43 – COVID-19 Update – Future Virtual Option – Rural Virtual Academy

June 4, 2021

RE: Future Virtual Option

This past school year the Oconto Falls Public Schools offered a virtual education option for students as an alternative to face-to-face education during the pandemic. The option provided involved students accessing their education through the utilization of Acellus programming. During the course of the year we gathered feedback regarding this option and determined that we would not move forward with Acellus for the 2021-22 school year as a virtual alternative.

On May 10, 2021, a recommendation was made to the Board of Education that we move forward and collaborate with the Rural Virtual Academy (RVA) for situations where an option other than face-to-face education is requested. The Board approved this recommendation, and we are currently collaborating with RVA staff to ensure information is available to those who have an interest in a virtual education option.

Please know that we are moving forward with a plan to have all students back in face-to-face learning environments, with face coverings optional, when we begin the 2021-2022 school year. However, we recognize that, in exceptional circumstances, a parent may want to consider another option. This is a link to the RVA website and will enable you to access information regarding RVA and their virtual programming.

If you are considering RVA, please contact Debbie Woods (920) 848-4471 to be added to our list to receive more information as it becomes available.

Dean R. Hess
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Superintendent

 

42 – COVID-19 Update – Face Coverings Communication

May 18, 2021

On Monday, May 11, 2021, the Board of Education approved making face coverings optional starting June 4, 2021. This means that we will continue to require face coverings for the remainder of our school year (through June 3, 2021).

Please note that even though our Board has made face coverings optional in the buildings, the TSA and CDC have extended the requirement of face coverings on public transportation through September 13, 2021. Our buses are considered public transportation, therefore if your child will be riding the bus for summer school, athletics, or other activities they will be required to wear a face covering. Please see the following webpages for more information. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html)

As we receive further guidance from the CDC, we will keep you informed as to if/how it may affect our current operational practices. Please note that we appreciate your support as we continue to take actions in what we believe to be the best interest of our students, staff, families, and the communities that we serve.

Dean Hess

41 – COVID-19 Update – Operational Modification Due to Vaccine

To Parents/Guardians:

As the vaccination process continues to create greater opportunities for staff, families, and community members to receive the vaccine, we continue to modify our operational practices. It is important to note that over the past five days we have avoided requiring four staff members to quarantine due to being a close contact because in each instance the staff member was vaccinated. Below is the guidance that we’re following which relates to both adults as well as students 16 years and older:

Adults and students (16 years and older) who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations (2 doses for Pfizer / Moderna or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson) and who are two weeks beyond receiving their final dose, would not need to quarantine in the case of being a close contact provided they are not exhibiting symptoms.

We are sharing this information so that you as parents, students, and staff members are aware of the benefit of not needing to quarantine if you meet the vaccine requirement listed above and are later identified as a close contact.

If you have further questions please contact your child’s school and leave a message for the school nurse. We will have someone get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Dean R. Hess

Superintendent

Original Message: Vaccine Communication 4.27.21

40 – COVID 19 Update – January 6 – REVISED Student Quarantine Practice

January 6, 2021

As you may know, CDC revised it’s recommendation to the language below:

Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine. Options they will consider include stopping quarantine

  • After day 10 without testing
  • After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 7 or later)

After stopping quarantine, you should

  • Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
  • If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.

CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus. 

However, our District has decided to consider these recommendations and adjust our local practice. Oconto Falls Public Schools decided that we will have asymptomatic students quarantined from school for 10 days (regardless of negative results) and be allowed to return to school on day 11 pending they remain symptom free and remain socially distant from other students and staff. 

The return date for participation in athletics and co-curricular activities will not change from that initially indicated.  Students may attend practices and observe in a socially distanced manner once they have returned to in-person learning; however, they may not participate until the end of this longer quarantine period.

If you have specific questions, please contact the main office of the school which your student attends.

Dean R Hess

Superintendent of Schools

View original letter sent to families.

38 – COVID-19 Update – November 18 – Inclement Weather Update



November 18, 2020

As the winter season approaches, we are providing you with information regarding how we will respond as a school district to inclement weather. This information will include our updated plan and notification process should we need to close or delay the start of the school day.
As you are likely aware, each year we build multiple snow days into our calendar to address situations where school is delayed or closed due to inclement weather. Even though our school district has provided a majority of our students with 1:1 devices (chromebooks) that allow them to access school remotely, we continue to bring a number of our students into school for face-to-face instruction during virtual learning. The reason behind this action is that not all students have a device or access to the internet, and some students have significant educational needs that require face to face assistance during instruction. Given these realities, the Oconto Falls Public Schools will implement snow days similar to how we’ve addressed them in the past. Simply said, a snow day will still be a snow day and students and staff will not be required to attend school. This will avoid situations of a number of students and staff on hazardous roads due to implementing virtual learning as a result of inclement weather.
If the number of snow days becomes excessive, we will consider implementing modified virtual learning days in place of snow days. In this situation, we would communicate this change in snow day procedures ahead of time and share the specifics of how we would provide virtual instruction from home (for both students and staff).

For our parents and guardians, you can see, it is very important that you verify your contact information is correct in the Skyward system and that settings are correct for how you wish to receive school closing information. This is especially important if you have moved or changed your phone number since setting up your skyward account.

In situations where we are experiencing inclement weather, please remember to monitor local news/media outlets as they will be provided with information relative to school delays/closures. We will also contact families through our Skylert system and post this information on our district facebook page. When the situation allows, we will make the determination regarding school closing or delay the night before. However, we often need to drive the roads to determine road conditions and in those circumstances we will make the decision and notify families no later than 6:00 a.m. the day of the closing.

It is important to note that parents/guardians always have the option to keep their children home in situations of inclement weather. In these situations we ask that you call your child’s school to let them know of your decision.

Sincerely,

Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Schools

37 – COVID-19 Update – November 6 – Return to Face-to-Face Learning (Podcast)

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.

36 – COVID-19 Update – November 3 – Learning Plan November/December 2020

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.

Sincerely,

Dean R. Hess 

To view the original publication, CLICK HERE.

35 – COVID-19 Update – October 29 – Virtual Learning Update (Podcast)

Superintendent, Dean Hess, and instructional coach, Jason Schmidt, participated in a podcast discussing an update to our current virtual learning situation.  Please click the play button below to hear the podcast.

34 – COVID-19 Update – October 6 – Food Delivery During Virtual Learning

October 6, 2020

Good afternoon, 

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.

Thank you,

Jennifer Faccio
Food Service Director
920-848-4467 ext. 4041

Bryan Schroeder
Route Supervisor
920-848-4460