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COVID 19

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Elkins School District COVID-19 Hotline Number: 844-247-7471

 

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March 30, 2021

Parents and Guardians,

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today that the statewide mask mandate was lifted, effective immediately.  However, Elkins School District adopted a policy for this school year in August 2020.  This policy, which requires facemasks to be worn by students in grades 3-12 and staff when social distancing is not possible, will remain in place for the immediate future.  Our district leadership and Ready for Learning team will begin examining COVID-19 related data immediately.  A final decision regarding the facemask requirement will be made by mid-April.  Once that decision has been made I will communicate that information to all patrons.

It is important to note that if ESD removes the mask requirement, facemasks will still be encouraged to be worn by students and staff when adequate social distancing is not possible.  Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns regarding this issue.  

Go Elks!

Jeremy Mangrum
Superintendent 

 

 

December 11, 2020

Parents and Guardians, 

Due to the increasing number of student cases of COVID-19 and large number of subsequent student quarantines the sixth grade at Elkins Middle School will shift to remote virtual learning December 14, 2020 through December 18, 2020.  Onsite classes for sixth graders will resume as normal on December 21, 2020.  All students were sent home with their district-issued Chromebook and charging cord today.  

The format for virtual learning for next week will mirror each student’s daily class schedule.  Students should log on to their Chromebook and join Google Classroom by 8:00 a.m. each morning.  Each teacher will have a Google Meeting set up for students to join during each class period.  Students will be expected to follow their normal class schedule and log on to each teacher’s Google Meeting at the correct time.  The bell schedule is listed below:

8:00 - 8:50 Specials

8:55 - 9:45 1st Class

9:50-10:40 2nd Class

10:45 - 11:55 3rd Class

11:55-12:25 Lunch

12:30 - 1:20 4th Class

1:25 - 2:15 5th Class

2:20 - 3:20 Elk Hour (Tutoring/GT)

Teachers will host the Google Meetings with each class each day of the week in order to provide an opportunity for live instruction and discussion, and will post assignments that students need to complete in Google Classroom.  If you do not have reliable internet access please contact the Middle School office for assistance.  If students do not log on and join the Google Meeting for each class they will be counted absent.  Food service/meal pickup will be available for all students on Monday, December 14th from 9:30-10:30 in the bus lane in front of Elkins Primary School.  You can pick up free breakfast and lunch for all five days of the week at one time.  Further questions about meal pickup can be sent to lskelton@elkinsdistrict.org. 

We are confident that pausing onsite instruction will help prevent further spread of the virus, and ultimately is the best decision to promote student and staff health and safety.  I appreciate your understanding and support in this endeavor.  Please monitor your child for symptoms and make sure you report any positive COVID-19 test result within the household to the Elkins COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-247-7471.


Jeremy Mangrum

Superintendent 

 

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November 23, 2020

Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds you and your family well, and preparing to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday season.  You are likely aware of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases around the state, and unfortunately we are seeing that same trend at Elkins School District.  Until the end of last week our number of confirmed positive cases had been very small.  So small in fact that it was below the threshold for what the Arkansas Department of Health advised should be legally published.  ADH counseled school leaders in August that if the active case count was below five total cases then school districts should not share case counts in order to avoid a potential HIPAA violation.  In accordance with that guidance ESD has not been publishing case counts.  We have seen a surge of positive cases in recent days that has put us over the threshold of five or more active cases which means we will now be keeping a running total of confirmed case counts on the district website under the COVID-19 tab.

Currently, ESD is aware of twelve (12) active cases of COVID-19 between students and staff members.  This is a substantial increase within the past week as we only had seven (7) confirmed total cases between students and staff members over the first twelve (12) weeks of school, and during that period there were never more than three active cases at any time.  Another COVID-19 data point that has been watched carefully throughout the school year is the ADH’s COVID-19 Local View that can be found at this web address: https://achi.net/covid19/.  This webpage will allow you to filter by county, city limit, school district boundaries, and zip code.  One important note is that when filtering by school district boundaries to look at data it does not mean that you are looking at the cases among students and staff specifically.  The cases listed are totals from all persons, regardless of age, that reside inside the district boundary lines.  You can click on each individual district in the map to get a pop up box that will give you the more specific data about cases within the school district.  Also, the districts are color coded with green being the lowest case numbers and red/purple being the highest case numbers.  Elkins School District has been green for the entire school year with the exception of one week in October when we dipped to yellow for a few days before moving back to green.  That changed this past Friday when our district dipped to orange status on the map.  

I want to be clear that I am not announcing any type of shift or pivot to virtual learning in any of our schools, and as of this point the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and Governor Asa Hutchinson have been clear about the expectation to continue onsite instruction unless it is not possible.  Based on current information we will be back in session on Monday, November 30, 2020 as planned.  If that changes due to increased confirmed positive cases over the holiday break you will be notified, but no change is anticipated currently.

With more positive cases come more students that are ordered to quarantine.  Many of you have dealt with or will soon be dealing with your child(ren) being quarantined after it has been determined that the student was a Probable Close Contact (PCC) to a confirmed positive case.  I want to remind you of the protocols established by ADH and DESE regarding contact tracing within the school that we are required to follow.

  • When notified of a positive case our District Point of Contact (POC) immediately begins the contact tracing process.  This contact tracing is limited to exposure while at school or school activities.

  • Any student or staff member that meets the definition set by ADH as a PCC is contacted along with the parent/guardian and notified of the 14-day quarantine.  If a student/staff is within six feet of a confirmed positive case for 15 cumulative minutes during a 24-hour period then that person meets the definition of a PCC.

  • Students/staff that are identified as PCC’s are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be tested for COVID-19 on day five after exposure or sooner if symptoms develop.

  • When a student/staff member is identified as a PCC that person is not told who exposed them unless it is necessary to complete the contact tracing process.  Parents should not demand to be told who the person was that exposed their child as this information will not be shared.  This is prohibited by law.

  • If you have multiple children in the district it is very possible that one of them could get quarantined while the others are still allowed to go to school.  Again, ESD is following ADH protocol by allowing the siblings to remain in attendance.  The siblings are considered to be secondary contacts, and will not be required to quarantine unless someone living in the residence tests positive.  If you choose to keep all siblings home when one of them is quarantined that is permitted, but you must notify the district POC and/or building principal of this decision.  

  • While under quarantine, students will still need to complete their work from home as virtual students until the end of the quarantine period.

  • There is a COVID-19 hotline number that can be called to report a positive case seven days per week.  That number is 844-247-7471.

Our teachers and other staff members have worked extremely hard this school year to make the school environment as safe as possible, and largely we have been successful at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.  Also, our students have done a fantastic job of complying with new rules and directives.  However, we all have to continue to be diligent about following the guidelines in order to slow the spread.  Elkins School District will be heavily sanitizing all school buildings and district facilities during the Thanksgiving break, and we ask that you continue to work with us in order to make our schools as safe as possible.  Encourage your children to wear their mask, wash their hands, distance when possible.  Please screen your child(ren) for symptoms daily before school, and keep them home if they are sick.  Our goal is to provide a safe, high-quality educational environment for all of our students and staff members, and I am confident we can do that with everyone working together.  

Go Elks!

Jeremy Mangrum
Superintendent

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July 9, 2020

 

Parents and Guardians,

 

There was a significant announcement made today regarding the start date for public schools in August.  As you know Elkins School District’s 2020-2021 school calendar had the first day of school scheduled for August 13, 2020.  Based on Governor Asa Hutchinson’s directive that was given this afternoon we will not be starting school as planned.  Schools have been ordered to move the start date back to the week of August 24, 2020.  It is my understanding that we can choose any date between August 24 and August 26 to be the first day of school.  

Elkins School District was not given advance notice of this directive by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education so at this point our planning team has not been able to identify all of the potential ramifications of this school calendar change.  I am hopeful that we will receive much more information soon.  This will help our team make informed decisions about the upcoming school year, and that information will be communicated to students and parents as soon as possible.

This is a good example of how flexible our staff members, students, parents, and patrons will have to be during this upcoming 2020-2021 school year.  I hope you and your family are healthy.  Please continue to monitor your email, our district webpage, and social media pages for the most current updated information regarding the 20-21 school year.  If you have questions please feel free to reach out to me at jmangrum@elkinsdistrict.org.

Go Elks!

Jeremy Mangrum
Superintendent 

 

 

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June 24, 2020

Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds you and your family well.  Our team at Elkins School District has been working tirelessly to plan for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, and that task has not been without challenges.  Our number one priority has always been and will continue to be the health and safety of our students and staff members.  With that in mind some changes will be made to procedures, and this letter will detail those procedural changes by explaining what onsite education will look like in Elkins Schools when we start classes in August.  Also, you will see an explanation of what virtual school provided by Elkins School District will look like.  This letter will be lengthy, but it is important that you read in its entirety in order to understand your options in the upcoming school year as we as a district continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

All plans, restrictions, and requirements for onsite instruction during the 2020-2021 school year have been formulated under the guidance of two entities.  The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) have combined to issue directives to schools in order to plan for reentry.  The document guiding schools is officially known as the Arkansas Ready for Learning Plan, and it can be found on the Arkansas Department of Education’s website.  Our district is using this guide to plan for reentry.  However, it is important to remember that this is a fluid situation, and sometimes guidance and requirements change.  It is possible that new directives could be issued later this Summer which could facilitate changes to what Elkins School District will require during the 20-21 school year.

As of this moment, Elkins Schools will be in session as normal for onsite learning and instruction beginning August 13, 2020.  The following list are items that our planning committee has addressed, and we feel it is paramount that this list is communicated to you:

  • All cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been evaluated and modified accordingly.  Cleaning and disinfecting will be increased with a specific focus on disinfection of commonly touched surfaces multiple times per day.  We have invested in additional large scale disinfection devices that will disperse ionized chemicals that are completely safe to be used around children, but will also kill the Coronavirus. 
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers have been ordered and will be installed in every classroom.  Also, free standing hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed strategically in common areas throughout the building to allow for frequent use by students and staff.
  • Classrooms will be rearranged in order to maximize the distance between student learning stations.  Our goal is to get the recommended six feet of social distance between each student’s learning station.  This will not be possible in certain classrooms due to the size.  In those classrooms as much distance as possible will be allotted between students.
  • Facemasks will be strongly recommended for students in grades 4-12.  Facemasks will be strongly recommended to be worn by students in these grades when social distancing is not possible during times like transition between classes.  Facemasks will not be required as Elkins School District is following the recommendations of DESE and ADH.  We are encouraging all students to bring their own facemask with them to school to be worn when physical distancing is not feasible.  Facemasks will not be worn during PE class, recess, or any other time when students are physically exerting themselves.  Social distancing will be encouraged during these times.
  • We will be modifying building lunch schedules in middle and high schools and recess schedules in primary and elementary schools.  In essence, there will be more lunch periods and staggered recess periods in our lower grades than we have had in previous years.  Students in grades K-5 will still have 40 total minutes of recess per day.  These changes will reduce the number of students gathered in one place at one time.  Lunch table capacities will be limited so that fewer students are sitting in close proximity to one another at the lunch table.
  • Cafeteria procedures are being modified as well.  Elkins Schools will provide badges to all students that can be scanned in the cafeteria at the point of sale.  This will prevent the need for students to manually enter their student lunch ID number on the keypad.  Also, there will be no self-serve for students.  All food handling and serving will be handled by staff members.  Cash handling procedures are being altered as well to make the environment safer for students and staff.
  • All common use water fountains will be inactivated when school begins in August.  Each school building is now equipped with water bottle/cup filling stations.  We are asking each student to bring a refillable water bottle each day in order to access the water filling station. 
  • Parents will be encouraged to screen your child each day before sending them to school.  Students should be checked for fever and kept home if the temperature is greater than 100.4 F.  Students showing fever or other symptoms will be sent home from school. 
  • All large student gatherings/assemblies will be suspended indefinitely.  Examples of this would be any building-wide assembly such as a pep rally.
  • Bus transportation will function normally and all routes will run as usual.  Social distancing will be applied when possible, but it is important to note that distancing will not be possible on many of our buses due to the amount of riders.  Facemasks are strongly recommended to be worn by all students in grades 4-12 while on the school bus.
  • If we are notified that a student tests positive for COVID-19 then all current ADH guidance and requirements will be followed. 

We recognize the fact that some parents may not feel comfortable sending children to school even though many precautions are being taken to provide the safest school environment possible.  In order to meet the learning needs of those students Elkins School District will offer a full service virtual school in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.  Many of you became familiar with the aspects of virtual school during the spring when we were required to shut the school doors with the rest of the schools in the state.  If a parent chooses the virtual school option in the coming year the following list of comprises what can be expected:

  • Elkins School District will provide a school issued Chromebook computer and charger, certified teachers that will deliver instruction and oversee learning, and all supplemental computer software access to learning programs that an onsite student would have access to. 
  • One important difference between this past Spring and the upcoming school year will be the workload that students will be expected to complete.  Based on DESE guidance we backed down requirements of students and only covered essential standards.  In most cases students needed 60-90 minutes per day online to complete their work to finish out the past school year.  This will not be the case for 20-21.  Virtual students will be expected to complete the same activities and work that onsite students do which means that students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade can expect to be working on the computer 3-4 hours per day while students in grades six through twelve should expect to put in 4-5 hours of work time per day.  These are projections based on the average learner.  Advanced students may finish in less time than projected while struggling learners may take much longer to complete the work.
  • Students will use Google Classroom as the primary learning management system.  Recordings of lessons will be uploaded regularly during the week so that virtual students are getting the same instruction as their onsite peers.  There will be multiple Zoom/Google Meets offered weekly for students to have live interaction with their teacher(s) and ask questions as needed.  Students will submit work through Google Classroom online based on due dates and all normal grading systems will be applied.
  • Based on DESE requirements this past school year we had to modify grading practices during the final quarter.  Some students did not complete all of their assigned work, but did not see lower grades due the fact that DESE mandated that students grades could not go down from the third quarter grade.  This will not be the case in 20-21.  Normal grading practices will be followed, and if students do not complete assignments they will receive failing grades.
  • Students that choose virtual school will still be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, but those students must attend onsite for at least one class period per day.  The one period per day rule is an Arkansas Activities Association requirement.
  • Students that choose virtual school will be allowed to make a change and attend onsite school during the school year, but will only be allowed to do so at the beginning of each grading period.  These dates are October 14, January 7, and March 15.  Parents must notify their child’s building principal of the intent to change two weeks in advance of the end of the current grading period.
  • Parents should consider the reliability and speed of their home internet service when making decisions as virtual students will need reliable and accessible internet to complete activities and assignments.
  • Students who attend virtual school will still be required to be on campus later in the year to complete all applicable state mandated assessments.

Elkins School District will be sending out a required survey early in July.  We will be asking you to submit your choice of onsite or virtual school to us by July 10 so that we can make final master scheduling plans in advance of the first day of school on August 13.  Another contingency that we are planning for, and that parents and students need to be aware of is that onsite instruction could change very quickly during the school year.  If we experience an outbreak of COVID-19 in the district it is possible that we could shut down all onsite activities and classes for one to two weeks to mitigate the spread.  If we do this all students will continue to attend virtual school.  The transition from onsite to virtual and back to onsite will be as seamless as possible.

We are generating a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on our district website which will be posted soon.  As you prepare to make the best decision for your student I would encourage you to visit the FAQ page for more information.  The page will be updated frequently with questions and answers that are posed to us in the weeks to come.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have a specific question about the coming school year.

As you can see, we will be modifying many of our onsite procedures to make the environment as safe and healthy as possible, but much of the school day will look like it has in the past.  It is not realistic to think that students can wear masks all day and be kept six feet apart at all times.  Frankly, that is not feasible or practical.  However, we will be encouraging and facilitating as much physical distancing as possible and strongly recommending masks when physical distancing is not possible for grades 4-12 in order to make the environment as safe as possible.  I hope that this document has answered many of the questions you have about the upcoming school year.  No matter what the format looks like we will continue to deliver a world-class education to our students. 

Go Elks!

Jeremy Mangrum
Superintendent 

”Committed to Excellence”