OSD Update

Hello Oostburg Families,

It is our hope that this message finds you and your family doing well during a time of significant uncertainty. We would like to take a few minutes to provide an update around our current status in relation to COVID-19 and what that status means going forward.

We are grateful that we have been able to continue in-person learning through almost 9 weeks of school. We currently have 17 individuals quarantined along with another group of students who are not officially quarantined but are being kept home by family members or school request out of an abundance of caution. The internal data we are monitoring is watching for any evidence of in school transmission of the virus from student to student or staff member. To date, we have no evidence of in school transmission occurring and all positive cases are related to exposure outside of school.

We recently joined area school leaders from both public and private schools in asking for your help in following all guidelines and using care and caution around wearing facial coverings, washing hands and being conscious of large gatherings. This notice can be read on our social media channels and on the Cty Health Dept website. We ask all community members to follow health department guidelines to assist in our goal of remaining in person for learning. Without the cooperation of our community it is unlikely we will be able to avoid moving to virtual instruction at least at some levels. With your help we believe we can remain fully open with an accompanying virtual option for those who are not comfortable with in person learning.

Please know that our County Health Department remains extremely concerned about hospitalization rates and capacity in our health care system. This is a real concern and one we must take seriously. Our hospitals were over 80% of capacity this week and their staff are heavily burdened in trying to provide solid care for patients. County Health has shared that they may recommend virtual instruction only for all county schools based on this area of concern. At this point we would follow our local, internal data and do not plan to move to virtual instruction unless we see confirmed internal spread. Put directly… we will continue to prioritize in person instruction.

I do want to emphasize that we are not taking this virus casually. I have personally experienced the effects, and my experience is not one I would wish on anyone. It is the most difficult sickness I have experienced and not something to dismiss. Our reason for priorizing in person learning is due to the very real negatives associated with full virtual instruction. We see first hand the impact on student mental health and learning when students are not able to learn in person. Health concerns and learning concerns exist on all sides of this situation – not only from risk of the virus – and we believe we have a responsibility to weigh all of these considerations in our approach.

We also believe that our schools are some of the most disciplined places with regard to measures which prevent the virus from spreading. Washing hands, facial coverings and efforts to control social distancing are all critical to our efforts at school. These things matter and they are keeping us in person for learning. We will remain vigilant in expecting students to follow these guidelines so we can stay together. We will not compromise in these expectations.

In closing, we thank you for your continued support. Please put aside the things which have divided us as we come together in an effort to remain in person for instruction. We will continue to communicate positive case information to our families and ask that you please keep your child home if you have any indication that they may be exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing any related symptoms.

We have had a first quarter which has been better than most may have anticipated. It hasn’t been easy, yet we feel fortunate to have our students here with us and hope to continue in our current instructional model. We need your help to make that a reality.

Have a great weekend!

Kevin