Miscellaneous » 2020 - 2021 School Year » 2020-21 School Year Information

2020-21 School Year Information

Aug. 11, 2020


Owasso Parents,


Owasso Public Schools is committed to meeting the technology needs of its students. In this message you will find a link to a “Get Connected” form, which we are using to gather information from families who are in need of devices or internet connectivity to complete assignments during Pivot to Home.


Students are welcome to use their personal computer, laptop, iPad, etc., for Pivot to Home. If your child has a device and access to the internet at home, there is nothing further that you need to do.


Please fill out this form if your student is in need of a device or internet connectivity to access lessons and complete assignments. Only those families who are participating in Pivot to Home and are in need of a device or devices need to fill out this form. 


Families who opted for Virtual Learning have already indicated their technology needs to the district and do not need to fill out this form.


The deadline to complete this form is 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14.


Get Connected Form


Once you have completed the “Get Connected” form, you will receive a confirmation email. Devices will be distributed Aug. 19-21 and your school sites will communicate those processes and procedures to you.


If you have any questions about these processes, please contact your child’s school.


Thank you.

 
 
 
 
Aug. 4, 2020
 
Owasso Parents,
 
The first day of school for the 2020-21 academic year has been moved from Thursday, August 13 to Monday, August 24. Instruction for all grade levels will occur through our “Pivot to Home” plan and students will not be in the classroom with their teachers during this time.
 
This difficult decision was made after evaluating guidance and data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Since we first communicated with you about return to school procedures back on July 14, our county has continued to show weekly increases in cases of COVID-19 and our local health leaders have urged us to consider learning options other than the traditional classroom setting.
 
This decision comes with the goal of protecting our students, staff and community, while also providing the best educational experience possible.
 
What is “Pivot to Home”?
In the spring of 2020, classes were abruptly halted due to COVID-19 and our team worked quickly to enact distance learning to close the school year. For the 2020-21 school year, “Pivot to Home” instruction will look much different from last spring’s distance learning. Assignments will be delivered by your student’s individual teachers - just like in the classroom. Grades can increase or decrease based on student’s academic progress - just like in the classroom. Teachers will be in their classrooms and will deliver instruction to students via Google Classroom. While the physical location is different, our teachers and district are committed to consistently moving forward with teaching and learning.
 
What are the Next Steps?
Over the next several days, families who previously chose virtual learning with Acellus or Edgenuity will have the opportunity to opt out of that method for instruction. Families who choose to opt out of Acellus or Edgenuity would then receive instruction from their individual teachers through “Pivot to Home.” If you choose for your student to remain in virtual learning with Acellus or Edgenuity, you are committing to that choice for at least the first nine weeks. Parents will be able to review this option for each nine week period.
 
 
We know that there are many questions to be answered about all aspects of the upcoming school year. You will receive more information and details in the coming days. Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate this time together.

Please continue to check your email, our website, and social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter) for the latest updates.
 
 
 

July 24, 2020
Versión en español

Dear Owasso Parents and Staff,

With so much information swirling around all of us as we move closer to the first day of school, my hope is that this letter provides you with some clarity.  

The FAQs that were published earlier in July have been updated to reflect information in this letter. 

Each campus will send more specific information to families before school begins. The elementary schools will be consistent among buildings. The 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Centers also will be consistent among buildings, while our high school processes will be consistent across grade levels 9-12. 

Each morning, our team tracks the data related to COVID. Over the last two weeks, our concerns have increased as we have not seen the change in the data we hoped to see as we move toward the start of school. Therefore, we made the determination to wait for the state health department guidelines, which we received on Wednesday, and the action of the State Board of Education yesterday. Our rationale was that we did not want to change our guidance only for it to conflict with the leadership of either of those agencies. Now that there is resolution regarding guidance, we knew we had to make decisions so that students could be in our school buildings.

The information below is supported by those guidelines and will be in place until further notice. Should the framework for the start of school outlined below change in any way, you as our families and employees will be notified.

Learning at School
It is the desire of Owasso Public Schools to have school in session (in our physical buildings) until it is unrealistic for that to occur. In order for this to occur, our staff along with parents and students will have to display a level of flexibility that has likely not occurred previously for any of us. The number of parents and visitors may be limited and all visitors will be required to wear a mask/face covering.

Learning Options
Owasso Public Schools will offer learning in our school buildings - the method most members of our community know as traditional school.

Owasso Public Schools will offer virtual learning for students as an option for families. For elementary students (K-5), the curriculum for full-time virtual learning will be Acellus. Secondary students (6-12) will use a content management system called Edgenuity. All curriculum for both elementary and secondary students is aligned with the Oklahoma Academic Standards. For more information on these offerings, please visit our Virtual Learning page. 

Originally, it was stated that parents would be required to choose a curriculum for their children for the entire semester. Because all of these processes are new to families, the decision has been made to allow families to review their decisions each nine weeks and make one change per semester. For example, if a family chooses full-time virtual learning to start the year, the family could move to face-to-face learning at the 9-week mark or at the start of the second semester. This will allow the district to plan well for class sizes, staffing, and educational services for students.

“Pivot to Home” is the phrase we will use if school cannot be conducted in the physical buildings in our district. Instruction during “Pivot to Home” will be delivered by your child’s classroom teacher using Google Classroom. Should that occur we will notify parents immediately as we know that this places an incredible hardship on your family, who counts on our schools for both education and care during the day while you conduct the business of your family. Please be considering how you would provide care during the school day, should we have to “Pivot to Home.” We have one “Pivot to Home” day scheduled for September 4th. 

Masks / Face Coverings
Earlier correspondence shared that masks would be recommended and appreciated. Due to the increased cases of COVID-19 in our county, as well as recommendations from our local and state health agencies and the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Owasso Public Schools will:

  • Require each of our employees who are in school buildings with students to wear a mask or face covering during the school day.
  • Require each student in grades 4 through 12 to wear a mask each day.
  • Require each student in grades 4 through 12 to wear a mask on school buses.

Students in Pre-K through 3rd grade will be able to wear a mask, should they choose. The district will provide a mask to all staff and students, however, staff and students can use their own mask/face covering if that is their preference.

We understand that there will be both adults and students who have documented medical needs and that those needs may affect their ability to wear a mask/face covering. We also know that for our younger students and our students with special needs there may be challenges with wearing a mask. Our goal is to work respectfully and graciously with families to resolve these challenges.

Exceptions to the expectations above for students and staff must be documented by a physician or medical professional and that documentation will be treated as confidential and retained in the office of the principal.

Should a student or staff member have concerns about another person not having a mask/face covering, we respectfully request that those issues be addressed with the principal in a confidential manner to respect all people involved.  

No student or adult will be shunned or criticized for any extent of health protocols they take to make themselves feel comfortable and safe. Demonstrating respect is a core value of our district. 

Notification of Possible COVID-19 Contact
Yesterday, our notification protocols were reviewed by the Tulsa County Health Department along with our employee processes and our “return to work” guidelines for employees. These guidelines include the most current health information. These guidelines are stringent, yet appropriate. 

Parents, we recommend you have a plan for care for your students should they not be able to attend physical school. It is possible that an individual student or class of students might be notified that someone in their class tested positive for COVID-19. If that occurred, a class of students could be asked to be quarantined at home for 14 days even though they are not experiencing symptoms. Our district will provide educational support for those students, should that occur.

Parents and the Fall of 2020
Parents, I am aware this letter displays a shift in thinking from previous correspondence regarding face coverings/masks. Deep consideration was given before we made this change.  Ultimately, it came down to the current situation in our area related to COVID-19 and the determination that it was wiser to err on the side of caution to protect the safety of our students and staff. Also, we have a deep desire for school to be in session in our school buildings, as that moves us steps closer to a normal learning environment for our students. I hope all of these measures are short term and I thank you for supporting our efforts.

Several traditional back to school items will be modified such as registration, Elementary Meet the Teacher, and Secondary Schedule Pickup. We know that students meeting their teacher, students walking through the school building to familiarize themselves with the physical building, families demonstrating an excitement for the start of school, etc. are all part of the amazing energy that surrounds a new school year. However, we will not have events where large groups of students, families, or staff will gather. Our principals returned to work on Monday and they are already knee-deep in finding ways to make your students feel welcome, comfortable, and excited about a new year.  

Thank you to those of you who shared suggestions and solutions through email. Your words were powerful and are a strong part of the work we are doing. We will continue to work together toward the best possible backdrop for educating our community’s students together.

Parents, we are grateful for your support in helping us re-engage students in learning as we start a new year. We know that there is a wide array of opinions on topics related to COVID-19 and the protocols around it. What I know we all agree on - beyond a shadow of a doubt - is that everyone loves our students and we want them to be well educated. 

With respect,


Amy Fichtner
Superintendent

 

Dear Owasso Parents and Owasso Staff,

On Tuesday, July 14, we shared a message with our staff and our parents providing information about the return of school.
 
Since that distribution, I have had the opportunity to hear from parents, teachers, staff and high school students. That feedback has been tremendously helpful. No two parents, no two staff members, and no two students have the exact life experience, so hearing from an array of people has been valuable.

There are several tremendous challenges that we are all facing right now.

First, this is a time of worry, disruption, and situations of uncertainty. Those feelings may be about school, but they are also feelings about life in general. We all are seeking answers with details to provide security. The ever-changing situation does not lend itself to those types of predictable, concrete answers right now.

Second, we have not been in school since March 13th. Together, we experienced an abrupt, mandatory statewide school closure after spring break. While some parents and staff thought the stoppage was ridiculous and others thought it was wise, it at least was a known quantity. School was shut down. School activities were stopped. We quietly rode into the end of the year.

In June, the state began to reopen its activities and people were able to make the decisions that worked best for them. Families and our staff members have been making decisions for themselves in response to COVID-19 throughout the summer. Some have traveled. Some have not. Some have used masks. Some have not. Some believe we can return to school. Some do not.

Now, we are facing a return to learn for the 2020-21 school year. We have 70+ pages of information from a State Department of Education staff that has been working tirelessly since March to provide schools with guidance. We have health department leaders who have been available to our district 24/7 to provide the best guidance for each of our questions.

As we approach the first day of school, the questions continue. How do we open safely? What does ‘safe’ look like? What do we do to protect the health of teachers and staff? What can we do to help children learn in this environment and minimize distractions from the health precautions we use?

Even since we crafted the information for parents, there has been an increase in the number of cases of COVID. Our largest sister city has made masks mandatory for all people over the age of 18. You, our staff and parents, see these conditions.

Last Thursday, area school leaders met with the leaders within the Tulsa County Health Department that are trying to eliminate COVID-19. We requested these health leaders meet with us as all area schools are struggling with the same items. We asked the hard questions. They provided guidance. Everyone on the call - health department and educational leaders - acknowledged that some guidelines are more feasible than others to implement within a school setting.

What is the culture as we try to start school? We've all heard the discussions and debates on this issue every day - on the news, on social media, and in person. We are seeing and hearing people speak cruelly to each other - saying things that on a normal day simply wouldn’t be said. I live every day of my life choosing to assume the best of those with whom I interact - even when hateful speech and comments are taking place. I choose to assume it is fear and worry talking and that the majority of people really don’t want to conduct themselves in anger and bitterness.

Here is our predicament. We absolutely see the education of our children as essential. Owasso values the education of its children and always has. The challenge right now is that we are experiencing a pandemic rooted in COVID-19 and we are all desperately seeking a way to build a bridge between where we are and “normal” so our children can attend school. The reality is that we are not in a situation that is normal and, therefore, starting school in a normal way will be difficult if it can even occur at all.

Since the back to school information was shared, we have seen our community debate masks or no masks. As I have read the words written to me by parents, staff, and students there is certainly a focus on masks. However, the undercurrent is deeper. It is a plea for families, teachers, staff and students to be safe. That plea is valid as there is nothing more significant in the world than the safety of the people in our community. I am well aware that some have indicated that by using the words “masks are encouraged” rather than “masks are required” that it was translated as that I, along with the staff in our district and members of our School Board, don’t care about the safety of our children and educators. That is inaccurate, but time is better spent working towards a solution than quibbling over semantics.

Parents, we understand you have to know what will occur for the start of school in order to plan for your families. We know school brings a frame to your families’ lives that allows you to work or conduct your business while school is in session. We are diligently trying to use the most current information and recommendations to make the best decisions. In an ordinary year, you know the details of the next school year when you say goodbye to teachers in May. This is not an ordinary year. How I wish it was. With each email I read this past week, I heard the heartbeat of parents who desperately want to return their children to the great schools of Owasso, but they want reassurance that returning to the physical school buildings can be done safely.

Today (Monday, July 20th), our district was scheduled to share with parents the forms for on-line learning. Owasso Public Schools will absolutely have an online (virtual) learning option for students for the 2020-21 school year. We will delay publishing those forms on our website until the end of this week so a few items can occur.

We are continuing to evaluate and seek guidance from the Tulsa County Health Department and the Oklahoma State Department of Education regarding aspects of our plans to return to school buildings.

This morning, I met with our principals. This is the first day that our principals return to work for the 2020-21 school year. We spent the morning discussing the details and challenges related to returning to a physical learning environment. We had frank conversations and examined the current reality of COVID-19 as it relates to our schools. I trust their wisdom and their honesty.

This afternoon, district leaders and I will meet with our teachers’ association leadership. These teachers meet regularly throughout the school year with our district leaders. I know they will speak from their hearts as we seek methods to educate our students and keep them safe in a way that is also safe and healthy for teachers. We will seek their valuable perspective on the same topics that will be discussed with principals.

After discussions this week, I will be communicating with our Board of Education as to how our administration recommends proceeding. The Board members are passionate about our students’ safety, their education, and this community. They are parents and grandparents, too. I ask for your continued patience as we continue to have these challenging discussions on behalf of our students and staff.

With respect,

Amy Fichtner
Superintendent
 
 
 
Dear Owasso Parents,

As you read this letter, please accept my gratitude for your patience and partnership. It is truly hard to fathom all of the changes that have occurred since Spring Break. If I were a parent of young people right now, I would have many questions and be eager for information. We have tried to wait to communicate with you as long as possible so that you would have the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Parents, each element of the information you are receiving today is sent with the understanding that information related to COVID-19 continues to evolve. The information in this letter and the FAQs is subject to change as conditions warrant. We commit to keep you updated.

Along with this message, we are providing a set of FAQs for you as you prepare for the new school year. As you read both, please know that we have two major goals:

First, all of our decision-making comes with the goal of protecting the health and safety of our students, staff, and community. Second, it is our goal to keep school in session for the 2020-21 school year if at all possible.
 
Safety and health will always be the first priority. To keep school in session, we are aware that modifications in our protocols will have to occur and the FAQs provide those details.

This summer, there was an analogy provided to us that has been very useful. I was taught that various layers of safety protocols are like slices of Swiss cheese. One slice has holes in it, but if you stack several slices on top of each other eventually you can cover almost all the holes. Hand washing is one layer of protection. Distancing is another layer. Face coverings are another layer. Intense cleaning is another layer. Staying home when ill is another layer. Owasso Public Schools will utilize as many layers of protection as possible for the safety of your children and the district’s staff knowing that one layer is not a solution by itself.

As your children’s superintendent, I am asking for your help with two items.

  • The most important help you can provide is related to your child’s health. Parents, there is a daily health checklist we are asking you to review every morning. Please do not send your child to school unless they meet the district guidelines provided. We provided the checklist in our FAQs and we will provide it in several other formats as we get closer to the start of school. 
  • Please take time to read the information we provide through SchoolMessenger, our website, and from your schools. We want to be good communicators with your family and provide the information families need.

Thank you for making both of these items a priority for the upcoming school year.

When you look at the FAQs, you will notice one change for the school year. Friday, September 4th, will be a “Pivot to Home” day. This will be a day when students will learn from home and teachers will teach from home. We acknowledge that this day may be inconvenient for family schedules but our hope is that with advance notice, families can accommodate this single day of online learning. Our desire is that this is the only “Pivot to Home” day needed for the entire year. However, we would rather be well-prepared and not need this than to have a substantial disruption in the school year and be ill-prepared. This “Pivot to Home” day on September 4th will be the equivalent of a day of learning in the classroom and will not result in added days to the school calendar. Thank you for your grace in accommodating this day in your family’s schedules.

As we move through July and into August, you can be certain we will communicate any additional information with you. We are respectful that there is a tremendous amount of information circulating, and we want you to have the necessary resources from within our district.
 
Thank you for choosing our district for your children’s education and we’re honored to partner with you. Parents, please take care of yourselves and we hope you’ll have some sweet summer memories with your family.

Respectfully,

Amy Fichtner
Superintendent