Hello London Families and Staff,
It was wonderful to see our students walk back into our buildings earlier today. Although we are not able to bring all students back fully as we would have preferred, the energy in our schools is palatable as our students return to campus. It is sometimes difficult to remember all the details and decisions made prior to the holidays especially when things change quickly. In order to keep you up-to-date, listed below is a quick recap of our learning plan to start the semester.
Health Department Advisory and Six Feet Social Distance Order
During a briefing in late December, Health Director Cook indicated that the then current county health advisory, which suggested schools remain virtual and recommended the postponement of all extracurricular activities, would be extended until January 31st, 2021. While the advisory is not mandatory, what is mandatory is that schools maintain a mandatory minimum of six (6) feet of social distance for all individuals at school. In addition to the school guidance, the health department extended a moratorium on large public gatherings in the county until the end of this month.
Current Case Trends
Cases in Madison County peaked on December 9th and have since declined by more than 20%. It is widely anticipated that cases will rise after the holidays. Since moving to virtual learning on November 30th, the number of London students, who have tested positive or were required to be quarantined or be isolated due to close contact has dropped as expected from 284 to 4 as of last week. This being said, we begin the new year with seven staff members, who are either quarantined or isolated. We will keep a wary eye on case numbers as we begin school in our hybrid format.
Current Educational Plan
The district has opened the second semester in a hybrid format for all schools. Students opting for in person learning with the last names beginning with the letter A-K will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays, while students with last names beginning with L-Z will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. Classes will be held virtually for these students on Wednesdays. All families were given the option to opt in to the district’s fully virtual educational program, Raider Remote, in December.
Future Educational Plan
Our school district continues to make decisions on the status of educational programming based on the availability of staff and the prevalence of the virus in the county. We continue to strive to have students on our campus as much as possible. Given the six (6) foot requirement for social distancing, it is not possible to move to fully in person learning right now. If this rule is relaxed as it was prior to Thanksgiving and staffing and case numbers are trending in the right direction, the district would move to fully in person learning.
Changing State Guidance
Recently, Governor Dewine announced that schools would no longer have to quarantine students who are close contacts as long as they are properly masked at school. Provided students are following the rules in regard to keeping distance, this should almost eliminate the need for students to miss school due to close contact while on campus. Governor Dewine’s announcement, however, does not extend to students who participate in athletics. These students would still be required to quarantine if they come in close contact during practices or competitions.
Vaccine Availability and Distribution
London City Schools has volunteered to support vaccine distribution for the community and our staff. Schools have been informed that as frontline workers, teachers and staff would be given priority for vaccine distribution. At this time, we have received no information about vaccine timelines or plans for distribution.
I hope that you find this information helpful as we start a promising new year. Let’s hope 2021 lives up to the promise of being a whole lot better than the dumpster fire that was 2020.
Dr Lou Kramer