2020-21 School Year Information

November 15, 2020
 
Owasso Families,
 
I’m writing today to provide an overview of our current status as a district related to COVID and share information, as of today, for our plans for the remainder of the fall semester.
 
As you are aware, in Oklahoma there has been a steady increase of cases of COVID. While all of the cases are assigned to a particular community or zip code, not all cases affect our schools. Some families have not been physically affected by COVID and others have been deeply affected. Our hearts are heavy for those families who have dealt with substantial challenges related to COVID and other illnesses over the last eight months.
 
Our school district has experienced the effects of this increase in COVID cases in several ways:
  • Most, but not all, of the reported cases of COVID have been reported as exposures that occurred outside of our school district. With the faithful reporting of these cases by staff and parents, we responded with any necessary contact tracing to help mitigate the spread of COVID in our district.
  • We believe our diligent contact tracing efforts have proven effective, but have also resulted in a large number of students being quarantined as required by the Tulsa County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health. Some students are even experiencing more than one quarantine.
  • Our students in 9th through 12th grades have experienced the greatest level of absenteeism related to COVID. These students are more mobile - some having jobs outside the home, interacting with peers at an increased level, attending activities at a greater level than our younger students, etc.
  • Contact tracing among our staff has led to teachers being quarantined, which has increased our need for substitutes. When there are not ample substitutes to cover classes, our teachers share that responsibility by teaching during their planning period. It is not our desire as a district for this to occur, but this has been a necessity and has increased in the last few weeks. Even with the practice of teachers and support staff covering other classes, a shortage of staffing still remains.
 
In response to these circumstances, beginning on Wednesday, November 18th, our students in 9th through 12th grades will “Pivot to Home” for the remainder of the semester (Nov. 18-Dec. 18). This action will allow for continuity of instruction for our high school students and more focused delivery of instruction by our teachers.
 
During this “Pivot to Home” for 9th through 12th grade students from November 18-December 18, the following will occur:
  • 9th through 12th grade students will receive live instruction from their classroom teachers through Google Classroom.
    High school teachers will be on our campuses daily in their classrooms.
  • 9th through 12th grade students receiving special education services will do so as they did during “Pivot to Home” in August and early September.
  • Students will only be on the high school campus when under the supervision of a staff member.
    9th through 12th grade students will be able to receive school lunches. Our child nutrition program leaders will share specific details with parents.
  • If students in 9th through 12th grades do not have internet access, the high school will assist them to meet that need for connectivity.
  • If students in 9th through 12th grades need academic assistance that can’t be provided through a phone call, email or Google Classroom, a teacher and student can make arrangements for the student to come to the classroom for that assistance.
  • If teachers see a need for academic assistance that can’t be provided through a phone call, email or Google Classroom, individual teachers will reach out to parents to make arrangements for the student to come to the classroom for that assistance.
  • Activities will continue for grades 9th through 12th grade to the extent possible. Many activities have been modified and are using a virtual format. Individual sponsors, coaches, and directors will continue to advise students regarding schedules for activities.
 
Using our current COVID data and campus information, it is our intent for our students in grades Pre-K through 8th grade to be educated for the remainder of the semester in-person at their schools unless their families have previously chosen virtual learning.
 
Families, to help keep our students in Pre-K through 8th grade learning in our buildings and to support the health of all our students and staff, we need your help with the following items:
  • Please take a moment to share with your students how much their cooperation with our face covering requirement is appreciated. Health officials continue to stress the importance of face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID.
  • Parents, please review the COVID guidelines for families and please make sure no child comes to school exhibiting COVID symptoms.
  • Please continue to report positive cases of COVID to your child’s school so that the appropriate steps can be taken to protect the health of everyone.
  • If you have questions about COVID protocols, please contact your child’s school.
  • We would appreciate each family to review the district’s reference sheet.
  • Please honor the quarantines that are assigned following diligent contact tracing. These quarantines are not just a “quarantine from school” as some believe. Instead, when a staff member or a student is notified that they must quarantine, this applies to all aspects of the individual’s day and is designed to protect all members of the school and community. These practices are aligned with those used by the Tulsa County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health.

It is always our desire to provide face-to-face instruction for our students. We are working diligently to evaluate trends that occurred this fall in the hopes of avoiding any students pivoting to home in the spring semester. However, as I have stated since this summer, we can not guarantee the course of our district in the future when these decisions are dependent upon COVID’s path.
 
Thank you for your incredible patience and partnership with Owasso Public Schools as we continue to work together to meet the academic needs of our students.
 
We all seek the day when COVID is not part of our conversations, but until that day, we will continue working to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our schools, students, and staff.

Respectfully,
Amy Fichtner
Superintendent
 
 
September 4, 2020

Owasso Parents,

I want to start this letter with gratitude and appreciation for you and all of our OPS teachers. Through this time of Pivot to Home, I believe that the partnership between parents and their child’s educators has grown stronger than ever before. Our teachers have worked very hard to make the transition from the physical classroom to a Google Classroom as seamless as possible, and we are experiencing the fruits of that labor with the student/parent engagement through Pivot to Home. Thank you again for that partnership, which we hope will only continue to grow stronger as your child progresses through our schools. 
 
We have said in the past, and we continue to believe, that the best learning experience for a child occurs in a physical classroom. Pivot to Home is something that we are able to utilize on short notice, if needed, to continue to educate our students while also keeping students and staff as safe as possible during this season of COVID-19.
 
In late July and early August, a spike in new COVID-19 cases occurred, which drove our decision to begin school in the Pivot to Home / Virtual Learning mode rather than bringing students back into our physical classrooms. Our team of district leaders has continued to study data and trends related to COVID-19 since that time. We have been pleased to watch each week as the trend of new cases in Tulsa County decreased and stabilized following that late July/early August spike.
 
The August 4th communication that notified you of our plans to start the year in Pivot to Home also stated that we would not return to the physical classroom until we saw at least two consecutive weeks for Tulsa County with a Yellow or Green designation. As we continue to monitor trends on a daily basis, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Yellow or Green tier may not occur for an extended period of time and that initial guideline we provided may now be unrealistic. 
 
I wish there were magic numbers that I could give to you to say that when we hit a certain mark, we are absolutely in school and another mark that would say we are absolutely out of school. This time of COVID-19 has not afforded us those clear-cut answers that leaders in business, education and everything in between are searching for. 
 
What I can tell you is that we have reached a point in the data and trends for Tulsa County and the Owasso community that is similar to where we were in mid-July, when our intention was that we would convene in our physical classrooms. Therefore, I want to inform you of our decision to reopen our physical school buildings to students beginning on Thursday, September 17. We will utilize the processes and procedures that were constructed this summer and you can find our Reference Sheet for Families here with more information. Masks will be required for all grades both on a school bus and in the school building. Students in Pre-K through 2nd grade should expect to take more frequent mask breaks, due to their ages, than those students in 3rd through 12th grades.
 
As we did when we made the initial move to Pivot to Home, this decision comes as a result of significant study of COVID-19 data and trends in our area, along with guidance and collaboration with school leaders, health agencies and our Board of Education.
 
While we are excited to have students return to our classrooms, it is important to note that Pivot to Home could still be utilized during this school year for an individual class, a grade level at a certain building, an entire building or even the district as a whole, if necessary. We will do all that we can to give parents ample time to make adjustments to their child care and routine, however it is imperative that you have a backup plan ready in the event that we must Pivot to Home again.
 
As we mentioned on August 4, parents will have the option to choose which mode of instruction they want for their students at the quarter breaks in the school year or at the time when we move back to the physical classroom. Please read this information carefully and adhere to the deadlines listed if you wish to change the method of instruction for your students.
 
If your child is currently receiving instruction through Pivot to Home and:
  1. You would like your student to return to the physical classroom on September 17, there is nothing further that you need to do. Your child will report to school on September 17 with the schedule that has already been provided by your child’s school. Should your child’s schedule be altered while we balance classrooms as a result of students moving from Acellus or Edgenuity to the physical classroom, you will be notified.
  2. You would like your student to be enrolled in Acellus or Edgenuity rather than report to your child’s physical school, please fill out the respective form below by 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9. You will receive communication from the virtual learning administrators with important information including class schedule, log in information, etc., in the days following September 9.

If your child is currently receiving instruction through Acellus (elementary) or Edgenuity (secondary) and:
  1. You would like your student to remain receiving instruction through Acellus or Edgenuity, there is nothing further that you need to do. Your student will continue to progress through the curriculum as they have been since August 24.
  2. You would like for your student to return to the physical classroom, please fill out the respective form below by 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9. You will be contacted by your school in the days following September 9 with your child’s class schedule and your child will report to school on Thursday, September 17.

Your child’s school will follow up in the coming week with information specific to that school site. Please reach out to your child’s school should you have any questions regarding this transition period.
 
Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding. No matter the method of instruction, we will continue to work together toward the best possible backdrop for educating our community’s students together.

Respectfully,
 
Amy Fichtner
Superintendent
 
 
 
 
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.