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:
- Please continue to monitor updates on our district website
- We will reevaluate on November 2nd and every two weeks thereafter.
- School District Staff will report to work and offices will remain open
- Principals will share more information with their families regarding the specifics of the transition
- More information regarding school breakfast/lunch programming will be forthcoming. We are currently planning how we can implement a breakfast/lunch dropoff program to support our families.
Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Oconto Falls Public Schools