Sent to district parents this morning:
Dear High School Families,
Earlier this week I communicated with you about the possibility of temporarily adjusting the high school schedule due to virus level in our community and the high number of students and staff that attend our high schools everyday. As you already know, our high schools are large communities with up to 2,500 people in the building on a daily basis.
After looking at Douglas and Sarpy County data, I am changing the schedule to accommodate lower numbers for the next two weeks. I am taking this proactive step so that we have our best chance to keep our students and staff safe and our buildings open. Starting this coming Monday, August 17th, through Friday, August 28th, the high schools will be on a model that reduces daily in-person attendance by 50%.
Students will attend school in their building half the time and zoom into classes for the other half. Students will be in class every day, either remotely or in person. You will receive a letter from your building principal soon with more details.
I am sorry that I have to make this decision. Nobody wants our students in school at 100% more than I do. I understand the many benefits of in-person learning and the sense of community that our high school students feel when they are together. I also am extremely concerned about the current level of community spread and again ask for your help. Our students and community can slow down the spread by wearing masks outside of the home, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.
There are two components around COVID-19 that we all need to understand. The first is a positive test for the virus. The second is what is known as a “close contact.” According to Douglas County Health, a “close contact” is defined as a person who has been within six feet of an infected person for more than fifteen cumulative minutes in a twenty-four hour period of time.
Our layered safety protocols of masking, hand washing, and surface cleaning combined with social distancing to the best of our ability can prevent the spread of the virus. It does not, however, eliminate quarantining requirements that are in place if someone is deemed a “close contact.” These quarantine requirements are set by the Douglas County Health Department, and apply to both students and staff. We have built a contingency plan that allows your child to attend school remotely if he or she is forced to quarantine. We don’t have that same flexibility with teachers. This is both a student and a workforce issue, and because of COVID-19, we have a limited number of substitute teachers.
The only way we can stop the disruption to your child’s education is to come together as a community to slow down the spread. If we do that, we will reduce close contact exposure at school. As I said earlier in this letter, I need your help.
Jim Sutfin, Ed.D.