School Matters: Veterans are examples of withstanding the most extreme challenges

Perry

It is our hope these weekly updates will help keep our community informed about the school system.

Without question, these days are challenging because external events have such an impact on the school system. Specifically, the virus continues to play an important role in all we do. However, I think so many of us are growing tired of the constant discussion and focus on the virus, but it is still an ever-present factor.

We are beginning to hear promising news about a vaccination which could help mitigate the spread of the virus.

This is potentially good news and because it appears to be 95% effective. Until that point, we need to remain vigilant and keep those around us safe.

Please take a moment to review the following information and contact us if you have any questions.

First, as of November 20, we have 46 active cases within the school district, but that number is rising quickly.

We have not seen a significant outbreak of cases originating within the schools. We attempt to quickly identify potential cases and quarantine those individuals to prevent the spread of the virus. It still seems that the vast majority of these cases are originating outside of the school system.

Of these 46 active cases, 31 of them are students and 15 are staff members. We currently have approximately 173 staff/students who are quarantined. We anticipate our numbers to increase within the schools as more individuals within the community become infected.

We also anticipate that many families will gather for the holidays, and this has the potential to be one of those super-spreader events. We will continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus within the school system.

Second, the state has allowed school districts the option of pushing back the state testing window for the end-of-year testing. The state provided this option for first semester classes at the high school level, but they are now extending it to second semester and end-of-year tests.

Normally, we would have been required to finish testing in May with several weeks of instruction remaining in the school year. We have been given the option to push back state testing to the end of May and the first of June to correspond with our extended school year.

Third, we anticipate there will be an increase of cases in our community after the break. We encouraged high and middle school students to attend virtually for the week after Thanksgiving if possible and for elementary to attend virtually for the first three days after the holiday.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of active cases within the school district. Specifically, we have seen an increase at the elementary level, and we anticipate the number of cases will continue to rise at all levels.

For this reason, we are extending the virtual option at elementary school for the remainder of the week after Thanksgiving.

Parents still have the option of sending their children to school in person, if necessary, but we are asking parents to keep their elementary children at home, if possible, during the entire week of November 30 – December 4.

We will prepare paper packets for the elementary students to work on from home during that week. It is important to note this is still an optional request.

Elementary, middle, and high schools will open and close at the normal time if students need to attend school in person.

We apologize for the change in our plans, but we are forced to act upon factors beyond our control. The course of the virus is not a predicable path, and we are often required to change our plans to keep staff and students safe.

It is our hope the holiday break and the optional virtual week after the holidays will allow staff and students ample opportunity to recover. We sincerely appreciate your understanding and patience.

Fourth, we will still provide free lunch and breakfast for all virtual students if they want to participate.

We ask that parents call into school before 8:30 a.m. and let the office know your family will be participating so we can prepare the appropriate number of meals. We are also asking parents to pick up their meals at their home school if possible.

Please make sure you call early if you want a meal because it creates a number of issues for us if we do not have an accurate count.

It is important to note that we will not be preparing school meals over the Thanksgiving break. We will resume this service on November 30.

Fifth, we had hoped to use a digital platform to sell basketball tickets, but the vendor was unable to control the number of tickets issued to one family.

We will pre-sell paper tickets for our basketball games to ensure that all families of players receive an equal number of tickets. I am concerned this will be a frustrating season for many parents because they will want additional tickets. I understand the desire to see children play and to have all members of the family to attend.

However, there will be nothing to see if we are forced to cancel the season because we have a major outbreak. We are focused on having the students participate in athletics this winter. It will be an extremely challenging endeavor to complete this season, and we will be forced to take extra-ordinary precautions to accomplish this objective.

Sixth, we fully understand the holidays will be a time for family and friends to gather.

However, it will also be an excellent time to spread the virus. We ask our staff, parents, and students to take the necessary precautions to be safe during this time because we care deeply about the wellbeing of everyone connected to our school family.

It is our concern that many families will gather and unintentionally infect some of our most vulnerable populations.

These infections will eventually appear within our classrooms. We would never suggest families not gather during the holidays because that is not within our authority or responsibility.

However, we ask everyone to be conscientious when making the decision to return to school.

Please do not return back to school if you are symptomatic or someone in your immediate family is presenting symptoms.

As we stated at the beginning of this article, most of our infections are not originating within school. Help us continue to keep staff/students safe and to keep school open.

One of the most devastating things to lose during this pandemic is hope. At the current time, it is often difficult to envision a post-virus world and so many of us are simply tired. It is a constant struggle to adjust and so many new things have been placed on our plates.

It will be challenging but the next couple of months but there will be a post-virus world. Things will go back to normal.

Things may be different and we may be more conscientious about health issue, but there will be a post-virus era.

Keep the faith, keep those around us safe, and maintain basic good health practices.

Enjoy the holidays and remain safe.

We appreciate your attention to this article and remember, School Matters!