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2020 - 2021 LCS District Updates
This page was created with the intent of keeping all Lawton Community Schools members (students, parents, family members, teachers, administration, etc.) updated with latest information. Posts on this page shall be updated as soon as we are made aware of any situations pertaining to our community members or information that has been shared with us from the county or state health department.
Dear Blue Devils,
Today, the Governor issued a 12-day extension of the current COVID related restrictions. These restrictions include the continued, mandatory closure of high schools.
As you know, over the past several days, the district has requested and collected information from staff and parents regarding our eventual return to school. Thank you to all who submitted surveys or reached out to share your thoughts. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, parents are nearly evenly split on whether to return to in-person learning this week or hold off until after the holidays. (see chart below)
Among the comments submitted were compelling arguments for both returning and remaining remote. Please know that the Board of Education and administration understand the demands that remote learning places on families. We understand that in-person learning is more effective for most of our students. We also realize that the county, state, and country remain in the grips of the pandemic with case numbers in the high or critical categories.
Teachers were also surveyed with the goal of assessing current student engagement in remote learning. This data was also interesting. 78% of the teachers who responded indicated that a significant majority of their students were engaged to their satisfaction. 64% of teachers reported that the ability of their students to learn remotely has improved. And while these figures show that we still have work to do, they also show that our students (and teachers) are getting better at remote learning.
In addition to stakeholder feedback, we’ve also monitored current data provided by the Van Buren Cass County Health Department and www.covidactnow.org, a non-profit group associated with Georgetown University. Frankly, the data doesn’t look good. Take a look at the graph below for data specific to Van Buren County.
The Health Department has been providing us with weekly status reports as well. Their most recent risk assessment is shown below:
And while the Health Department has indicated that they will not issue direct orders to shut down schools, they do provide recommendations. When school districts are in the “E” or Highest Risk category and there are active cases in the community, the recommendation is to provide remote instruction for all students. Some might notice that there are no K-12 outbreaks. Keep in mind that all state high schools and many of our county’s middle and high schools have been learning remotely for the past two+ weeks.
All of this information has been given consideration as we’ve worked to make the right decision. And given our parent data, half of you will agree and the other half will not.
All of us want our students back in school as soon as possible. But the health data is simply too overwhelming for us to return to in-person learning now. There are six scheduled days of instruction and two days of planned remote learning between December 10 and the start of the holiday break. Teachers and students have developed routines for remote learning. We are committed to continuous improvement and encourage any student or parent who is having difficulty to reach out to your teachers and building principal. We are also concerned about the overall well-being of all students. If you have concerns about the health or safety of any of our community’s children, please reach out to a school counselor or administrator who can provide support and direct you to resources.
Many have expressed concern that holiday gatherings could negatively impact the rates of infection. Given this possibility, we are extending the remote learning period through Friday, January 8. This provides a 10-day period following New Years Day for any new cases to be identified before our students and staff return to our school buildings. This 10-day period coincides with the new CDC guidelines for quarantine assuming an individual is asymptomatic.
Some will ask “if the state mandate only applies to high school, why don’t we open our elementary and middle schools?” This is a good question that’s been given much consideration. Many of the survey respondents, including a majority of teachers, have concerns about the challenges presented by continuous starting and stopping. As the earlier data indicated, teachers feel that most kids are settling into a routine and to return now would be disruptive.
If we see the improvements that we’re all hoping for, we will re-open our schools for in-person instruction on Monday, January 11. Throughout this remote learning period, and the holiday break, it is important that the school community continues to report cases of COVID impacting your families.
Again, I urge students and parents to reach out for support. Many issues can be corrected if we continue to communicate.
Dear LCS Parents, Caregivers, and Staff,
In an earlier message, I indicated that an announcement regarding our plans for resuming in-person instruction would be made on Friday of this week. As I’ve continued to gather information to assist with this decision, we’ve heard that in the coming days – perhaps next Monday – the Governor will make an announcement regarding the current “three week pause” that has closed many facilities including high schools. So, rather than make an announcement that could later be negated by the Governor or MDHHS, I’m going to hold off until Monday of next week to make an announcement about re-opening our school buildings.
As we move closer to that date, I want to thank those who have contacted me to share information about COVID exposure. The re-opening schools decision will not be an easy one. There are valid reasons for returning to in-person learning and also for remaining remote. To help me better assess where we stand on this issue as a school community, I’m asking parents of in-person learners (or those planning to return to in-person) to complete a very brief survey at this link. Your responses will be taken into consideration along with input from staff, community spread data, and public health guidance.
Please know that your input and patience are much appreciated.