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Superintendent Smith Update Jan 25, 2021

January 25, 2021

Newport School District Families,

In my last communication on December 15th, I notified you of our intention to return to school in January with all students on a hybrid schedule. We planned this with the hopes of phasing-in to a schedule that would allow our K-8 students access to on-site instruction four days a week beginning February 1.  I am pleased to inform you that because the COVID cases in our community are steadily decreasing, our strategies to mitigate spread within our schools have been very effective, and because we have enough space in both Stratton Elementary and Sadie Halstead Middle School to facilitate physical distancing, we will bring K-8 students back four days a week beginning Monday, February 1.  Unfortunately, for our high school students, we do not have ample space to facilitate instruction safely within the guidelines of physical distancing which means we are not in a position to bring 9-12 students back four days a week at this time.

While we are increasing the number of students and the number of days that students are attending, I want to reiterate that we are confident that we can greatly minimize the spread of COVID within our schools. However, we can never guarantee that we will not have virus transmission. We do anticipate that we will have close contacts and that we will have to isolate a number of students over the coming months. We will continue to keep our students on site, however, if we do need to isolate a class or a grade level, we will do so in order to contain transmission but not disrupt districtwide, on-site learning. If you are not comfortable having your son or daughter engage in on-site learning, we do have remote options for you.   

As mentioned above, we have implemented a number of strategies to limit the spread of the virus within our classrooms and schools.  In addition, as parents, you play a large role in keeping students safe by keeping your son or daughter at home if they are symptomatic.  Keeping the virus out of our schools is the number one strategy for keeping all students safe and in school.  In the event that we do have a student who becomes symptomatic at school, our nurses are fully trained and we now have, with parent consent, the ability to administer a rapid test on site.  If your son or daughter becomes symptomatic at school, you will be notified, however, when you arrive at school to pick up your child, you will be given the opportunity to have your son or daughter tested.  The option of  receiving this test will not be discussed with the student, only the parent.  If you give consent, it will take 15 minutes for the result of the test to show.  If the test is positive, we are assuming your son or daughter has COVID.  If the result is negative, you will need to work with your physician to conduct a PCR test which has a higher rate of reliability. 

Please read the information below carefully, as it outlines how we will conduct the phasing-in of our K-8th grade students to four days a week.  In addition to this communication, Stratton Elementary and Sadie Halstead Middle School will be sending out written communication with more specific information as to how we will safely transition your son or daughter into this next phase of on-site instruction. 


K - 12 Phasing-In Plan:  February 1, 2021

Kindergarten - 8th Grade Students:

Beginning Monday, February 1, all students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will be scheduled to attend school on site four days per week, every Monday-Thursday.  K-8th grade students will no longer be following the A and B hybrid schedule.  Students will still be learning at home on Fridays.  This will allow teachers to connect with families, continue to update Canvas and work with any students who may have to quarantine or isolate because of the pandemic.  

*Preschool will maintain the current schedule:  Monday-Thursday, morning session = 7:45am-10:45am/ afternoon session = 11:45am-2:45pm

9th - 12th Grade Students:

It has been great having students back at Newport High School! Having students return to classrooms has revitalized our work.  As mentioned above, NHS students will continue to follow an “A” and “B” hybrid schedule. We feel that this has been the safest model for our students to learn and it is the best option at this time, given the usable learning space in our building. Thank you to each of our families for keeping your children home when they are ill. To date, we have not had to utilize our health room for students being sick while at school. Student attendance is increasing, and most importantly, our kids and staff remain in good health.

Finally, we miss seeing our families and value your input regarding your child’s education here at NHS. If you have any questions, would like to meet with your student’s teacher or our principal, Jamie Pancho, please contact our high school office at 447-2481. On behalf of everyone here at NHS, we appreciate the support you’ve given us, and the confidence you have in us to educate your children. Thank you for being part of the Griz Family!

GRIZZLY REMOTE STUDENTS:

  • Students enrolled in the Grizzly Remote Connect program will continue to work remotely.

 Phasing-in Procedures and Protocols

Safety Procedures:

  • We will continue to utilize the same procedures that were implemented in October:  health screening at entries or attestation tickets signed by parents, physical distancing of six feet, and face coverings/masks required to be worn indoors.  

Transportation:

  • Please remember that all students are required to wear a mask on the bus and that all students will be assigned a seat in order to track close contacts in the instance we have a student test positive for COVID.  We recently facilitated a parent survey to better understand the needs of our students and if student pickup times are altered as a result of that survey, we will notify you well in advance of that change. Please contact Durham Transportation with any questions or clarifications you may have about route times and locations: (509) 447-0505. 

Meals:

  • With K-8 students returning to a four day school week, we will continue offering both breakfast and lunch for students while in school. Additionally, on Thursdays we will offer a one day take home meal for students that would like to participate. Reminder:  meals are offered free of charge to all students for the 20/21 school year.
  •  High school students will continue on their A and B hybrid schedule with both breakfast and lunch being offered each school day. Students will still have the option of taking home additional meals for the days they are not on site. Group A will have meals available on Tuesday and Group B will take home additional meals on Thursday (please make sure your children know to bring these home).
  • For our distance learners or ANY child, ages 1-18, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the Newport School District, we will continue offering FREE weekly meal packs until the end of the school year. Meal pickups are every Tuesday from 11:15 am - 12 pm in front of Stratton Elementary. PLEASE NOTE:  MEALS MUST BE PRE-ORDERED. Go to: https://www.newportgriz.com/Page/1505  (newportgriz.com -  Departments - Nutrition - “Meal Sign Up Form”) for additional information and ordering. You can also call Sheila Myrvang, Nutrition Services Director, at 509-447-3167 ext. 4521. Remember, all children on site and off, 1-18 years of age, receive free breakfast and lunch through June, 2021.

This phasing-in plan will begin on February 1, 2021. Building principals will be sending out additional information to our Kindergarten through 8th grade parents. We are committed to keeping our students safely on site and again want to thank all of you for your continued support and flexibility as we will continue to have minor bumps in the road as we bring more students back to on-site instruction.

If you have any questions, as always, please do not hesitate to contact the Newport School District.  

 

Respectfully,

Dave Smith

Newport School District Superintendent