March 2, 2021

Dear EPS Staff and Parents,

In yesterday’s email, I promised you that we would send additional communication today to help answer your questions about our return later this month to four day a week instruction.

While not exhaustive, we hope the information provided below will answer the most top-of-mind questions about the transition back to the classroom which was approved by the board at last night’s meeting.

Return to Class

Why would the district consider changing the A/B schedule now?

Within the last week or so, three significant concerns have been addressed that support us transitioning back into in-person learning for our students. The CDC released updated, detailed guidelines and protocols on how and when to safely return to in-person learning for our students, we began vaccinating thousands of staff members, and local Covid-19 transmission rates have shown a steady decline.

Why are we returning to four days of in-person learning instead of five days?

Moving to 4 days of in-person from 2 days of in-person is a natural progression for students to reacclimate and adjust to full days of in-person learning. The workload for teachers has not decreased by moving to 4 days of in-person.  In many ways, it has increased.  Teachers still need Wednesdays to build lessons for quarantined students and virtual students. There are also many logistical and behind-the-scenes reasons that revolve around child nutrition, returning furniture to all schools, before and aftercare, and remediation that make 4 days a week ideal compared to 5 days a week. This is a temporary plan only for the remainder of this school year.  

Why Are Wednesdays a Virtual Day and not Fridays?

Moving students from in-person 2 days a week to in-person 4 days a week is a significant change in routine.  The break on Wednesdays will give students a day to work at home without a mask in between the 2 in-person days.  Friday might possibly feel like a long weekend for students or allow students to put off their Friday work until Sunday night. Finally, every family in the district has childcare and arrangements made for Wednesday.  If we moved the remote day to Fridays, families with B students would have to make new arrangements.

What will my child do on Wednesdays?

Wednesdays will be remote learning days.  Students will have instruction and lessons on Canvas.  Learning should take place on Wednesdays, just as it does on the other days of the week.

Why is elementary returning on March 11 and secondary on March 22?

There are three significant reasons for this.  One, elementary classrooms need time to build community and reestablish procedures with both groups present.  Also, by doing two days the week before spring break, elementary students are not immediately thrown into a 4 day week with their new friends.  Finally, after teachers have the students together for 2 days, they will have the break to make any adjustments that are needed before students return again.

Plus, by staggering the return of the two groups of students, district staff will be able to concentrate on getting the elementary classrooms in order and carefully re-furnished before turning their attention to the hundreds of secondary classrooms. Then, during spring break, when buildings are empty, EPS staff can move desks and equipment back into the secondary classrooms, which will significantly limit disruptions to students and staff.

Can my child switch from Virtual Edmond back to in-person learning

When families committed to VE, it was clearly stated that it would be a semester commitment.  Students may enroll for in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.

What if I don’t feel it is safe for my child to return to class?

The district can provide an option for students who absolutely cannot attend school 4 days a week due to extreme circumstances.  This could be because of a compromised immune system or because of other medical conditions.  This option is not available because of student’s work schedules or convenience. If you fall into this category, contact your school principal individually by March 5th.

Will you be able to socially distance in the classroom?

Elementary:  While we will not be able to spread students out the 6 feet we have been doing in an A/B learning model, our schools have worked to establish procedures in class and throughout the building to keep small groups of students (“pods”) together in an effort to limit the number of students each person contacts within a day.

Secondary: As recommended in the February 26, 2021, CDC document (“Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation”), secondary schools will provide physical distancing for students and staff to the greatest extent possible.  From class to class, this will vary, depending on the square footage of the classroom space. Some classes will be temporarily moved to larger spaces as needed. For instance, a large vocal music class could move to the auditorium.  In many situations, seating arrangements in classrooms can be manipulated to create pods of students, similar to the plan for elementary students. By layering mitigation practices, specifically by maintaining strict adherence to face masks covering the nose and mouth, students and staff can play an important role in protecting themselves and others from the spread of Covid.

Will students still have to quarantine?

Quarantining procedures will still be in place and followed.  While quarantine numbers may increase due to having more students in a classroom, we hope that with creating the student pods, we will not have to quarantine entire classes at a time.

Will my student still bring home their device every night?

Yes, students will bring home their devices every night, in the event they would need to quarantine due to an unforeseen exposure during the school day.

Will everything look like it did last year before the pandemic started?

No, at this time we are returning to class, but not returning to school procedures pre-pandemic.  In order to continue implementing multiple levels of mitigation strategies, schools will still not hold large group assemblies and will limit guests in the building for the remainder of this school year.  Our plan is that we will be able to return to more normal school procedures for the 2021-22 school year.

What are you going to do if my child is behind academically?

Students K-8 participate in a reading and math screener three times a year to identify learning gaps.  If your child is identified as behind academically, you will be notified by your child’s teacher. Summer school opportunities will be made available for students demonstrating the need for summer recovery. Additionally, summer learning activities will be sent home to elementary students on a weekly basis all summer long with the activities based on key fundamental skills.

Will students and staff still be required to wear a mask while on campus?

Yes.  Wearing masks is another layer of mitigation against the spread of COVID-19.  We will continue to enforce our district-wide mask-wearing policy, which includes covering one’s mouth and nose.

Remember, if you have a specific question that was not addressed above, or that cannot be answered by school site personnel, please reach out to us at Covid19@edmondschools.net.

Sincerely,

Brett Towne Signature brett town