Hello, Polk Schools Family!

I am writing to again ask for your help. As COVID cases continue to rise we are seeing an increased impact on our ability to keep students in school due to exposures and quarantining. For example, we learned about two unrelated positive cases on the same day in the same school. The tracing and resulting quarantines created a significant staffing issue, and caused us to temporarily stop in-person learning at that school. We know this is not good for students or families, but it was necessary given our small number of substitute teachers and limited ability to mix classes and groups.

We have been working very hard to follow safety procedures and protocols to keep everyone safe. While I am not being critical of anyone who has gotten COVID, nor do I believe anyone would intentionally expose others, I do want to be sure that we all do what we can to protect our students, staff, and families. We have reason to believe our efforts are working, as we have not observed spread of COVID in our schools. However, cases that come into our schools from external events and sources are sometimes forcing us to quarantine a large number of students and taking a toll on staffing.

So how can you help? First, I would ask you to help us by keeping your students at home when they are sick or not feeling well, or if you know they have been a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID. Next, I would ask that we all think about how we can lessen the risk of exposure as we participate in traditional holiday gatherings. Finally, I would encourage people to follow the guidance given to us by health officials to wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. With everyone’s help we can get through the winter months and keep our students in our classrooms.

I want to be clear that this has nothing to do with politics, nor is it intended to imply that I think I should be telling people what to do. It is simply a plea to help us keep our students in school, something that ultimately depends on how well we do with COVID as a community.

I want to thank all of you again for being so patient and understanding with us, especially as we have to quarantine or change schedules. I know things are frustrating and discouraging, but I offer by working together and taking the extra steps to mitigate the spread of the virus we are benefitting our students in the long run.

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I know Better Days are Ahead!

Take care of each other, Polk County!