September 21, 2021
Dear Mustang Students and Families:
I would like to thank everyone for your understanding and support in making the beginning of this school year off to a good start. As indicated at the beginning of the year, we have continually monitored community spread of COVID-19, reported illness/absence trends in our buildings, in our zip code areas in which we reside, and our observations of the number of students still attending school and being sent home ill. With this being said, we have noted trends that are now disrupting our main goal to maintain a healthy environment for in-person instruction to be successful.
As of this last Friday, September 17th, it has become very clear that student and staff absences due to illness and quarantines have increased so significantly that managing and maintaining the in-person delivery model is now in jeopardy if we do not adjust our course. Due to Covid exposure, we had to cancel our Varsity football game last Friday, as well as cancel soccer games Thursday and Saturday. We are averaging between 10-12% absentee rate and that does not even include the students who are working from home due to a quarantine requirement. We also have had several staff members forced to isolate or quarantine. At this pace, if we do not make some changes, we stand to lose far more in-person instruction in the next month and beyond by virtue of our inability to logistically operate our transportation, buildings, and classrooms.
Many are in favor of masks for staff and students and many are not. No one wants to wear masks; however, if an infected student or staff member happens to be in school, people who had masks on are not required to quarantine in the majority of the cases. Wearing masks indoors during the day would help keep students in school and staff here to teach them.
Therefore, we need to introduce (regardless of vaccination), an additional mitigation measure that requires masks to be worn by all staff and students during the school day, in an attempt to reduce the rapidly increasing number of illnesses and resulting absences. We will require that all visitors wear masks as well, but only if visiting for over 15 minutes and/or if under 6 feet from a student or staff member. This requirement includes indoor activities and sports, but does not include outdoor activities or sports. Additional details will be shared by the Athletic Office in the coming days. This mask mitigation measure, like others, will be removed when we see sustained reductions in illness, indicating decreased transmission.
Although we are beginning this requirement on Wednesday, September 22nd, we understand the need for an acclimation period, especially for younger students -- so we plan to work to assist our students with this transition this week, rather than any consequences for noncompliance. We have plenty of masks on hand, on buses and in buildings, so there is no immediate need for you to purchase them if you no longer have a personal supply for your child. Due to the fact that the local health department will not quarantine students or staff wearing masks and/or social distancing beyond 6 feet, we will see an immediate and substantial reduction in quarantines. Lunch is the only area where quarantines can be ordered, because 6ft distance cannot be maintained. We will work to creatively and safely reduce the time periods without masks that trigger quarantines, and offer as many mask breaks opportunities as possible when above 6 feet/under 15 minutes if a student elects to participate.
We realize each family has unique concerns, circumstances, research, and opinions related to the pandemic and mitigation measures -- all are valued and respected. In the end, regardless of these particular differences, the common theme still is; Do everything we can to maintain a healthy school environment that keeps our kids attending school and participating in activities. This is our major objective throughout this whole school year.
Finally, although masks will be available all week as we make this transition, your child has the option to wear a disposable mask, a cloth mask, a shield, or a neck gaiter. The same qualifying mask exemptions apply and can be requested by completing and submitting a request to your building principal or nurse via email, fax, or in person before the end of the week.
We look forward to working together as we navigate the remainder of this school year and beyond, and will continually adjust and remove mitigation measures as conditions permit. Please feel free to reach out to your child's teacher, building principal, nurse, or counselor for any questions or needs.
Dr. William R. Nye Jr.
Superintendent, Grand Valley Local Schools
111 Grand Valley Ave. West Suite A
Orwell Ohio, 44076
Phone: (440) 805-4545 Ext. 4, Option 1
Fax: (440) 437-1025
"Every Student Matters. Every Moment Counts. The Future Begins Now."
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