September 22, 2020

Dear Independence School Families,

I wanted to reach out to thank you for the role you’ve played in our great start to a unique school year and to also review some of our important processes I believe are a necessary part of this unique year.

As our teachers, bus drivers, custodians and school administrators prepared for the start of our year, we anticipated many unknowns and understood flexibility would be a key part of our year.  We had never before done things in our district like create a virtual academy, prepare to “go remote” at the drop of a hat, and implement distancing and mask policies to safely return.  Our Independence Local Schools’ staff was up for the challenge, and did an excellent job preparing for the 2020-21 school year.  As our students returned to our buses, classrooms and fields, earlier this month, the smiles in their eyes and eagerness to get to work made all of the summer planning worth it.  I have had so many staff members express deep gratitude for the work we get to do with our kids and the ability to be doing it in person this fall.  Our students have been outstanding.  The eagerness they have collectively shown in our in-person and virtual learning environments has impressed the staff.

I want to thank you for helping us with our return protocols.  While I know mask policies, health assessments and symptom monitoring can be frustrating, these are a critical component of us being able to do what many districts are not doing - have our school buildings open for students five days a week.

As the cold and flu season approaches, we are aware that illnesses will become more prevalent and that often-times non-Covid illnesses may present similar symptoms as Covid-19.  Simply put, our schools being open for staff and students is too important for us to relax our symptom policies.  

We are enforcing these policies for all staff and students who enter into our school buildings.

  • Daily health assessments (WorkSafe App)
  • Home for 10 days* with Covid-related symptoms:
  • Fever (100.4 or higher) or chills
  • Persistent Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle Pain/Fatigue
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • *A physician’s note specifying the individual may return to school would limit the 10-day period.
  • 14-Day Quarantine with direct/close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBOH) on contact tracing and quarantine procedures in the event of a positive case.

I realize the 10-day period of not attending school may seem overreaching, especially in the event you are confident the symptoms are caused by something other than Covid-19.  As I mentioned before, our desire to have our students and staff all in school and to do so in as safe and healthy a way as possible is just too important for us not to follow this protocol.  Our teachers are aware there will be much more remote learning for individuals who must stay home with symptoms or who have to enter into a time of quarantine.  Teachers will be working hard to connect virtually.  We have even had a teacher connect remote with students and teach an in-person class from a virtual setting as she completed her quarantine period of time.

Last week we worked through our first positive case since opening our classrooms; some of you saw how the contact tracing and quarantine processes work.  An entire grade - all of our eighth-grade students - are currently learning in a remote setting due to the critical mass of eighth-grade students and teachers who had to enter a quarantine period (45 people) out of an abundance of caution.  These procedures and precautionary steps are part of our reality.  We all have to be prepared for potential quarantine and remote learning.

I want to extend my sincere gratitude to you, our Independence families, for helping to make our start to the school year as successful as it has been.  We know Covid-19 is part of our reality.  We know symptoms, quarantine, masks and remote learning are here for some time.  We also know that the connections we make and the engagement we provide for our students always makes a difference in their lives.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or to find clarification on our school year or protocols.

Stay safe,

Ben Hegedish
Superintendent
Independence Local Schools
Independence Local Schools
7733 Stone Road
Independence, OH 44131