Good afternoon and Happy Friday!
I hope this message finds everyone well and preparing for what looks to be a nice weekend. While we did have that “white stuff” on the ground this week, I am hopeful the nice weather will last a bit longer. I, for one, am not ready for Old Man Winter to rear his ugly head!
Today’s update will focus on something that is probably on all of our minds; the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Ohio.
As I have previously stated, area superintendents and myself meet every Friday for an inside look at our COVID numbers and the implications for schools. This week I attended meetings not only in Portage County, but also in Summit and Cuyahoga Counties.
While the numbers in Portage County are not nearly as high as others, there is significant spread in our county and the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases are increasing. Here is a summary of the critical points important to pass along to our school families.
- The Portage County Health Department (PCHD) is significantly behind in contacting those who are positive or a close contact due to the large number of positive cases.
- If you are sick and get a test, they are asking that you self-isolate until you receive your results.
- Do not go to work or school! If someone in the household gets a COVID test, all family members should quarantine while waiting for the results.
- If you receive a positive test result, do not wait on the PCHD to call you. Self-isolate, quarantine your immediate family living with you, immediately alert your school and workplace. There is a real chance that the PCHD will not contact you to begin contact tracing for several days.
Know that our team within the district has been and will continue to identify and call all close contacts. We will provide a tentative return date for those affected.
- If you test positive, identify and notify any close contacts you may have exposed due to gatherings, etc. Remember, a close contact is defined as contact of less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes (cumulative).
- If you are identified as a close contact, follow the directions for quarantine given to you by the school. The PCHD may NOT even be in contact with you prior to your return to school.
PCHD issued a Stay at Home Advisory (attached). Please take time to read it as it contains important information for Portage County Residents.
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On Monday at the meeting of the Board of Education, I will be discussing the current trend we are seeing in Ohio and Portage County and the implications for keeping our students and staff safe.
While the goal remains to have our students learn face-to-face safely for as long as we can, we still remain committed to looking at local data in order to determine a change in our instructional model. Any decisions made as a result of the discussion with the Board of Education will certainly be communicated out to the school community immediately.
Finally, as we process our data regarding the number of students who are considering returning from RDA for the second semester, the reality is this could force us to reevaluate our instructional model. We may have to move to our Hybrid Model for the third quarter. Right now with over 420 students enrolled in RDA, we can maintain the required three feet of distancing in classrooms and six feet of distancing at lunch.
Should a large number of students return, we may not be able to meet these distancing requirements. Our goal is to have this data ready in enough time to allow parents to make arrangements should we have to move to the Hybrid Model of instruction.
As we all begin to think about the upcoming holidays, we need to avoid large gatherings outside of your immediate household. The source of the viral spread has been directly linked to gatherings outside of school.
If we want to keep our kids in school, we have to practice the safety measures outlined by our Governor and Health Departments. We all have to work together to keep our students and staff safe and in school.
- Portage County Health offers drive up / drive through COVID testing. Here’s a schedule of available locations and times.
Please do all you can to keep your family healthy and safe during this time as well.
R. Michael Daulbaugh
Streetsboro City Schools