SSD Ritenour Dispatch

January 2022

BOARD APPROVES UPDATED RETURN TO LEARNING PLAN TO BEGIN JAN. 18, 2022

Dear Ritenour Staff and Families,


The Ritenour School District Board of Education approved an updated Return to Learning Plan at its meeting last night (Dec. 9, 2021). The plan includes a transition from mandatory indoor masking (our current practice) to recommended indoor masking for all students and staff, as well as new guidelines for student and staff exclusions (formerly known as quarantines).

These changes would go into effect on Jan. 18, 2022, the first day of our second semester. All current COVID-19 safety protocols will remain in place for the remainder of the first semester (through January 14).

Beginning Jan. 18, if the COVID-19 positivity rate in St. Louis County falls below 7%, wearing a mask would move from mandatory to recommended for all Ritenour students and staff members while inside schools and district buildings.

If the positivity rate is above 7% at that time, easing the masking mandate would be delayed until the positivity rate falls below that level in St. Louis County.

After the district makes the transition to recommended masking, all decisions about wearing masks will then be made at the individual school building level in Ritenour. Individual schools will move back to mandatory masking for a period of two weeks if the COVID-19 positivity rate climbs above 1% in that building.

Due to federal law, all students and bus drivers must wear masks or face coverings at all times when riding Ritenour buses.

Also beginning Jan. 18, Ritenour will only exclude (formerly known as quarantine) students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have symptoms after being in direct contact with an individual who has tested positive for the virus. This means that individuals would not automatically be excluded from school or work for being a close contact with a positive case. They would stay in school unless they either test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms after the exposure. The district will no longer be doing contact tracing as of Jan. 18.

You can read the revised plan by clicking here.

Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris Kilbride
Superintendent


RSD AMI DAYS & INCLEMENT WEATHER PLAN FOR THE 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR

As the days grow shorter and the weather becomes colder, we wanted to remind you about what we will do when the weather may change plans to have in-person school.


Ritenour will not be required to make up days when school buildings are closed due to unexpected short-term closures such as inclement weather, illness or utility outages. Instead, the district will implement an Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) Plan on these days that will allow our teachers to provide instruction in a virtual format for all PreK-12 students.

Ritenour has built-in AMI learning days into the school calendar. On an AMI day, all after-school activities would be canceled and the district would not offer before- and after-school care for elementary school students.


If the district uses all AMI distance learning days Ritenour will go back to the old system of calling a snow day and adding the day to the end of the school year.


When there is a short-term closure such as inclement weather, families will receive communication from our district letting you know that all students will learn virtually. Students will connect virtually with their teachers for live, real-time learning during school closures.


Students should take home devices and other school supplies as needed if there is a potential for school closure due to inclement weather. Schools are working with students to identify who may need to borrow a WiFi Hotspot to use on an AMI day. Please see the school schedules on AMI days below:


School & AMI Closure Schedule

Early Childhood

  • 9 - 10 a.m. & 1 - 2 p.m.

Elementary Schools

  • 9 - 11 a.m. & 1 - 3:15 p.m.

Middle Schools

  • 7:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Ritenour High School

  • 8:05 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.


Please note: We will do our best to give families and staff significant advance notice of school closures due to inclement weather.

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SSD Student Scholarship Deadline Approaching!

Many opportunities for scholarships and awards are now open for SSD students!


The Special Education Foundation (SEF) sponsors the John Cary Scholarships for high school seniors, as well. Applications are due Jan. 24, 2022.

For more information, please contact Deana Parsons, SSD internal communications coordinator, at dmparsons@ssdmo.org or 314.989.8102.

What To Do This Summer?

Join us Tuesday, January 18th at 6:00 PM to learn about summer recreation programs available to school-age children with developmental disabilities and funding options to assist in paying for those programs.

The workshop, hosted in collaboration with the Recreation Council of Great St. Louis, will be on zoom.


Presenter: Susan Fleming, Executive Director of the Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis. The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis is a not-for-profit organization which serves as a "clearinghouse" for information on leisure, recreation, and socialization opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in the Greater St. Louis Area. The Council works to ensure that individuals with disabilities are aware of and have access to activities and programs of their "choice."


To register or request the more information about summer programs please contact, the SSD Parent Education and Diversity Awareness program at 314.989.8460 or email ssdpeda@ssdmo.org

PEDA would love your feedback!

Please complete are PEDA Communications survey here: PEDA Survey

Lunch and Learn Series

Special School District’s Family and Community Outreach, Social Work, Parent Education and Diversity Awareness (PEDA) and Communications departments have teamed up to offer a virtual Lunch & Learn series for SSD families and stakeholders. The series, which will involve community organizations sharing information about their work, will take place on the first Wednesday of each month during the 2021-22 school year, from 11:30 AM - Noon.


Representatives from nine community organizations will participate in order to increase awareness about each agency and make connections with those who may benefit from their programs and services throughout the SSD community.


Organizations represented in the Lunch & Learn series include:

Submit Nominations for Staff, Community Awards

Shine a light on someone whose work brilliantly supports the District’s mission! SSD has awards designed for staff in every work area—Key to the Classroom Awards for classroom teachers; Building Block Awards for paraprofessionals; and Lasting Impressions Awards for operations staff.


The District also sponsors the Special Ambassador Awards for community partners and SSD staff. Nominations will be accepted from SSD and partner district staff and students, as well as community members. The deadline for submission is Feb. 7, 2022, but don’t wait to begin thinking about what you’d like to write about your nominee. Great nominations take a bit of thought! Click here to access the nomination forms.





Learn More or Submit a Nomination

Summer Work Experience Program 2022

Summer Work Experience Program, or SWEP is currently accepting applications until February 7, 2021. Through the program, students hold a summer job in their community and receive job-coaching support. They are paid an hourly wage for their work. SWEP is funded by the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County, and is open to county residents with a qualifying disability. It is conducted through a collaboration of six area agencies - MERS/Goodwill is the Lead Agency.


A few important things to remember about eligibility for the SWEP program:

  • You must be a resident of St. Louis County.

  • You must be between 16 and 20 years of age and planning to return to a school program in the Fall of 2022.

  • You cannot participate in SWEP while participating in the Extended School Year Program.

  • Your teacher needs to submit a Teacher Input form before the program begins. Upon receiving your application, we will contact your teacher about this requirement – you do not need to do anything.


A few important things to remember about the SWEP program:

  • You must be available for the entire 8 weeks of the program. Tentative dates for SWEP 2022 are June 6 to July 29. These dates are subject to change.

  • All SWEP participants will need to present appropriate identification – normally, a social security card and photo ID -- at intake. These documents are used to complete the I-9 form and prove identity and eligibility to work in the US.

  • You must have your own transportation to participate in the program. Transportation options to consider: getting rides from family members and friends, using the METRO bus system, using Call-A-Ride, driving yourself, riding a bike, using a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft.

  • Students who participate in the SWEP program will earn the minimum wage of $11.15 an hour.

  • Not everyone who applies to the SWEP program will be able to participate this summer. Students who are eligible and send in completed applications by the deadline will be selected in age-order, with older students taking priority.

  • Students who are selected to participate will be informed via mail that they have been selected. This letter will arrive by mid-March. Students who are not eligible or who are on the wait list will not be contacted.


A few important things to remember about the SWEP 2022 application:

  • Applications received on or by February 7 will be given first priority. All applications received by February 7 will be treated equally. All candidates turning in applications after this date will be put on a waiting list.

  • Please print neatly so that all of the information on your application is legible.

  • Please fill out the application completely and accurately (including the release forms). Any information that is missing or incorrect, including your Social Security number, could delay or prevent the processing of your application.

  • You must sign and return the Participant Application (page 2) and both Authorizations for the Release of Protected Information (pages 3 & 4). These authorizations give the SWEP Lead Agency, MERS/Goodwill, permission to request documentation of your disability from the St. Louis Regional Office, and the Special School District. This is necessary to prove your eligibility for the program. Parent/guardian must sign application and releases if student has not reached the age of 18.

SSD Parent Advisory Council

The SSD Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is comprised of families advising and collaborating to improve the education, confidence and social outcomes of each student served by SSD. The PAC consists of five parents or guardians – one member and four alternates – from each of the 22 St. Louis County school districts and from each of the five SSD special education schools. The parents or guardians of students receiving special education services in that district or school elect SSD PAC members.


Get Involved with the SSD PAC:

  • Network and communicate with other parents of children who receive special education services

  • Become as informed as possible about special education services

  • Improve communication between your local school district and SSD

  • Create a positive understanding and awareness of students with disabilities

  • Establish a network of advocacy for local, state and national disability issues


Complete this online form to learn more about getting involved with the SSD Parent Advisory Council.


Meeting Dates

The SSD Parent Advisory Council has scheduled the following meetings for the 2021-2022 school year. All meetings are held virtually via Zoom, from 7-9 PM. Additional information about meetings, including agendas, can be found on the PAC's website.

  • Feb. 9, 2022
  • March 9, 2022
  • April 13, 2022
  • May 11, 2022 (this meeting will be held virtually and in-person)


Please contact the Superintendent's Office at 314.989.8419 or 314.989.8281 by noon on the Wednesday before the meeting and an American Sign Language interpreter will be provided.

For more information about the SSD PAC or who represents your district, e-mail pac@ssdmo.org.

SSD Parent Leadership Institute - Spring 2022

If you are a parent or family member who makes the educational decisions for a child with a disability, investing the time to attend these four Wednesday evening sessions will provide:


Vision for the future of your child.

Knowledge to help you to effectively participate in your child’s education.

Leadership skills to improve the educational climate for all children.

Access to new resources, friends and experts to help you on your journey.


The Institute will be held on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on February 16, March 2, 9, and 16, at the SSD Central Office, 12110 Clayton Road, 63131. The institute is offered at no cost and dinner is provided.


Learn more about this opportunity or download the application at: Parent Leadership Institute

SSD Spotlight

Mental Health First Aid Training for SSD Families - Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, and others to help adolescents experiencing mental health and/or addictions challenge or crisis. It is designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.


Nationally this course is valued at $170; due to a grant from Missouri's Department of Mental Health and a collaboration with the Ferguson Community Center, you have the opportunity to attend at no cost.


Saturday, March 19th from 9 – 1:30 PM at Ferguson Community Center. 1050 Smith Ave, Ferguson, MO 63135


Space is limited. To register click here. Registration will close on Monday, March 7th or when all seats are filled.

The Family Resource Hub located at North Tech High School is a space dedicated to families and our community stakeholders. The resource hub offers families computer and internet access, a satellite food pantry, and support navigating community resources. The space is also dedicated to supporting families by hosting learning labs, community events, and a safe and supportive environment to learn with and from one another.


OPEN HOUSE January 18- January 21, 2022 from 9 – 4 PM


You’re welcome to visit during these times or to set an appointment to meet us there.

Please call 314-989-8311 or email FamilyEngagement@ssdmo.org

Upcoming Dates

January 13-14

RHS Finals early release High School


January 14

End of 2nd Quarter


January 17

Martin Luther King Day NO SCHOOL PreK-12



Ritenour District Event Calendar

Let's Talk!

Let’s Talk is an open invitation from Special School District (SSD) to tell us what’s on your mind.​Let’s Talk is an easy way to submit feedback at your convenience directly to the SSD staff member who can help.

Ritenour School District

Leslie Mueller, Special Education Coordinator - Kratz, Marvin & Wyland

Emya Williams, Special Education Coordinator - Iveland, Marion & Buder

Gloria Perry, Special Education Coordinator - Hoech & Ritenour Middle

Nathan Dwyer, Special Education Coordinator - Ritenour High