Letter to our Parents and Community,
I am sending this message out to let our parents and community know that we are doing everything we can to keep our schools open in this COVID environment because we know that our students need in person learning. We also are very aware of the wide spread cases across the state and the number of cases in Lee County. Last week on Friday we had 36 positive cases of COVID in staff and students and 120 in quarantine (not including our 5th grade) for a total of 156. As of tomorrow, we are down to 32 positive cases and 29 in quarantine for a total of 61. While this is a significant improvement, we still have at least 9 staff at our elementary school who are either positive or in quarantine and we will not be able to bring 5th grade back this week. This is very difficult for us and we know it is a struggle for our parents, but we don’t have substitutes and our 5th grade staff is still struggling to recover from COVID. They are doing their best to keep the learning going through Google Meets and their virtual classrooms.
Last school year, if cases started spreading, we would have been able to switch to an all virtual learning environment until cases started to settle down to contain the spread. In fact, there were a few times last year that we didn’t have a high case count in Lee County but we were forced to shut down due to a state wide spread. This year, however, we do not have that option for more than 10 days in the entire school year. The current law that we are working with is schools may do Non Traditional Instruction (virtual learning or packets) for 10 days. Outside of this time, we must make up all days missed at the end of the year and on our spring break week. Having the flexibility to go to virtual learning district wide would take legislative action and we are trying to communicate the need to our legislators. The expectation for public schools is to have in-person learning, which is what we very much want to do. We wanted to have in person learning last year as well, but there were times when switching to virtual learning was a better option for a time period.
We are teaming up with Wild Health to provide testing for our students and staff who give permission to be tested. We hope that they will be able to come by the end of this week for the first round of screenings to those who have given permission. We believe this will help us find the positives more quickly and help us reduce the spread of the virus. If you would like your child to be able to be tested, a permission form was sent home last week and a copy is on the Superintendent message page of our district website. You can give permission for the weekly screenings or just when your child is symptomatic or comes in contact with a positive case of COVID and has to quarantine. This service is completely free.
We need everyone’s help to make this school year work. If your child is 12 or older please consider getting them vaccinated. Vaccinated people do not have to quarantine when they come in contact with a positive case of COVID but are required to wear masks for 14 days which we do in school regardless. If parents or family members are not vaccinated, please consider taking the vaccinations. From our experience, our staff who were vaccinated and do test positive are not experiencing as harsh of a case of COVID and many are not testing positive at all. And, if you would like for us to remain in person most of the time but have the opportunity to go to a virtual environment when cases spike in our community, please contact Representative Wesley and Senator Stivers and ask for help through legislation to support us being able to do what we need to in order to keep everyone safe.
In this COVID world there is no good solution, but we will do our best to keep our students and staff safe while we work under the parameters we are given to provide our students with a quality education.