Hello OSD Families!
I would like to connect for a short update as our first month together for learning is now “in the books.”
Let me begin with a few shout-outs:
To our parents and families. Your patience and understanding – your cooperation – have allowed us to refine our plans, and that has contributed to our ability to stay in person for learning. Another big part of staying in person has been your communication and openness. Moms and dads, we are relying on you to keep your child home when they are presenting symptoms. We are relying on you to let us know about close contacts and covid test results which could impact our school. So thank you to those who have been so diligent in this area.
In several cases, early and cautious parent communication and parent decisions to keep their child home, with what may normally be considered “minor symptoms,” has helped us avoid a complete grade or even building closure. We recognize that for many families this creates child care challenges, work challenges and a variety of other considerations. MANY schools near us have had to close complete grades or buildings, and we certainly want to avoid that. Thank you!
To date we are not aware of any “in school” transmission. All of our quarantine situations are linked to outside events. There are no perfect “return to school” plans yet we believe the steps we have taken are contributing to our ability to be in person for learning, and that continues to be our goal. So thank you parents and please continue to let us know when you have a potential contact situation so we can stay in front of this as best we can as a community.
I would also like to send a shout out to our students. They have been great in school. They are working to follow the guidelines we have in place, and what is impressing me is when some students may need a reminder, they are responding respectfully and kindly. During a season when kindness and respect can seem to be in short supply, our students are demonstrating it regularly. Thanks students!
I would also like to give a shout out to our staff. I have shared before that the expectations for their positions – just like for many of you at your jobs – have changed. Some of the most enjoyable parts or our work are “on hold” and other things which are challenging are now part of what we need to do. In any case, our staff has been uncommon in their approach as well. Just like our students, the adults in our school miss the social connection opportunities – eating lunch together in a faculty room, going out with a group of teachers for lunch on an inservice day, or just hanging out with colleagues to talk about our families. There is less of that for everyone and when you have a team which enjoys being with one another that leaves a void. Anyway, our staff isn’t a group which complains about things they can’t control. They dig in, get to work, look for solutions; they demonstrate flexibility and they show joy in what they do – even the tough stuff.
The list of shout outs can go far beyond those listed here, but we will save some of those for the end of October when we check in again.
I would like families to know that over the past 2-3 weeks we have averaged about 20 quarantines. We believe the biggest hurdle for us to remain in session on site may very well be staff availability. There are very few substitute teachers currently available in Sheboygan County and quarantines affecting staff could cause us to close. I share this for two reasons, first as encouragement to keep following recommendations to limit the spread of COVID and second in case anyone out there may have interest in becoming a substitute teacher. We have very robust technology in most of our classrooms which allows teachers who are quarantined, yet feeling ok, to teach from home. Our substitutes, therefore don’t need to deliver content. Substitute teachers in these settings serve primarily to supervise the students in the classroom and facilitate the communication between the virtual teacher and the students in the room. We have had several classes that have needed to use this approach over the past two weeks and it has worked quite well. The challenge will be having enough substitute teachers to keep that model going if a large number of staff are forced into quarantine.
So, we are thankful for a month of learning together. We are making significant progress in our learning goals – progress that can’t be matched virtually. We want to stay in our current model. I look forward to checking in again in several weeks and remain hopeful that we will be in the same learning model.
Kevin Bruggink, Superintendent