Pony Express

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OF O. HENRY MIDDLE SCHOOL

SEMESTER TWO-- WELCOME BACK

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NEWSLETTER SECTIONS

  • Back to School Letter from Principal Malott
  • Quick News--Where to I Go on the First Day Back, Other AISD COVID FAQ, Lunches-Indoor or Outdoors?
  • Save the Date and Quick News- Volunteer Opportunities, Snacks for Kids
  • What is Happening This Week
  • Counseling Corner-- Common Application, 22-23 Open House and Course Fair
  • Art in Action
  • Mustang News- Episode 14-Student News--Week of December 17th
  • Mustang Council--Next meeting Tuesday, January 11th at 4:00 in the library
  • PTA NEWS-Virtual Coaching
  • RAVE
  • Shop and Support
  • Student Code of Conduct
  • Yearbook Orders

Letter from Principal Malott

Returning to our campus Jan. 5


Dear O. Henry Middle School families,


Our classrooms will open as scheduled Jan. 5th.


We know what to do to fight Omicron. Our protocols helped us get through last year when there were hardly any vaccines, they helped us during the Delta variant, and they’ll help us now.


The key each time has been you. Your cooperation and support have allowed Austin ISD to consistently fare better than schools in other districts.


The best way you can help protect your child is to get boosted this week, today if possible. Also, if your children are older than 5 they can receive the vaccine. Travis County has no-appointment vaccine clinics going on now, and Austin ISD vaccine clinics will resume Jan. 8. Don’t delay, do this now.


Secondly, get yourself and your children tested Monday or Tuesday before returning to school. You can come to one of our 11 testing hubs starting Jan. 3. You can find the hours, consent form, and a complete list of locations on the district webpage. The closest location to us is:

  • Travis ECHS, 1211 E. Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704

  • Eastside ECHS, 900 Thompson St, Austin, TX 78702

  • McCallum HS, 5600 Sunshine Dr, Austin, TX 78756


Finally, when we see you again Wednesday, please make sure to wear a mask. A KN95 mask is best, but if none are available, a surgical mask or well-fitting cloth mask helps too. O. Henry Middle School will continue to hand out cloth masks to students who need a mask.


You have the power to make this a great school year, no matter what Omicron or any other variant throws our way.


Thank you,


Marlo Malott, Principal

O. Henry Middle School

WHERE DO I GO THE FIRST DAY BACK?

Mustangs will report to their ACES Homeroom class on Wednesday, January 5th.


While most schedules did not change over the break, we will be providing all students a new paper copy of their schedule.


If you don't remember whenere your ACES class is, you can check in the Portal or posted outside the cafeteria windows.

Other AISD COVID FAQ's

What is being done to manage the Omicron variant?

We’re using the same multi-level approach that has led to having the lowest rate of COVID infections in Central Texas: Wearing masks, social distancing, partitions, advanced ventilation, vaccination and testing opportunities, and constantly collecting and using data in our decisions.


Are you using the new CDC recommendations for isolation?

Yes, we revised our protocols to reflect the new guidance. Any positive individual who is asymptomatic can return after the fifth day of isolation.


What is being done to protect students in the classroom?

We’ve put in measures to protect students in the classroom, including extra ventilation, cleaning and sanitizing high-touch areas, a mask mandate, social distancing when possible, testing opportunities, making it easy for students to wash hands, contact tracing and notifications to families, vaccination opportunities for students 5 and older, and relying on our local/state/federal health experts for further guidance.


What is test-to-stay?

If someone in your student’s class has been exposed to COVID, you will receive a notification. From there, you can choose to have your student stay in school with a mandatory test on the fifth day, or they can stay at home and test on the fifth day at an approved testing facility. If they become symptomatic, they may need to stay home longer than five days.


Can I use a home rapid test?

At-home testing is a great way to have peace of mind, but won’t work for our test-to-stay procedure. If your student tests positive at home, please keep them home per AISD protocol. They may return after the fifth day and as long as they are asymptomatic.

However, for test-to-stay protocol, or if you want to make absolutely certain of the results, please visit one of our 11 testing hubs or any approved testing provider.


Are masks mandatory?

Yes. Masks are mandatory inside all AISD buildings and schools. We recommend wearing an N95 mask if possible or double masking for extra protection. Please make sure the mask fits properly, over the nose and mouth.


Where can we get tested?

Our website is a great source of information, and we have 11 testing hub sites and a mobile van that will be operational Jan. 3. There is no registration required, but you need to fill out a consent form online (use code AISDtest). Filling out the consent form means you’re good for the whole school year.

In addition, your school may ask if you want your student pool tested, meaning they’ll get an individual nose swab that will go into a group test. It’s another layered approach we’re taking to keep our classrooms safe.


What protocols are in place to keep students participating in athletics and fine arts safe?

Indoor activities are monitored closely and when students are not participating in vigorous activities they are wearing masks and distancing as much as possible. Outdoor events, per the public health department, do not require extra guidance unless that activity is causing extreme close contact.

LUNCHES-- Indoors or Outdoors?

We know that our Mustangs like to eat outside at our picnic tables. It is also a great way for us to get fresh air and sunshine. Mustangs will be able to eat outside on most days but we do have some criteria though on how and when we choose to sit outside. The conditions for eating outside are dependent on two main factors: outside temperature and supervision for safety.


If the temperature is below 50 degrees(including with wind chill) , raining, or snowing we will not be eating outside for the 30 minute block. During outside eating time, we do ask our Mustangs to choose a seat and remain in that area for the entire lunch break.


Also, there are times when administrators are working with students and families and we have a reduced number of adults for supervision. Most days in order to offer indoor and outdoor supervision, we need 6 adults present at lunch. On days we are short supervision, the administrative staff will host lunch in one of the locations that day. We will gladly take additional support and supervision and parents/guardians can sign up to volunteer during one of our three lunches.


But what about COVID and when we have to eat inside?

Our tables will continue to be spread out in the cafeteria and the hallways surrounding the cafeteria. Students will have an individual shield to shelter while eating with their mask off. Once they are done eating, they may take their shield down and pull their mask back up. Shields are wiped down after each use by our custodial staff.


Can I pick up my student for lunch?

You may check out your student during lunch if you prefer to have them eat with you off campus. O. Henry will not be able to receive any lunches from outside restaurants or deliveries.


Food Sharing

Food sharing is a very typical behavior for middle school students. All friends like to share bags of chips or maybe even a sweet treat. We ask that you continue to support your student not sharing food, as each time they put their fingers in their mouth and then back on the friend's plate or bag, they are sharing those germs. We will continue to also monitor and support the Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) rules which also means students cannot bring in food to share for parties unless approved by the principal and host teacher in advance.

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Happening This Week

SAVE THE DATES:

  • Wednesday, January 12th-Open House, Course Fair and Choice Sheet Night-5:30-7:30
  • Monday, January 17th- MLK Holiday- No School


Monday, 1/3-- Student and Staff Holiday

Tuesday, 1/4-- Staff Workday, Student Holiday


Wednesday, 1/5 --A Day---1st, 3rd, 5th, Advisory, 7th

Students report to ACES first for a new paper schedule


Thursday, 1/6--B Day---2nd, 4th,6th, Advisory, 8th


Friday, 1/7--C Day---1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

OTHER QUICK NEWS

Volunteer Opportunities

Adults--Would you like to volunteer at our school? Check out some more ways you can support our campus:

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30E0944ACA729A5FA7-volunteer

We will continue to update weekly for arrival, dismissal, lunch, ACES, and library slots.

Thank You!


Snacks for Kids

The O. Henry Counseling Department is looking for snack donations for hungry kids while they are here at school. Any kind of fruit, small water bottles, Granola bars, individual packages of pretzels, or goldfish are great items for us to have on hand. Please drop any donations off at the front office and let them know they are for the counseling office.


An easy way to help is to order on Amazon and have it shipped to O. Henry Middle School, 2601 West 10th Street, Austin, TX 78703

COUNSELING CORNER

Updates on Common Applications and Transfer Deadlines

8th Grade students if you are interested in applying to another high school, you are not zoned for you need to fill out the Common Application by Jan. 7th. I have the link below. Students interested in applying to Austin High School (AHS) and are not zoned for this school you will need to fill out the Common Application and complete the AHS Essay on Jan. 11th. Please sign up with Ms. Schmitz our counseling secretary in the counseling office area for the AHS Essay. Mr. Maddox the AHS Academy Director will be here Jan. 11th to administer the Essay to the students wanting to transfer to Austin High School. Two more helpful links are the AISD High School Programs (Have It All) link and AISD Transfer Dates and Deadlines link.

Common Application Link Due Jan. 7th:
https://www.austinisd.org/sites/default/files/dept/school-choice/docs/Common_Application_Instructions_2022-23_rev_10-21.pdf

AISD High School Programs (Have It All) link: (The Common Application is also on this link)
https://www.austinisd.org/haveitall

AISD Transfer Dates and Deadlines link:
https://www.austinisd.org/transfer/dates-deadlines

Dear Current and Future Mustangs,

Dear Current and Future Mustangs,


This is an exciting time of year where we look forward to the year ahead in middle school. It is also a time that requires some very careful planning for your future. Included in this newsletter are scheduled activities and information that will help you get ready for a successful new year at O. Henry Middle School.

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Art In Action-Zentangle Landscapes

Mustang News Episode 14

Episode 14

O. Henry Campus Advisory Council (CAC)-- Mustang Council


Speaking at a CAC Meeting

Our next CAC meeting will be TUESDAY, JANUARY 11TH from 4:15-5:15. If you are interested in speaking to our CAC using our citizen communication time, please email our CAC Co-chairs Jennifer Boltz at jennifer.boltz@austinisd.org or Sharon Albrecht at salbrecht78703@yahoo.com for meeting Zoom details.

Meeting Agendas and Meeting Minutes can be found on our campus web page.


Citizen Communications is the first item on the agenda and is time set aside for non-members to make comments to the CAC. The co-chairs may limit the time given to individual speakers and will ensure that the districts "Citizens Communication and Visitor Guidelines" are applied. Under these guidelines, except for requests for clarification, dialogue shall not occur between the speaker and the members. If the CAC is interested in hearing more from a speaker, the speaker may be invited to a future meeting and be placed on the agenda. The CAC may also call a special meeting specifically for the purpose of open-dialogue with non-members but it must be posted for discussion on specific topics.

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PTA NEWS

Our next PTA General Meeting will be February 1st at 6:00pm.

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RAVE about an O. Henry Staff Member

Would you like to recognize an O. Henry Staff member? Use the AISD RAVE form to give them a shout out.

SHOP & SUPPORT O. HENRY!

Donating to O. Henry Middle School’s PTA is as simple as doing your normal shopping! That’s right, there are a number of stores that have wonderful contribution programs and all you have to do is designate or inform them that you would like to participate in their school contribution program.


Randalls, through their Good Neighbor Program, will contribute 1% of your grocery bill every time you use your Remarkable Card when you designate O. Henry Middle School (# 713) as your charity of choice on the Good Neighbor Program form. Please see the link below to print and turn in your Good Neighbor Program form.

Randalls’ Good Neighbor Program Form


AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization selected by customers. Click here to start supporting O. Henry through AmazonSmile

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