November 17, 2020
Dear Bulldog Community,
I am writing for the purpose of communicating a growing concern that I have regarding our ability to keep our school buildings open. In order to avoid a last minute announcement of school closing due to a staffing shortage, the district will switch to Full Remote eLearning for Monday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 24. Our intention is to use this instructional model for only those 2 days, and we will return to our typical hybrid schedule on November 30. That decision will be contingent upon the staff available to teach students. Please plan to watch for a follow-up email communication to come shortly from your child’s building principal with information about the Full Remote eLearning schedule for your child’s building.
Since the onset of COVID19 our school district has been mostly successful in mitigating the spread of the virus within our school community. We opened on September 8 within a hybrid model when many other public schools did not, and we’ve been able to safely remain open. We have cooperated and collaborated with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health regarding all of our mitigation protocols and have coordinated with them on every case that has occurred. Based on our data, there was only 1 case that was traced to adult-to-adult transmission in one of our buildings and that occurred in late August. Since then, the cases that we’ve had within our school community have been traced back to our staff contracting COVID from those outside our school. With regards to our students, those cases have been traced to their parents or another family member. All have occurred as a result of contact outside of school.
Recently, we have witnessed a significant increase in Ohio’s number of confirmed COVID19 cases. In addition, the number of cases within Cuyahoga County have also continued to increase exponentially. The COVID19 positive testing indicator that is used in Cuyahoga County (an indicator regarding the prevalence of community spread) is now in double digits (11/6: 10.10%; 11/13: 14.9%). Comparatively, our lowest percentage was 2.4% on September 25.
During the first two months of school the number of students and staff reportedly missing school because of COVID19 reasons (either due to exposure or having a confirmed case) were low (September: 9 cases; October: 14 cases). Since November 1, we have had a total 101 new cases (staff and/or students) in quarantine, and within the last 9 days (November 9 to November 17) we have 75 cases of individuals with COVID19 or needing to quarantine because of exposure. While I am concerned about all cases and everyone’s health, the climbing numbers have had an impact on our ability to adequately staff our classrooms and school buildings. While the will is certainly there to keep schools open, as the quarantine numbers accelerate, our ability to maintain in-person learning is going to suffer.
The good news is that the safety protocols that are in place seem to be adequately mitigating spread and people are not getting sick due to being in school. The bad news is the source of spread comes from places outside of school and while it is beyond our control, we suffer the consequences. We will continue to do everything that is within our control to provide high quality instruction and supervise our students as we are moving staff around to cover classrooms for adults that are in quarantine.
I want you to know that we are trying our best to push through the holiday season and avoid closing, but there is a very real possibility that we are not going to be able to remain open after Thanksgiving due to the increase in cases (i.e. those testing negative and in quarantine or those testing positive and in quarantine), and our inability to effectively staff our buildings.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I would respectfully ask that you wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and do your best to adequately distance. Finally, in order to be a substitute teacher it requires a bachelor’s degree and substitute teaching license. If you’re interested, please contact our Director of Human Resources, James Tatman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-427-6000.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dr. Jim Lloyd, Superintendent
Olmsted Falls City School District
26937 Bagley Rd.
Olmsted Township, OH 44138