Superintendent, Dean Hess, joins the podcast again this week to provide an update and insight into the thought process behind the district’s return to in-person learning on November 9th. Please click the play button below to hear the podcast.
November 3, 2020
This past week a team consisting of staff, nurses, supervisors, county health department, administration, board members, and our medical liaison collaborated to review county/district COVID-19 data and to brainstorm future educational programming options. We reflected on what caused us to move to virtual programming, which was primarily due to our inability to sustain daily operations as a result of high quarantine numbers. We reviewed the data from the district dashboard as well as CDC core and secondary indicator data for Oconto County. We also discussed our mitigation strategies and possible options related to returning to a more face to face environment versus maintaining the mostly virtual environment that we’re currently in. This meeting was followed by multiple followup meetings with other smaller groups which culminated in the decision to return to a face to face model of programming starting on November 9, 2020.
On November 9, all students will return to face to face programming similar to how we started the school year. All students K-12 will attend school four days per week face to face (M,T,Th,F) following their normal start and end times for their school’s schedule. On Wednesdays, student in grades 2-12 will be involved in modified virtual programming from 8:00 to 1:45.
Given that we anticipate the potential of increased spread due to gatherings during the holidays and activities that often accompany the Wisconsin deer season, we have modified the school calendar. Days that were previously scheduled for face to face learning will now be changed to virtual instruction (see the color coded calendar below). This will enable us to implement two virtual windows between now and January that align with the holiday breaks. In doing so we create a buffer with each holiday break to allow any spread to subside before returning to school face to face. This action better supports our ability to sustain face to face educational programming while keeping in mind the activities that surround the holidays which will most likely result in increased spread in our area. It is important to note that we will continue to follow CDC guidelines in our collaboration with the Oconto County Health Department to conduct close contract tracing. We anticipate that the effect of these actions will be the identification of students and staff that will need to quarantine.
It is important to note that after reviewing our internal and local data we believe that this course of action provides us the best opportunity to sustain a format of face to face instruction that will better enable staff to assist students with their learning. At the same time this plan includes strategies to reduce the number of close contacts that result in students and staff needing to be quarantined. Through the next two months we will follow the new calendar that is presented here. As we approach January 4, 2021 we will review the data from November and December to determine if we need to implement a buffer of virtual learning following the holiday break. Unless data proves otherwise, we will start back with face to face learning on January 4, 2021. Please note that if during the next two months we experience a situation where we are unable to maintain face to face instruction we will communicate with families and make a programming adjustment back into a virtual environment.
As we look to the future, it is critical that we all work together to do what we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Through our actions to wear face coverings, socially distance, and avoid activities where the possibility of spread is increased, we can positively impact our ability as a school district to remain in a face to face learning environment.
Dean R. Hess
To view the original publication, CLICK HERE.
October 6, 2020
With the district going to a fully virtual schedule, we are working on setting up delivery of meals with our Transportation Department.
Every family should have gotten a SURVEY to fill out if you are interested in getting meals delivered to your child’s bus stop. If you did not receive this letter or have had trouble signing up, please contact Jenni Faccio to be manually added to the list. Once we get a list of the students that are interested in receiving these meals, we will begin working with the Transportation Department to plan out our deliveries.
We will be doing two deliveries a week (Tuesday and Fridays morning) which will consist of “Take & Heat” Meals. The meals will be dropped off at your normal morning pickup location at the normal pickup time. It will be your responsibility to have someone there to receive the meals. If you are unavailable for three deliveries, we may discontinue this service for you and we could potentially offer you a pick up option. If your children don’t typically ride the bus, please contact the bus garage at 920-848-4460 to get that information. Please understand that we may run a little late as we get the routes fine tuned. Meal deliveries will be starting on Friday, October 9.
We are going to try to stick to the regular school menu but may at times need to make adjustments. Due to the meals being “Take & Heat”, the meals will be frozen and we ask that you freeze or refrigerate as soon as you can. We have included the instructions on heating up these meals in this same email. Please view the “Take & Heat Meals” document for more instructions and information.
These meals are completely funded FREE through a Federal Grant (not with District Funds) so please take advantage of this great opportunity.
Food Service Director
920-848-4467 ext. 4041
October 5, 2020
Dear OFSD Families and Staff,
Over the past two weeks we continue to experience a rise in positive COVID-19 cases among our students and staff as well as throughout Oconto County and NorthEast Wisconsin. The results of these positive cases involve a significant number of our students and staff required to isolate due to being a positive case, and an even greater number of students and staff needing to quarantine due to being a close contact. On multiple days over the past two weeks, we have experienced more than 30 staff members unable to be at work and more than 150 students out of school. During this time, I have met and consulted with the County Health Department, our Medical Liaison to the School District, local Superintendents, members of our Board of Education, and school district personnel to evaluate the information we have and to consider the many concerns that have been shared with us by parents, staff, and community members. Due to the increased spread within our school district and in the communities that we serve, we will be modifying our educational programming. Students in grades two through twelve will transition to a fully virtual learning model beginning October 8, 2020. We will reassess the level of community spread and student positive cases during the first week of November to determine if, when, and how we’re able to resume face-to-face learning. We will maintain our current schedule Monday/Tuesday (October 5 and 6) to provide our students, staff, and families the opportunity to prepare for this change. On October 7, staff members will be involved in transition planning and will provide students with asynchronous online learning expectations via their learning platform. I anticipate that you will receive further information from your child’s principal and teachers related to their specific building schedule and any needed information related to the transition and virtual learning expectations.
If your child has an IEP or 504 plan, please be aware that there will be additional communication regarding services and support for students who have disabilities as the district is implementing a virtual model of instruction. Please look for communication from Terri Olsen, Director of Pupil Services and/or your child’s special education teacher in the next few days.
Given the specific needs of our students involved in 4K, 5K, and first grade programming, we will continue to involve them in face-to-face instruction at their home school. We will implement modifications to our schedule, processes, and programming to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19. I anticipate that your child’s Principal will provide you with more information regarding the 4K-1 schedule which has been modified to provide face-to-face learning of the most essential academic needs.
For students in 4K – 1st grade we will maintain our current schedule Monday/Tuesday (October 5 and 6) to provide our students, staff, and families the opportunity to prepare for this change. As part of this transition process, 4K-1st grade students will not report to school on October 7-9 and instead be involved in learning from home. Staff members will engage with students in a similar manner to their Wednesday sessions. Face-to-face programming will resume on October 12 for students in 4K-1st grade and the specifics of these days will be shared with you by your building Principal. It is important to note that our Transportation Department will be reaching out to families to share pick-up and drop off times that will support the modified face-to-face schedule for students in 4K-1st grade.
We are planning to continue our Kids Station programming in order to support our families during these challenging times. If you have questions related to Kids Station services, please contact Mrs. Joanne Michalski at Abrams Elementary School (920) 826-5819.
We will continue forward with Athletic events district-wide scheduled to occur this week (Oct 5-9). We will be modifying the special board meeting agenda scheduled to be held on October 7th in the PAC to include a discussion regarding whether or not to continue with district-wide athletics (Middle and High School) during the implementation of fully virtual programming (After October 9).
Please know that I am grateful for the efforts of everyone involved in the educational process over the past five weeks to enable us to operate in a face-to-face environment. This time has helped our students to successfully transition back to school and it has also enabled students and staff to build their capacity relative to interacting in a virtual environment on Wednesdays. As we move forward, I encourage our students, staff, and families to continue in your vigilance to focus on how we can do our part to protect our families as well as the communities that we live in. Please be thoughtful to wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently, and maintain social distance in all public settings. Through everyone working together we can positively impact our current reality and improve our ability to get back to school.
Additional information related to this transition:
Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Oconto Falls Public Schools
September 25, 2020
Over the past few weeks we have addressed the needs of both students and staff within our school district that have tested positive for COVID-19. In each of these situations, we worked collaboratively with the Oconto County Health Dept to address the needs of the individual that tested positive, and also identified any students or staff that were determined to be close contacts with the individual that tested positive. Once close contacts were identified, we contacted those families that were directly affected. In an effort to allow all of our families to stay informed related to new positive cases, please refer to the following LINK on our district webpage which will be updated each Wednesday. The totals in the student columns will be added in the next few days to include data from today. We will not be sending communications out to families each time we experience a positive case within our school district. Instead, we will update this site weekly which will allow families to be aware of any new cases. Please note that this data is general in nature as to protect the confidential nature of this information.
As a school district, we continue to implement measures to mitigate the spread of this virus. These actions include social distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing face coverings. You can assist us by incorporating the same strategies at home. To support you in your efforts we are including guidance in our Student Decision Tree, if your child is exhibiting any symptoms please follow the decision tree and refrain from sending them to school. Your thoughtfulness and assistance is greatly appreciated as together we can more effectively control the spread of COVID-19.
It is important to note that yesterday the Governor of Wisconsin took action to declare a public health emergency Executive Order #90 . In response to this public health emergency, the Governor has also extended the face covering requirement to November 21, 2020 Emergency Order #1. Please note that our school district implemented a face covering requirement prior to the original state order which means that if the state order sunsets in the future, the face covering requirement will still be in place for all students, staff, and visitors until the Oconto Falls Board of Education would take action to rescind this expectation.
Superintendent of Schools
September 10, 2020
COVID-19 Positive Case/Close Contact Information For Parents
Over the past couple days we have had many questions related to our response to positive cases of COVID-19 within our student population. Below is information that will help to outline the sequence of events that happens when a student or staff member is identified as being COVID positive.
The Sequence of Events:
When we receive notification regarding a positive case of COVID-19, school district staff work together with the Oconto County Health Department to quickly implement the isolation process for the person that has tested positive. We then work collaboratively to determine who if anyone was in Close Contact with the individual that tested positive. The following is a link that provides more information relative to determining a close contact. It is important to note that in our current educational environment which involves all students attending school face to face four days a week, we can anticipate that we will have students that are close contacts when we experience a positive case in the school environment.
Once any close contacts are identified, school district staff will contact the parent/guardian of the student to inform them of the situation and have them come to school to pick up their child. The parent/guardian will be informed at that time that they can expect to receive a phone call from the Oconto County Health department which will involve questions, validation of their child being a close contact, and then guidance to follow relative to being a close contact. During this contact by the Oconto County Health Department, the parent/guardian will be given information relative to the duration of their child’s quarantine. This information will also be shared with school district staff so that we can anticipate your child’s return to school.
While students are quarantined, school personnel will communicate with the parent/guardian to address how we can best address their child’s educational needs based on their specific circumstances.
Dean Hess, Superintendent of Schools
Oconto County Public Health & School District Nurse Committee
Districtwide Notification of a Positive COVID-19 Case
School Year: 2020-21
This letter is to notify you that a student or staff member within our school district has tested positive for COVID-19. The health of our students, staff, and community is our top priority. We are actively working with Oconto County Public Health to quickly identify, notify, and quarantine students and staff who may have come into close contact with the person that tested positive. We are also taking extensive disinfection measures throughout the school building(s) to control the spread of illness.
What to Expect
If your student had close contact with an active case of COVID-19 in our school district, you will receive communication via phone call and letter providing information on the next steps. Oconto County Public Health Department will be reaching out to you with further questions and guidance.
If your student is not identified as having close contact with an active case of COVID-19 in our school district, no further communication is indicated at this time. However, please continue to do your part in mitigating the spread of this virus by continued practice of social distancing, good hand hygiene and healthy practices within our community.
If through further assessment and interviewing of this case, Public Health would request any information from you, please assist them as they work to investigate and control COVID-19 in our school district.
Prevent Further Spread
Notify the school if your student tests positive for COVID-19
Notify the school if your student had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
Keep students home from school if they are sick
Encourage good habits: wash hands frequently, keep 6 feet apart from others, wear a mask or facial
covering in public, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, stay home as much as possible/avoid crowds
Symptoms of COVID-19
● Fever (temperature 100.4 F or higher)
● Trouble breathing
● Muscle/body aches
● Loss of sense of taste or smell
● Runny nose or nasal congestion
● Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Please monitor your student for symptoms and follow the guidance of Public Health, and help us keep our
students and school community healthy.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact your School Health Department: 920-848-4467 (ext-6)
8 September 2020
We are excited to announce that the USDA announced a nationwide waiver for schools to offer free meals to all students.
Effective September 14, 2020 all students age 18 and under in the Oconto Falls School District can receive Free Breakfast and Free Lunch up until December 31, 2020 OR until the available funds run out. Which means this program could end at any time prior to December 31, 2020. These meals will only be available on scheduled school days according to our 2020-2021 School year calendar. If there is money in your food service account currently, it will remain in there to be used once this opportunity ends.
This is a great opportunity for all kids to receive breakfast and lunch each day at Abrams Elementary, Oconto Falls Elementary, Washington Middle School and Oconto Falls High School. We will still be sending meals home with students that order them Tuesday for the Wednesday Virtual Learning Day and these also will be free of charge.
It is very important that you still complete the Free and Reduced Application, if you have not done so, because when this free meal opportunity ends, you will be responsible for payment based on your current status of free/reduced/paid. Our District may qualify for special funding or programming based on our Free and Reduced percentage.
Please note this opportunity does not include a la carte purchases, snack milk at the elementary levels, and/or milks purchased with meals brought from home. These items WILL be charged to your account.
PLEASE BE PATIENT AND FLEXIBLE as we will be ordering supplies, based on the data from our meals last spring.
As always, if you have any questions, we will be happy to help.
Food Service Director
920-848-4466 ext. 1