VOLUME 10, ISSUE 3, October 2021
Masking at HHS
I have had many parents and students ask why Homer High School went to a masking mandate for two weeks and the process used to make this decision. The answer is all about the numbers: the number of COVID-19 cases in the building spiked to 13 in under a week, we sent home 111 students for close contacts, our school attendance was less than 75%, community spread was very high and available local hospital beds was low.
When you take all of these indicators together, is was a straightforward decision for the KPBSD Superintendent, Clayton Holland, to make. Since Homer High went to masking, we have had only 5 COVID-19 cases in the building and less than 10 students who had to go home and isolate for close contact.
Since our goal from the beginning of the year has been to keep students in school in person, having 111 students home for up to 5 days each as "close contacts" was not sustainable. While I know many parents were frustrated that their children had to stay home, this mitigation worked as designed and helped keep several cases out of the building and keep more kids in school in person.
Here is the process that the KPBSD now uses to determine when HHS or any KPBSD school transitions to wearing masks.
Criterial to transition to a mask mandate:
(Must meet 4 of 5 categories)
- 3% or more of school population has COVID-19 over a 7 day period (staff & students)
- 25% or more absenteeism rate for school
- High community transmission
- Local/Regional hospital/ICU capacity
- High staff absenteeism rate & impact
- Trends, bus routes, super spreader events and more are considered when making this decision.
- The Principal gives input, but does not make the call to mask or not mask.
- The superintendent makes the final call if a school will mandate masks or not.
We are doing what we can to keep students in school, but we have to do it safely while also being responsive to our staff, parents and community. It is a fine line we are trying walk. We are in school in person during a pandemic and it is not an easy thing to do. I want to thank everyone for for their patience and understanding as we work through the best way to do this.
Everyone at the high school has choices about their risk level. Students are encouraged to wear masks and high school students can get vaccinated. Students can distance themselves and keep a small bubble of friends to hang out with both in school and out. There are plenty of risks in life and getting vaccinated and wearing a mask will definitely reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 or getting very sick.
Despite all these challenges, I am optimistic about this school year. I want provide the best education possible even with COVID-19. Let me know if you would like to discuss what we are doing about COVID-19 or any other program at HHS. If you have suggestions or critiques, please contact me at 907-235-4600 or email me at email@example.com.
KPBSD COVID-19 Mitigation Plan
- Masks The district highly recommends all students and staff to wear a face covering while indoors. The district will follow local and state health authority mandates regarding face coverings. All visitors and volunteers must wear a face covering when indoors during the academic school day. When the exposure risk increases, and other engineering controls are inadequate, masks are available and provided to minimize transmission exposure. Signs identifying CDC recommendations for vaccinated /non-vaccinated individuals are posted.
- Symptom Free Protocol The purpose of this protocol is to provide a learning environment that promotes the safety, health and welfare of our communities. This applies to students, staff, parents and guardians, volunteers, and any school visitors. A person should stay home if exhibiting any of the following: any signs or symptoms of illness, taking the first 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, and/or have an undiagnosed, new and/or, untreated rash or skin condition. People entering KPBSD schools are asked to screen themselves and their children before entering any facility. Link to KPBSD Symptom Free Protocol
- Physical distancing (e.g., including use of cohorts/pods) Physical distancing of 6 feet will be encouraged while working and learning with others in the building. KPBSD has maximized the available space to allow for maximum distancing to minimize potential exposure.
- Handwashing and respiratory etiquette Proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette signs have been posted, taught and modeled for our students and staff.
- Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation KPBSD facilities have had bipolar ionization systems installed, and the custodial staff have been equipped with HOCL and electrostatic sprayers to improve the efficiency of building sanitization.
- Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments The KPBSD Health Services Coordinator will continue to monitor daily COVID percentages, attend local and state health updates and provide professional development and training to site based and itinerant nurses as necessary. Link to Close Contact Guidelines
- Diagnostic and screening testing KPBSD has provided testing capability and training for every school in the district. Antigen screening is available to students and co-curricular participants. All positive results are immediately verified by a molecular test. The district has either the Cue or Abbott ID Now devices available at each site.
- Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible The KPBSD has partnered with local health entities to provide vaccine clinics in KPBSD site facilities and has 9/17/21 KD provided information to staff, students, and parents about the clinics and locally available vaccines. AK Department of Health and Social Services Vaccination Page
- Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to the health and safety policies A variety of options are available to accommodate children with disabilities. The accommodations can be but not limited to providing additional engineering controls including additional social distancing space, barriers and personal protective equipment.
- Sports and Activities Daily symptom check for athletes and coaches, weekly antigen testing (no symptoms/no exposure), antigen testing will depend on travel destination, COVID Return to Play, Before or After Activity Best Practices, volunteer screening. For the health and safety of student athletes and coaches a 12-foot buffering zone from spectators will be in place. Best practice is to place athletic teams on one side of the gym and spectators on the opposite side as gym space allows.
- Transportation Per the US DOT mandate for public transportation, face coverings are required for all bus passengers travelling to and from school and for all co-curricular activities.
KPBSD COVID Universal Masking in a school (4/5 of these metrics will trigger a conversation with the site admin)
- School Community Positivity 3%
- Student Absenteeism 25%
- Local and Regional Hospital/ICU Capacity
- Community Red Risk Level (# cases per 100K)
- High Staff Absenteeism Rate and Impact
Other factors to consider:
- Bus Routes • Spreader Events
- Site ability to physical distance
Continuation or removal of a two-week mask requirement:
- District looks at data on day 6-7-8-9 of original 2-week mask requirement
- School Community Positivity 1% or less
- Student Absenteeism 25% (i.e. # of students close contact)
- Local and Regional Hospital/ICU Capacity
- Community Spread Red Risk Level (# cases per 100k)
- High Staff Absenteeism Rate and Impact
Process to determine if required masking should continue:
- Administration continues to monitor data if numbers are high or approaching high
- District Office Admin starts conversation
- Decision is made to continue or remove 2-week mandate
- Review school data on Day 6-9 of 2 week mask mandate
- District Office admin and principal monitor, discuss data (looking at trends)
- Day 9 tentative decision is made with a final check-in with school admin on Day 10 to verify no new information is present
- Communication process is initiated with school stakeholders
DATES TO REMEMBER
10/1- Homecoming bonfire 6:30 pm
10/2- SAT Exam 8:00am
10/2-Homecoming carnival 8:00 pm -11:00 pm
10/2 - Football vs Nikiski 11:00am
10/2 - Volleyball vs Anchorage Christian C-team 12:00/ JV 1:00/ Varsity 2:30pm
10/4 - Mariner Booster Club meeting 6:00pm
10/5 - HHS Site Council meeting 4:10pm
10/5 - Volleyball C-Team 4:00/ JV 5:00/ Varsity 6:30pm
10/9 - Wrestling Fiesta Night 5:00 pm
10/12 - HHS Fall Music Concert 7:00pm
10/15 - Teacher In-Service/no school for students
10/19 - Volleyball C-Team 4:00/ JV 5:00/ Varsity 6:30pm
10/19 - KPBSD budget meeting HHS library 6 pm
10/20 - Grade Check
10/28- Parent Teacher conferences/ No school for students
10/28 - Wrestling vs Redington 6:00pm
10/28 - Hockey Vs Kodiak 7:00pm
10/29 - Teacher In-Service/ No school for students
10/29 - Hockey vs Kodiak 7:00pm
(PTC) Parent Teacher Conferences / October 28th / Signup Here
The schedule is as follows:
9:00 am - 11:00 am
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
5:00 pm -8:00 pm
Please sign up for your conferences using this following link below. (The only date you can sign up for is October 28, 2021.)
Free School Lunches & Breakfasts
We have great news! Students who attend school in buildings will get free breakfasts and lunches for the entire school year. We are able to do this with grants KPBSD received. We are excited that every student who wants breakfast or lunch can get their munchies satisfied.
Culinary Arts Class are Working Hard
KPBSD Budget Meeting
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District requests input from staff, parents, and community members at the districtwide KPBSD budget development meetings, scheduled at the following times:
- Central Peninsula Community – Thursday, October 7th @ 6:00 pm Soldotna High Library
- Homer Community – Tuesday, October 19, 2021 @ 6:00pm Homer High Library
- Seward Community – Wednesday, October 20, 2021 @ 6:00 pm Seward Library
Additional information and the number to call in with questions will be posted on the Finance Page of the KPBSD website. As new budget information becomes available, it will also be posted on the Finance page. If you have questions, please call Natalie Bates at 714-8888. this meeting will be held in person in school libraries.
Buy Your Yearbook Now!
The 2021-2022 yearbook staff are hard at work creating a publication worthy of this year! Purchase a yearbook by October 14, 2021 and save $5.00. Regular pricing starts October 15 at $80.00.
Want To Know What is Going on At HHS? Use Facebook!
In these uncertain times it is important to know what is going at at your child's school. Homer High School uses Facebook to communicate with parent and the community about events, emergencies, school closures, sporting events, Covid-19 details and more. Go to https://www.facebook.com/HomerHS/ and be sure to follow us.
Don't be left out about news and information you need. Like us on Facebook today.
HHS Boot Award!
Congratulations to our first ever Mariner Boot recipients, Robert Fimon and Rachel Sinclair. Mr. Fimon is hard working and does immeasurable things around our school to keep it clean and safe, always with a smile on his face. Ms. Sinclair has led the charge in ensuring that students are fed healthy meals daily, often times when short staffed. Thank you both for your dedication to Homer High and congratulations!
The legend of the Mariner Boot…..
It began in September of the year 2021,
To be given to a special someone.
Who in the eyes of another has gone above and beyond,
For our school, our students, our teachers or of who we are fond.
Counselor Corner - Paul Story & Lisa Fellows
Please look out for an important email from the counseling office with important details about the lead up to graduation, scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at 7pm. If you don’t see the message, check your spam/junk. And FYI, HHS will order all caps and gowns, so no need to do so individually. More information is in the email.
Applying for College
The most efficient way to apply to multiple schools is through the Common App (www.commonapp.org ). Many schools, but not all, subscribe to this service.
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – www.studentaid.gov/fafsaThe key to unlocking grants, loans, work study and the AK Perf. Scholarship.
- Application for aid for the 2022-23 school year opens Oct. 1, 2021.
- ·Stay tuned for more info on financial aid in the October newsletter.
- If you have questions, please contact the HHS Counseling Office:
Sallie Mae is offering live, virtual, expert-led workshops for families on the following dates:
Paul Story, grades 10-12 – firstname.lastname@example.org or 235-4685
Lisa Fellows, grade 9 – email@example.com or 235-5716 (am), 235-4691 (pm)
College & Career Planning
College and Career Plannnig
We’re going into 11th and 12th grade classrooms this week to work on post-secondary planning. We’ll show students some tools to search colleges, the military, and trade schools. Students need family support to realize any of those options. So at home, please keep up that dialogue about life after high school and contact the counseling office for help.
Figuring out how to pay for college or trade school is a big challenge that requires both students and their families to be “all in”. Here is how I’d recommend you prioritize:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid becomes available October 1st for the 2022-2023 school year. It is the key for seniors to access need-based grants, work study, loans, and the Alaska Performance Scholarship.
2. Institutional Aid
The vast majority of scholarship money comes directly from the school to which a student ultimately attends.
Some schools integrate their scholarship application within their admission application. Others have a separate scholarship application. If you’re not sure or if you just want to verify you’re being considered for all eligible institutional scholarships, visit the school’s web site or contact their financial aid office.
This site lists scholarships that have been vetted by KPBSD counselors in an attempt to highlight those regularly won by our district’s students, including state and local awards.
4. Scholarship Search Portals
Web sites like Going Merry, Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and the Sallie Mae Scholarship Search lists thousands of awards. The challenge is sifting through the many promotional scholarships, which are essentially marketing tools, to find the awards that are legitimate and worthwhile. Use your judgment and contact the counseling office if you have questions.
Alaska Performance Scholarship – The APS is worth up to $4,755 per year at virtually any college or trade school in the state. To qualify, students must take additional academic coursework and meet minimum GPA and test score thresholds. Click the APS Scholarship icon in PowerSchool to see whether or not you’re on track.
Western Undergraduate Exchange – Through WUE, students from the Western U.S. pay 150% of in-state tuition at participating public institutions. This can represent significant savings compared to paying out-of-state tuition. Different schools/majors have different eligibility criteria and application processes. Cross reference the WUE web site and the individual school’s.