District shifting to Distance Learning on Nov. 30

District to shift all students to Distance Learning on Nov. 30
Posted on 11/19/2020
Distance Learning graphicAs Thanksgiving approaches, there is plenty we are grateful for this holiday season.

The perseverance and attitude of our students. These past four months of school have been unlike any other they have experienced. They have learned to adapt to the new normal and they have made the absolute best out of each day. We can learn a lot from them.

The continued support of our students’ parents and guardians. Like the students, you have adjusted your schedules and plans and adapted to the protocols that are necessary for us to provide a safe and healthy environment for your children. Thank you.

The steadfast and selfless approach to instruction by our teachers. They have put their own concerns aside, and each day they come to school focused and ready to teach despite the ever-growing obstacles in their way. There are not enough words to describe the nobility they have displayed this year.

We are grateful that we have been able to provide the traditional in-person instruction that the vast majority of our teachers, students, and parents want. However, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to provide the traditional experience because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Therefore, Sapulpa Public Schools will transition to Distance Learning for students in all grades beginning Monday, Nov. 30 and continuing until at least Friday, Dec. 4. More information about Distance Learning will be available soon.

Over the past few weeks, the dramatic spread of cases in the state has been described as “exponential and unyielding” and partly attributed to "Halloween and related activities" by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Creek County is not immune to this spread and we project that when the official report is released on Friday, we will move into the High-Risk Red Level. And, that spread has already made an impact on our schools.

We have experienced an uptick in the number of COVID-19 isolations and quarantines from last week among our teaching staff. That increase combined with the number of teachers who are absent due to other illnesses or unrelated leave, along with the lack of available substitute teachers, is a leading factor in this decision. In addition to teachers, we have reached the 30 percent absentee rate of the students who are enrolled in the traditional setting. Providing an optimal instructional environment for our students - whether they are in the classroom or in quarantine - has become increasingly more difficult and put an immense strain on our staff and resources.

As we have said continually during the pandemic, we have maintained communication with local and state health officials to help us understand the dynamics of the virus. Those consultations grant us invaluable information and insight to help guide our decisions. Due to the many gatherings of friends and families during the week of Thanksgiving, there is concern about the potential for spread of the virus. Individuals infected with COVID-19 begin showing symptoms typically 5 to 7 days following exposure. That timeline for the appearance of symptoms and the subsequent infectious period would occur during the week after the holiday when we would typically be in school. By transitioning to Distance Learning the week following Thanksgiving, we are trying to mitigate the possible spread of the virus and exposing others to it inside our schools. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Sapulpa City Council and urge everyone to do their part to help stop the spread - wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands.

We understand this decision isn’t ideal for everyone, but as we said last week, we will make decisions that are in the best interest of our schools and community. When it comes to the safety and well-being of our students and staff, we feel this decision will help us return to in-person instruction sooner rather than later.

Our plan is for our students to return to the classroom on Monday, Dec. 7, but that could change. We will continue to monitor the cases in our community and the impact on our staffing situation. We will review many different data points, as we have done daily since school began, and update you quickly about our next steps. If the data points suggest we need to stay in Distance Learning, we will make that announcement as soon as possible. If the data points suggest we can return to the classroom, we will make that announcement as soon as possible. We will keep you informed.

As we approach the holiday season, we are thankful for the opportunity to teach your children and we are grateful for your support of our schools. We hope that you are able to reflect on the good times this year with your family during the holiday break and that you and your loved ones remain happy, healthy, and safe.

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