North Santiam School District
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January 7, 2022
Dear NSSD Families & Staff,
As the new year starts, we hope everyone was able to rest and enjoy the Holiday Break. As we return to school, we are again challenged by a new COVID variant with different characteristics.
The District continues to place a high priority on conducting in-person school, even through this latest surge. The greatest threat to this is a shortage of staff due to illness. It is possible that staffing and substitute levels will become inadequate to conduct instruction and the District will need to pause in-person learning for a short time. We believe this need would likely be a short-term necessity only, because as soon as we would have enough staff to run school, we would reopen. We are, therefore, reluctant to take the time and effort to make a huge shift to CDL for what may be only a few days of instruction. Should staff shortages extend longer, we will first consider adding days to the school year to avoid falling below the number of instructional hours required by ODE instead of shifting to CDL long-term.
Whenever possible, decisions to close will be made on an individual school or classroom basis. Our intent to stay in school until it becomes impossible means we may not be able to give several days’ notice to parents, should staffing shortages overwhelm us. We ask that families be prepared. Finally, we encourage anyone who wishes to help our schools stay open to inquire about being a substitute within the District. To do so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving on to high school sports, along with most districts in the state, the NSSD is continuing to monitor and evaluate what further safety measures to put in place to protect athletes and spectators. The Oregon Health Authority has recommended a pause in athletic competitions. We do not intend to do this unless other district closures make it impossible to compete. Some districts are now requiring all athletes to be masked while competing. We are not considering this option. We may, however, consider limiting the number of spectators allowed inside gyms if it means our athletes can continuing competing. We recognize how important athletics are to our students and families, and the District will take necessary measures to preserve those contests.
In order for us to avoid cancelling or postponing athletic events we need everyone that attends to take masking very seriously. In addition, please consider having your child vaccinated and make sure they stay home from school and athletic practices if they are exhibiting any symptoms of being ill.
While we may have some challenges in the short term with staffing, the situation also gives reason for optimism. Research on the Omicron variant suggests it is much less likely to result in severe illness. The virus emerged in South Africa, and they have seen a sharp decline in cases shortly after their initial rapid surge. This gives us hope the difficulties that are before us are of a shorter duration, and we will overcome them in less time. Our efforts will focus on going as long as we can in-person, and to quickly return from any disruption that Omicron may cause. Thanks for your continued help as well as your patience as we continue to serve our kids.
Quarantine Timelines Shift from 10 To 5 Days
The District is now implementing the new 5-day quarantine authorized by the ODE and the OHA which replaces the previous 10-day quarantine for un-vaccinated individuals. Quarantine protocols have been modified to include those not "up to date" on their COVID vaccine. Guidance regarding what is considered "up to date" is still being finalized by the health authorities but it is strongly advised that students and staff get their booster shot if it has been more than six months since their 2nd vaccine dose. We will continue to share the guidance as it is released.
The Test to Stay program is still operating and if a student is eligible to participate, they will be notified how to be tested, should they desire to.
The NSSD COVID Dashboard will return next week.
Upcoming Dates to Remember
Jan. 17, 2022 - NO SCHOOL, Martin Luther King Jr Day
Jan 28, 2022 - NO SCHOOL, Grading Day - Term 1
Feb. 4, 2022 - NO SCHOOL - Teacher Professional Development Day
Feb. 12, 2022 - Stayton Boosters Auction
Feb. 21 - NO SCHOOL -Presidents Day
March 21-25 - NO SCHOOL - Spring Break