Friday, August 27, 2021
Dear Edmond Family,
We have been in school for 12 days, yet for some of us, it seems like weeks. School was not supposed to be this way this year. No one wanted this. We have classrooms with five or six students present while the rest are at home receiving lessons from the teacher who is trying to juggle both groups. Teachers who are in quarantine are making videos for their classes every day. At some sites, cafeteria and custodial crews are short two or three members but pressing on to get the job done. Principals, teachers too, are answering the meanest emails and phone calls imaginable. This is hard…harder than we ever anticipated!
To keep you informed on the decisions from this office, Quarantines were implemented last week at the direction of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. We talk to them and our attorney daily to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect kids within the boundaries of the law. My goal is to do everything we can to keep from shutting down a school. I want students in school 5 days a week. It seems odd to say that, and then follow procedures that result in them going home after exposure to the virus. However, quarantines are necessary to minimize the spread of the virus in our schools while keeping the majority of students in class.
Having said that, moving from “recommending” quarantines to “requiring” quarantines has resulted in some large groups being out of school. I hope that those are a thing of the past. Mitigation factors such as going back to seating charts in secondary schools and grouping students in families/pods in the elementary schools should narrow the close contact tracing resulting in fewer students being out of the building.
Moving forward, we are planning to use federal dollars to hire additional contact tracers to assist our site Covid Captains who are working into the night and often on weekends in the best interest of serving our families. With transmission rates high across our state, we know that this virus will be with us for many months and we have to provide them the help they desperately need.
Masking continues to be an important mitigation measure to stop the spread of the virus in our schools. I ask that you consider wearing a mask at school to protect those in our school population who are most vulnerable and to safeguard students who are not old enough for the vaccine.
The positivity rate in our schools requires us to take quick action when necessary to make changes to our Covid protocols. Late today, following a 4:00 p.m. special meeting, the Board gave me the temporary authority to make any/all necessary adjustments if needed to any aspect of Covid for the 21-22 school year to protect the best interests of students and staff. While nothing is changing tonight, we wanted to take this step now so that if a Covid-related procedure needs to change, it can be accomplished quickly. Please be aware that I will not make any decision without careful consideration, discussion with the administrative team, and input from our local health authorities. It is about balance.
Thank you for all you do and your commitment to students. I am in awe of the work you do. I hope you have a great weekend,