This has been a strange and stressful time for public education. As we make difficult decisions on what is best for our school district, we appreciate the feedback and input you have given, as it allowed for us to move forward with a plan that works for our community. As we continue to work together, I wanted to give you some important reminders that will allow for us to support our staff and students as we start school. Please keep in mind that our current health data allows us to start school, with safety guidelines. We know that many of you are excited to come back to school face to face, but this is only possible if we maintain the safety expectations needed to have live instruction. This is the most important thing you can do to keep our staff and students healthy.
We need your help with getting students to realize how important masks are for the return to school. Our website www.charlotteorioles.com/our-district/ready-to-learn/ has a tab with helpful one page information sheets and videos on how to talk with your student about wearing a mask. Visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html to find the CDC guidance on how to make your own mask and how to clean them properly for daily use. We did get a wonderful donation from Eaton Rapids Medical Masks and community member Nate Shaver, so that every staff/student can be given a reusable mask and staff can also be given a face shield as well! It is very important to talk with your student about how to wear a mask properly, and have them practice wearing them. One parent’s idea was to only offer electronics if their child wore a mask during that time, to get them used to a face covering. For secondary students, the face mask expectation is a priority. If you want to eventually have sports with crowds, dances, and large events, we need you to help by wearing a mask. We appreciate your support!
Each classroom will have either a sink or hand sanitizer, to wash hands as often as possible. Please talk to your students about the importance of utilizing this, several times throughout the day. Also, we encourage personal hand sanitizers for students, so that they can clean their hands from their seats if needed.
While our area is in Phase 4, no visitors are allowed in our buildings. We want to keep our number of people in the buildings as low as possible, so if you have to drop off a forgotten item, you can ring the buzzer, and there will be an area where you can drop off the item for pick up. Labeling the item with the student name/teacher/grade, would be helpful. For our younger students, we know that this might make the first day of school more challenging, so please look to building communications for virtual open house information and/or drive through events. We would encourage taking first day of school pictures at home, and sending them to email@example.com so we can post them on our social media! Also, note that we do have guest staff that come to our buildings as substitutes, mail carriers, or RESA support staff, which may be entering the buildings. So if you see an adult entering the building, know that they are a staff member or essential worker.
As we look at the logistics of how to reduce large crowds and keep social distancing, each building will have new expectations for our students.A conversation with students about how school may have different routines will be important as we start our year. Building communication will be coming soon, but you may be asked to come in a different doorway, drop off in a different area, etc. Students will have different spacing options in the lunchrooms, and recess will have separations between each area. We will be working with our students to teach these expectations, but we also need your help. We will be asking parents to not drop off students early, and keep to your expected building drop off time, that will be communicated with you. This will allow us to stagger our bus drop offs as well, and limit large crowds at the start of the day. We know that this may be an inconvenience, as it may conflict with work or other children’s drop off times, but if we want any option of face to face learning, we need to keep to stringent safety expectations to keep everyone healthy.
Daily Parent Screening
Another important support for returning to school would be Daily Student Screenings. We need parents to check their students for symptoms/exposures BEFORE they are transported to school. At the bottom of this communication, there is the Barry Eaton Health Department screener, which is also available online. [Editor’s note: See page 15] This does not have to be filled out or brought into school, but post it in a visible area in your home to go through before the start of your student’s day. This also includes what to do if any of the symptoms/exposures are checked, and when to stay home or contact your doctor. Thank you for keep our staff and students healthy by taking this important step each day.
One of the many reasons that parents advocated for Face to Face as an option for students, was to have that essential learning experience and social interactions. We are glad to have such dedicated community members willing to help us with our safety expectations listed above, to allow for this to occur. However, our health data supports this path only when our case numbers are low. We need for families to continue to make safe choices outside of school, to continue our lower case numbers. For example, we don’t want families to feel like all large group activity is safe, simply because school is back in session. We have spent funding and lots of effort/time to abide by as many aspects of the MI Safe Start Roadmap, that allow for schools to open. We need you to help making the safest choices for your families, to continue in person learning. Parents’ choices have been very difficult, and it is challenging to hold students back from what was normal behavior in the past. However, we need you to keep making the same safe choices you have been all summer or even safer ones, now that you may be getting the daily interaction for instruction.
Thank you for all that you do! This has been a start to school like none other, and I appreciate that you are willing to support our district by putting in the extra effort to keep us healthy!
Go Orioles! Oriole Pride!
Dr. Mandy Stewart- CPS Superintendent