In four weeks from Monday, we will begin the 21-22 school year. I cannot wait to see our students back. Transparently, I miss seeing our students and parents in the carlines! As you know, registration is underway (click here to register), and students/parents can select from an in-person or virtual learning experience. There are so many things to look forward to this year, and we are eager to get started!
As you also know, it is evident that our world’s experience with COVID-19 is not yet over. While some developments make the start of this school year different than the last, we must not let our guard down against the virus in making sure we maximize the potential for a full school year. To that end, I urge you to consider the following.
In a recent conference call that school superintendents had with Missouri Governor Parson, his office shared information that showed vaccines are the leading mitigation strategy to prevent individuals from getting infected by the virus and transmitting it to others. Recently, Children's Mercy Hospital updated its COVID-19 guidance for schools and said the same thing. I highly encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations for those who are eligible to receive a vaccine to see if they are right for your child. The more protection we can provide ourselves will go a long way towards having a successful in-person school year. For a list of vaccination providers near you, please visit this link.
It is also important to note that a vaccinated individual will not be subject to quarantine if that individual has been exposed but is not showing symptoms of COVID-19, per current guidance from our health department. This is another way vaccinations are an important mitigation strategy.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
A very important part of making in-person schooling work this fall will be keeping your child at home if they are sick or are exhibiting symptoms. If your child has a fever, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, or any other symptom listed here, please keep her/him at home. We will also need your cooperation with isolations or quarantines of your child if you are directed to do so by the Cass County Health Department (CCHD). This is critical to helping reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in our classrooms.
At the current time and based on our experiences with summer school, face coverings for all unvaccinated persons will be highly recommended in all indoor environments. Students who are not vaccinated are requested to wear a face covering. We ask for your cooperation with this face covering request for all unvaccinated persons. As we move through the 21-22 school year, we will continue to look to the CCHD for guidance. As health professionals, our local health department is the best source of direction for mitigation measures. As of now, face coverings are not a requirement for school attendance. That may change if we are given that direction by the local health department or another authority, or if our in-person experience necessitates change.
Other Mitigation Measures
An incredible amount of work has been accomplished in readying ourselves for the upcoming school year. In many ways, our team has planned and adjusted several times already this summer given our ever-changing environment. I have included a summary of our mitigation planning efforts for the school year that met with approval from the Board of Education at our most recent meeting. A big thank you to all of those involved with that work! This is indeed an outstanding organization.
As I wrote in a recent email to you, the words with which we framed this past school year were Plan and Adjust, Patience and Grace, and Embrace the Ambiguity. With the way things are at the moment, we will all need to exercise those words again with each other as this year progresses. However, I also want us to focus on the following words to frame the 21-22 school year:
Hope. Growth. A Fresh Start.
With your support of the recent bond issue and the opportunities that it holds for our students, along with the return to five-day in-person classes at all levels and commitment to our virtual learning program known as VIPR, there is every reason to be excited for the 21-22 school year. To move forward successfully, we will all need to be mindful of the current situation we find ourselves in and respond accordingly.
Thank you for entrusting your children to the Ray-Pec School District.
I am passionately driven by the belief that Everyone Is Created To Flourish