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Message from Superintendent Hart

No School on September 16

From Superintendent Hart,

Good afternoon parents and guardians, 

First of all, I want to tell all of you “Thanks” for your patience and support as we continue through this very unusual and unprecedented start to the school year. So far this school year, we have managed to stay mostly in the “yellow” zone for school operations, and we will continue to monitor our county health department recommendations and “Risk Dials” for future guidance. 

As you might imagine, our staff has been working extremely hard responding to the current COVID conditions. What they are doing and how they are handling the responsibilities (and challenges) presented by the pandemic and our “Return to School” plan is really unprecedented. Everyone (students, staff, and our families) have been going “above and beyond” to make things work, and I am so grateful for everyone’s efforts. Each new challenge can, at times, be overwhelming; however, the presence of students in our schools has been a wonderful gift, and it has been great to see how our students have responded thus far. We have amazing kids in our district! 

We are now over two+ weeks into school, and I am noticing some things that may need adjusting. In order to continue to maximize the educational experience for our students and families, our staff needs some additional time outside of our district-approved calendar (approved before COVID)  to deep clean our facilities, collaborate on how to enhance our digital instruction and “remote learning” capabilities, and plan for communicating with our families. That being said, District  OR-1 will be closed all day for students on Wednesday, September 16th. All staff will still work that day, and after-school activities for students will still take place at the high school. With such an important change, I would like to take a moment to explain my rationale for this decision. 

First of all, our staff needs additional time to prepare for the possibility of a district wide  “remote learning” environment (if we have to go into a “Red” risk dial situation). Although we hope this doesn’t happen, we want to be as prepared as possible so that instruction and learning can continue whether students are physically at school or not. We will also spend this time for teacher collaboration and enhancing our use of digital learning tools such as Canvas, Class DoJo, etc. Finally, we  will work on enhancing our communication with parents.

We will also take this time to “deep clean” our buildings and refresh our cleaning protocols. For example, having our staff and students eat in the classrooms at the elementary creates a situation where food is sometimes spilled.  In order to proactively keep our carpets, floors, and classrooms in good shape, we need to “deep clean” these areas as soon as possible to avoid “ground in” stains and lingering odors. Most important, this gives us an opportunity to fully “reset” our buildings regarding sanitizing for COVID.

In summary, I believe this decision is an investment in making sure that we remain proactive in responding to the current needs of our students, staff, and our community. To clarify, Wednesday, September 16th will be no school for students, and Tuesday, September 22nd will still be parent-teacher conferences (but they will be digital).

Your building principals will be sending out additional information in the next few days about items specific to their buildings. 

Thank you again for your support! 

Go Panthers!