this week, and they will consider a move to Tier I (full time) at their next regularly scheduled board meeting on October 14, 2020.

Implementing Precaution and Instilling Hope

Albany County had a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the past 7 – 10 days, but the school system and the community continue to manage the incidences by responding appropriately to known cases.  The process of identification and quarantining possible close contact cases is not a novel containment strategy, and the Wyoming Department of Health is providing excellent guidance for school nurses and building level administrators. The school district will continue to implement mitigation strategies of maintaining a 6 foot physical distance, wearing face coverings, implementing proper hand hygiene, and ensuring satisfactory ventilation in school facilities.  The strategies are working, and I am mindful that even though we need to be diligent for the foreseeable future, there will be a time when we have greater certainty about COVID-19 and will know better how to manage the disease.

Please Do Your Part

The daily health checks will continue to be a part of mitigation strategies, and nearly 60% of parents are reporting every day.  The school board established a metric of greater than 90% daily reporting for our community as a condition to stay in Tier I and II.  We have some work to do in this area, but I am confident that we can increase the daily percentage. The daily health checks are a reminder to stay home when ill and an assurance to our community that we are collectively being responsible to protect our children and our community from the potential spread.

The good news is that we have been able to manage the incidence of COVID-19 with limited disruption. The day to day challenges of keeping staff and students safe sometimes take precedence over our focus on education, but we know whatever we do to keep our community safe will be beneficial for our students in the future.  We are working to improve the virtual learning model, and we will continue to strive to provide the best learning opportunities we can for our students.


ACSD#1 COVID-19 Update -- Monitoring Metrics

The school board approved a document at last night's school board meeting that outlines the metrics the school district is monitoring to assess the spread or transmission of COVID-19 in our community.  The following table is included in the document and shows the health metrics the district is using to maintain school operations in Tier I and Tier II.  Even though the school community has been affected by other positive cases of COVID-19 in the entire community, the school district has not had a positive case in one of the classrooms or school buildings for the first 10 days of school.  Some students and staff have been ordered to quarantine, but with the assistance of county and state health officials, we have been able to manage the possible spread of COVID-19. (Please see the COVID-19 update on September 8, 2020 for additional information.)

With the increasing number of active cases in our community, we are well aware of the presence of COVID-19 in our community. The school district is implementing effective mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of transmission, but we continue to ask and remind our community to be responsible and practices these same effective strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community: maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, using face coverings, washing hands frequently, and staying home when ill. 

Tier Mitigation Strategies Health Metrics Level of Risk
No Tier

(Schools Open, in-person learning)

No mitigation strategies

Activities and events proceed with no limitations

None Measured Highest Level of Risk of COVID-19
Tier I

(Schools Open, in-person learning)

·  Daily health screenings

·  Social Distancing (6 feet of separation between individuals should be maintained as much as possible)

·  Required use of face coverings indoors and outdoors

·  Frequent hand hygiene

·  Enhanced sanitation procedures

·  Proper room ventilation

·  Use of barriers

 

·  Less than 2% positive cases in the county

·  Less than 2 cases per day in seven day rolling average in the school community

·  Greater than 90% student and staff attendance

·  Greater than 90% daily health screenings completed

·  3 – 4 week supply of PPE and sanitation supplies

Moderate level of Risk of COVID-19
Tier II

(Schools Open, Hybrid Learning

A/B Schedule)

Same as above except:

·  Social distancing (6 feet of separation will be maintained with approximately 17 students per class)

Same as above Lower Level of Risk of COVID - 19
Tier III

(School Closed , Virtual Learning Only)

 

Mitigation Strategies are suspended since all students are learning remotely at home.

·  More than 5% positive cases in the county

·  More than 2 cases per day in seven day rolling average in the school community

·  Less than 80% student and staff attendance in Tier II

·  Less than 2 week supply of PPE and sanitation supplies

Lowest Level of Risk of COVID-19

ACSD#1 Day 10 -- COVID-19 Update

Dear ACSD#1 Families,

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 is the 10th day of the school year, and we have been able to provide in-person and virtual learning for our students by implementing a number of mitigation strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The first ten days have not been without incident, but we continue to remain steadfast that our processes will ensure that we can continue to operate schools throughout the school year.  Here is some latest information about COVID-19 in our community.

COVID-19 Cases and Metrics

We continue to track COVID-19 cases in the ACSD#1 school community, the University of Wyoming community, and throughout Albany County.   The county continues to have less than 1% positive cases for the number of individuals tested in the two week rolling average.  This is a good metric, and Albany County has been in the bottom five counties in the state for the past few weeks.   You can find this metric on the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) website if you are interested.  In addition, we monitor the number of cases in our community, and this information is also found on the WDH website.

ACSD#1 has not seen a positive case of COVID-19 in a building, but that doesn’t mean we have not been affected. Prior to returning to school, we had one positive case with one of our employees and two other employees were ordered by the health department to quarantine for the 14 day period.  We also had a few families in our school community who were given health orders to stay home and this affected 15 students.  Last week we had six students who were out of school due to a health order quarantine. None of these individuals were in the schools.

I will continue to share this type of information, but please understand that we cannot share any other details. The Wyoming Department of Health cannot communicate who and where a COVID-19 case occurs.  This is a violation of state and federal law.  Similarly, school administrators cannot and will not communicate to staff or parents regarding cases.  The Wyoming Department of Health will notify individuals who are in imminent threat of exposure.  If you do not hear from the WDH, you do not have an imminent threat of exposure to COVID-19.

The Wyoming Department of Health recently updated their guidelines for addressing sick students or staff in the buildings and the guidance for staying home.  The guidelines have been consistent, but there have been some changes that have occurred in the last 30 days. The clearest change is the guideline that permits student and staff to return to school after 24 hours if they do not have any further symptoms.

Monitoring COVID-19 Metrics

A school board subcommittee developed metrics to determine when the school system can move out of Tier II or what metrics indicate that we need to move to Tier III.  The school board will consider these metrics during their regularly schedule board meeting on September 9, 2020.  It is still too early to decide about changes to Tier I and Tier II since we have recent activity in the university and greater community.  The item on the agenda for Wednesday evening is only to consider the metrics--not to change direction because of the metrics.

Daily Health Checks

Please continue to do the daily health pre-screenings.  This brief survey is an invaluable tool to remind our entire community to stay home when sick and the importance of protecting ourselves and each other. The CDC provides some useful information in a document that explains how best to protect yourself and others from exposure.

 

I know there remains a great deal of uncertainty, but I am confident that our systems are working to protect our students and staff.  We have processes in place to address ill students or staff at work, and we have a good communication link with state and county health officers to assist our administrators and nurses with addressing concerns about COVID-19.  We will continue to monitor the metrics related to the transmission of COVID-19, so we can determine when it is best for our secondary schools to move to five days of in-person instruction.

Stay healthy,

Jubal

 


School Reopening Plans -- Tier I (Five Days) for Elementary; Tier II (Hybrid 2-3 Days) for Secondary

Dear ACSD#1 Families:

We continue to work at a rapid pace to meet our desire to reopen schools on August 26, 2020.  This has been a busy week, and this communication highlights what we know and a few things that you can expect in the next couple of weeks.

Board Approved Reopening Start Plan for A/B Days for LMS and LHS

Our current plan is to start school on August 26, 2020 for a half day.  We will open all elementary schools, all rural schools, Rock River, UW Lab School, and Whiting High School as Tier I (five days a week of in-person instruction).  The board approved the reopening of Laramie Middle School and Laramie High School in Tier II (hybrid model) starting August 26, 2020.  The middle school and the high school will operate an alternating schedule (A/B Days), so we can reduce the number of students in the school buildings in order to meet social distancing guidelines established in the current state health order. The school district in consultation with the county health officer has established a threshold for 17 students per classroom in order to meet social distancing guidelines.

Students at Laramie Middle School and Laramie High School will be assigned to one of two cohorts of students.  The students who are assigned to cohort “A” will attend school in-person for two days a week, and they will work remotely through the Classroom Based Virtual Instruction Model for another three days a week.  The students in cohort “B” will attend in-person on the opposite days. Fridays will be reserved for specific cohorts of students who need additional assistance or for teachers to schedule labs or extended work time on projects (for example shop classes or AP classes). Students will also be able to complete weekly assignments remotely on Fridays.

As the schools work through the alternating day assignments, we understand that there may be families who have a significant hardship due to the alternating day schedule.  Please communicate your need with your child’s school.  The school district would not choose to operate an alternating A/B schedule unless the schedule provides our community with the safest path forward in this unprecedented time.

Laramie Middle and Laramie High Schools have already worked through assigning siblings to similar days to help families align schedules.  All schools will communicate with parents this week about schedules, start times, and expectations for in-person learning.

Classroom Based Virtual Instruction—Final Selection is Monday, August 24, 2020

We received over 3,200 responses to the preference survey indicating a choice of in-person learning or classroom based virtual instruction.  Parents indicated that 484 students (16%) would prefer to learn remotely with Classroom Based Virtual Instruction to start the year, and 2,394 (81%) indicated they preferred in-person learning.  85 parents (3%) expressed that they would prefer some other option for their children.

The preference survey was only an interest survey for planning and safety considerations, and there is time during this week to finalize your registration. We realize that people may change their decision given the continued uncertainty of COVID-19. To assist with your final decision, we posted additional information about Classroom Based Virtual Instruction on our website under the Frequently Asked Questions.

Parents and students who select in-person learning must adhere to the safety and health guidelines established by the county health officer and the school board.  These guidelines include completing a daily prescreening checklist, maintaining social distancing standards, wearing face coverings, and washing hands frequently.

Once the student and parent have made a final choice, we ask that parents and students commit to the choice through the first quarter. Parents and students must make a final decision by Monday, August 24, 2020 in order for the school district to ensure that all classes meet the social distancing requirements and provide the safest environment we can for students and teachers.

Power School Registration and Portal Features

The district will use the Power School Parent Portal to complete registration for this year.  It is vitally important that parents update address, phone, and email contact information in Power School prior to August 24, 2020, so that we can ensure the health and safety of all students.  The updated Power School registration link will be available starting Tuesday, August 18, 2020. There are some new features, so please access the Parent Portal and update your child’s information.  Please contact your child’s school if you have difficulty accessing the Power School Parent Portal.

The school district will use the Power School Parent Portal to record the distribution of Chromebooks for every student which also includes an acknowledgement of the Chromebook usage agreement. The portal will also be used for the required daily prescreening health checks, and parents will verify in Power School that their child will adhere to in-person learning health guidelines if they are attending school in-person.  The daily health checks will ask you if your child is showing symptoms related to COVID-19 or if your child has been potentially exposed to COVID-19. In either case, we ask that you keep your child home. These daily prescreening health checks will be a tangible reminder to put your child’s health and safety above all other considerations.

Transportation

The information collected on the preference survey also assisted the transportation department with plans to safely transport students to school.  The health guidelines for bus transportation continue to change, but the school district is presently working from the directive that social distancing and face coverings will be implemented on district buses, so the capacity of typical bus routes has decreased dramatically.  If you can transport your child to school that will be helpful as we adjust final plans this week, but please communicate with the transportation department if your child needs to be transported to school and you live in an area that meets state transportation eligibility guidelines.

Health and Safety Primary Importance

We know that there is still a great deal of uncertainty around COVID-19, but we believe that we are reopening in the safest manner we can to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.  The summer school program operated successfully by adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings, and implementing hand washing procedures. We believe that the guidance from the county health officer provides us the means to not only reopen schools successfully, but also mitigate the spread of COVID-19, so that schools can remain open for the entire school year.

The school board will review the status of Tier 1 (in-person at the elementary level) and Tier II (hybrid learning at the secondary level) frequently during the initial 14 days of the school year.  Events change rapidly, so the school district is poised to adapt to an online remote learning model if necessary.  If the mitigation strategies (social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, ventilation, and sanitation) are successful, and the state health orders relax to permit more students in a classroom and the school building, then the school board can make decisions to move secondary students to Tier I (full five day in-person learning).

Summary

The health and safety of our students and staff is the primary importance for reopening schools.  Please make a final decision regarding your choice of instructional model for the start of the year.  We need to know by Monday, August 24, 2020 whether your child is attending in-person or choosing Classroom Based Virtual Learning.

Secondly, we need you to access and update information in the Power School Parent Portal, so we can distribute a Chromebook to your child, and attain the required assurances from you regarding Chromebooks and In-Person Learning. The Power School Registration form will be available on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

Finally, please let us know if we can provide clarification or assistance.  You can contact your child’s school or you can reach the school district by emailing us at info@acsd1.org.

Sincerely,

Jubal C. Yennie

 


Reopening Plan Survey Results and Strategies for Reopening Schools

Dear ACSD#1 Families,

We will be working feverishly over the next couple of weeks to prepare schools for reopening on August 26, 2020.  There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and it has not escaped our attention that there are a number of school districts in the country who are starting the year totally online.  Conversely, many Wyoming school districts are starting back to school 100% in-person.  We will continue to evaluate the rate of transmission (spread) of COVID-19 in our community, and make the best decision for the health and safety of our community.

Tier 1 – students attend in-person; virtual instruction choice available

The current health order and directives from the Wyoming Department of Education state that we are in Tier I of the reopening plans for school start in the fall.  Tier I is the phase where most if not all students attend schools in-person with minimal adapted learning on a limited as needed basis (virtual instruction). ACSD#1 is currently approved for Tier I where all students in grades K-12 are attending school every day.  In order to do in-person learning, ACSD#1 will ensure health and safety for students and staff by implementing four strategies:

Social distancing – students will be assigned to classes that have no more than 17 students and movement in the buildings will be restricted in order to maintain 6 foot social distance wherever possible.  Start of the day, lunch time, and end of day dismissal require building administrators to manage gatherings to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Face Coverings – To protect the health and safety of students and staff who attend in-person learning, ACSD#1 will require face coverings in all areas of district school buildings and facilities.  There are specific exceptions for not wearing a face covering due to health concerns, and medical approval is required for students or staff who are unable to wear a face mask.  Alternative solutions can be used if permissible. Here is some information from the CDC about how to properly wear a face covering. The health exceptions for not wearing a face covering are found in the reopening plan and are also described in the current health order.

Ventilation—all school instructional areas will be monitored for air quality and mitigation strategies will be implemented to ensure air quality is maintained.

Hygiene and sanitation—washing hands is one of the most effective ways to avoid exposure to COVID-19, and the district will provide instruction for proper hand hygiene and require frequent hand washing for staff and students.  The district will implement enhanced sanitation strategies to disinfect high touch surfaces and areas.

Adaptability

With the continued uncertainty, ACSD#1 is currently considering a modified reopening approach where elementary students will attend five days a week and secondary (middle and high school) students will attend school on an alternating day schedule. In order to put fewer students in the building and reduce the class size, students will be assigned to one of two cohorts.  Cohort A will attend school in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays, and will complete remote, virtual instruction lessons on Tuesday and Thursday.  Cohort B will attend in-person on Tuesday and Thursday, and they will do virtual instruction on Monday and Wednesday.  Friday morning will be reserved for students who need additional instruction or more time to complete weekly assignments.

The A/B alternating schedule will be implemented in the Tier II phase (combination of in-person and virtual instruction).  The school board can approve a movement to Tier II if the health and safety of students, staff, and the community dictates the increased social distancing is required. In order words, fewer students mean fewer interactions and less spread of COVID-19.

ACSD#1 will provide the safety measures to ensure that students or staff do not come to school if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but this disease is contagious and can be transmitted when individuals are not displaying symptoms.  State or country health officers can close classrooms or buildings in the event that a positive case is identified in a district facility. At that point, students will be sent home and will work online until the classroom or building is cleared by health officials.  Parents must plan for and be adaptable for students to be home at a moment’s notice. School officials will endeavor to provide greater notice if possible, but a positive case of COVID-19 will immediately interrupt in-person learning.

Students and staff who elect to return to school in-person provide the greatest protection for all individuals in a school building.  All students and staff who are attending in-person will complete a daily health screening, and the first level of safety assurance is for individuals to stay home if they display any of the COVID-19 symptoms.

School Start, August 26, 2020

School will start for all students on August 26, 2020.  The first three days will be half days for all students, and the first full day of school will be August 31, 2020.  The current directive is for all students to be in school (Tier 1).  District officials are currently evaluating the option for Tier II for secondary students, and will communicate a decision for secondary Tier II within the next 7 – 10 days.

Survey Results

The survey for parent preference for in-person learning or virtual based classroom instruction is currently open.  We have 1539 responses, and of those, 1,269 prefer in-person learning and 234 prefer Classroom Based Virtual Instruction (CBVI). If you have not completed the survey, please click HERE to let us know your preference.  The results from the survey will help inform the overall strategy for reopening schools.  For example, if a significant number of students select CBVI and attend school remotely, we can achieve social distance requirements with fewer students in the schools without going to an A/B schedule.

Revisions to Current Reopening Plan

The elementary principals met this past week and revised a few items including creating a more flexible start time for student arrival as well as new guidance on bringing lunch boxes and the use of backpacks.  Building level principals are now back at work and will communicate building level expectations during the next week.  In addition, you will be contacted by your child’s school to verify your preference for instructional model as we finalize plans for reopening school on August 26, 2020.

Summary

The uncertainty of COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, and ACSD#1 is striving to operate in-person learning as safely as possible during this time.  The school district will continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the instruction of state and local health officials.  As a community, we can act responsibly to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and ensure that schools can remain open throughout this year.  The school district requires your assistance to ensure that the health and safety of our community is maintained, so that we can provide a quality educational experience for your children.

Sincerely,

Jubal C. Yennie, Ed.D.


ACSD#1 Reopening Plan -- Some FAQs

The school board approved the Reopening Plan on Thursday, July 30, 2020, and with the current uncertainty of COVID-19, the plan must be adaptable to new circumstances. We will update the FAQ on our website as plans change, but most of the detail of the current plan is contained in the Reopening Plan document. Here are a few of the important frequently asked questions the school district has received.

1. When is the first day of school?

The first day of school for students is August 26, 2020. The first three days of school (August 26, 27, & 28) will be half days, so the schools can reteach safety procedures and distribute Chromebooks. The first full day of school will be Monday, August 31, 2020.

2. Face coverings--are they required? Are there specific face masks that are acceptable? Will children be expected to wear face masks all day? Will my child be given a face mask?

The school board made a decision to require face coverings when school reopens, because of the continued uncertainly of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of students, teachers and staff. Face coverings as defined by the latest Wyoming Health Order means “a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face.” All students and staff will wear face coverings throughout the day, but teachers may permit “mask breaks” in classrooms or during outside activities when a 6 foot social distance can be maintained. All students will be issued a cloth face covering on the first day of school, and the school district will provide instructions on how to properly wear a face covering.

3. Are there any exceptions or waivers for students who are unable to wear a face covering?

Yes, the current Wyoming Health Order permits exceptions for wearing face coverings which includes “individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering, including an individual with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could cause harm or dangerously obstruct breathing.” Please see the current health orders for additional information.

4. How will daily pre-screening health checks be done for in-person learning?

Parents and staff will complete a daily health check survey for their children, which reminds our community to daily consider COVID-19 related symptoms and stay home if symptoms are present.

5. How will social distance be maintained in the classrooms?

Class sizes will be determined by physical size of the classroom and social distance will be maintained by ensuring that no more than 17 students are in a class. The school district will reassign teaching assignments and establish class configuration to ensure social distancing requirements are maintained.

6. Is there an option to not do in-person learning and do virtual learning from home?

Yes, ACSD#1 created an online remote learning model for students who do not feel comfortable attending in person learning. The Reopening Plan describes and defines Classroom Based Virtual Instruction for students who are unable to attend in person. Parents are asked to complete a survey if they will have their students do Classroom Based Virtual Instruction starting in the fall.

7. Is classroom based virtual instruction different than the virtual learning students did in April and May?

Yes, most definitely. Classroom Based Virtual Instruction will be a different experience for students than virtual learning last spring, because the students will have a dedicated virtual teacher who will provide daily lessons that must be completed. There will be an attendance requirement for logging on to Canvas where lessons, videos, and virtual content will be available. In addition, all courses will reflect the full depth and breadth of the grade level or secondary course content, and all courses will incorporate interactive and collaborative components.

8. Will all students have access to a computer and the Internet?

Yes, consistent with the 2019-20 school year, all students will be assigned a Chromebook for their use during the 2020-21 school year. Any student choosing to work remotely with Classroom Based Virtual Instruction who does not have access to internet will be given a HOTSPOT in order to access the internet and complete their online learning requirements.

9. Will students be able to participate in high school and middle school athletics and activities?

The high school and middle school will follow the guidance provided by the WHSAA. All activity programs will operate to maximize social distancing, and coaches and staff will use face coverings.

Performing arts (band, orchestra, music) will follow program guidance from specific national organizations. For all activity and athletic programs, enhanced sanitation and cleaning measures will be employed for equipment and surfaces.


Mental Wellness Parent Summer Support Resources

ACSD#1 shares the following resource for parents as families enter this summer during this uncertain time.


Virtual Learning Parent Survey Results May 2020

Today's blog includes a link to the parent survey that was recently completed. ACSD#1 will routinely consult parents and stakeholders about plans for reopening schools as the coronavirus crisis unfolds during the summer.

ACSD#1 Parent Survey Results May 2020


Building Access and Collecting Information

In last week’s message, I shared that ACSD#1 will be using a three-phased, deliberate approach to reopen schools in the fall. We are planning for a number of precautions, and more than likely we will have to address the very important issues of sanitation, screening, and spacing to ensure the safety of students and staff when we reopen schools in the fall.  There is still a great deal of uncertainty throughout the nation, but easing restrictions and lessons learned from other nations and school districts across the country will inform policies and procedures to guide reopening plans.

During the next two weeks, we will allow building access for teachers and students, so students can retrieve personal items and return items to the school.  Building principals will be communicating with families this week to share instructions on how to safely enter a building and the times allotted for individual students.

Surveys: Gaining Information to Serve our Community

We asked parents to complete a survey starting on May 1, 2020, and we have already learned some important lessons from the more than 1,300 responses we received from parents about the Virtual Learning Plan. The lessons learned can inform plans if it is necessary to implement a remote learning model sometime in the future.

All employees will receive an end of the year employee engagement survey starting today, and this will help us plan for summer school and reopening schools in the fall.  We have been checking in with employees every few weeks, and this will be the last survey this year. Thank you for your past participation in surveys, and please take the time to share your perspective about how we can improve our response to COVID-19 and how we can continue to take care of our employees.

We will also survey students in grades 6 -12 later this week, so we can learn how the last two months have been for our students.  We will distribute the student surveys through their parent’s email to gain permission and ensure student confidentiality.  Our students’ voices are important to the education we provide in ACSD#1, so please anticipate receiving the student survey by the end of the week.


ACSD#1 Reopening Plans – Deliberate Phased Approach

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day and could find some semblance of celebration during this time.  During this stressful time, I find that I need to remind myself to breathe, to find peace by expressing gratitude, and to focus on serving others. We have a lot of work to do in the next few months to serve our employees, students and families, but we are certainly up for the challenge.

There continues to be a high degree of uncertainty related to corona virus events, but the school district is working on short and long range responses to the changing landscape of coronavirus in our community.  This blog provides an overview of the phased approach we will be using during the next few months to reopen schools.

Shortly after launching the Virtual Learning Plan, I set up six task force groups to address issues to reopen schools safely.  The task force groups include Health and Safety, Mental Health Wellness, Learning Recovery, Digital Virtual Learning, Business and Finance, and Personnel.  The task forces groups are working to coordinate efforts to address the following major objectives:

* Certify reopening readiness for employees, students, and families (this includes establishing procedures for social distancing, providing health screening protocols, and maintaining sanitation and hygiene)

* Design a robust learning model to serve students in the ongoing uncertain environment that no longer anticipates that school will be back as usual in the fall.

* Establish ongoing support for students and employees during this time of crises.

* Prioritize CARES Act and Relief Funds allocations (federal emergency relief funds to address the impact that Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019)

A command team will coordinate the efforts of the task force groups by continuing to establish Response Teams that focus on critical COVID-19 issues, conduct scenario planning for ongoing contingencies, and establish communication protocols.

Through the coordinated efforts of these cross functional response teams, the school district has developed the following deliberate phased approach for the next few months.

Phase One: Retrieve and Return – Next Three Weeks

School buildings have been closed and employees have been working remotely.  We trained custodial and maintenance personnel to provide additional sanitation procedures in our school buildings. We will start to open buildings this week in anticipation of bringing small groups (5–9 people at a time) back in the buildings next week to retrieve personal items left prior to spring break and to start to return devices that were distributed during the past six weeks. School principals will be given specific instructions this week to share with teachers and parents, and starting on May 18th, we will permit limited entry for brief periods of time.  Precautionary, social distancing and hygiene procedures will be strictly followed.

In addition to communicating limited access plans for the next three weeks, we are also considering graduation ceremonies and the use of facilities:

  • Graduation Ceremonies: the school board will make a final decision this week regarding graduation ceremonies.  Seniors and their parents have been surveyed to clarify preferences, and the school board will weigh the various options to make a decision that will be in the best interest of our community
  • Use of Facilities: In addition to providing limited access to the buildings, we are also considering how best to permit the use of athletic facilities and how and when sports teams may begin to practice. We will have more details in the near future.

Phase Two: Summer Preparations and Limited In-Person, Summer School —June/July 2020

Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year (through June 30, 2020), but the task force groups are developing plans to provide summer school for some students in July, if at all possible.  Final decisions are dependent upon social distancing guidelines and the ability for us to mitigate coronavirus spread, ensure the cleanliness of buildings, and provide for the safety of students and staff.  If summer school plans can be implemented, students and parents will be notified in mid-June of the possibility to begin a summer school program starting in early July.

Phase Three:  Reopening School in August

The expectations for schools to reopen in August with the coronavirus behind us is no longer something that everyone takes for granted.  We have read reports of waves of coronavirus infection that will be ongoing for the next 12 – 18 months or until a vaccine is produced to protect our community from the disease.   The task force on learning recovery is also working on plans for how education will be delivered next fall if we have to continue some aspects of the virtual learning plan.  We will communicate with parents, students, and teachers throughout the next few months as plans are being developed.

PARENT RESOURCES

Last Friday I included a tribute to parents in the Superintendent’s blog.  You can find the link HERE, and we have also created a page on our website for information about COMMUNITY RESOURCES.   Links on the page provide information about counseling, housing, utilities, and other social services.  The school district will also continue to provide meals for families for the foreseeable future.  You can find additional information HERE.

We added a Homework Hotline feature to the Virtual Learning Plan to support students for the next few weeks.  Paraprofessionals are providing support from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and you can find the link to the Homework Hotline on the virtual learning pages or click HERE. The first time you access the Hotline, you will have to enter the password, “parent” and press enter.