North Santiam School District
September 23, 2021
Message from Supt Gardner
Dear NSSD Families:
As we approach the end of our third week of school, we want to provide parents an update about how the District is operating in the presence of COVID. We have been really pleased that our schools have not experienced a shut down as have other districts around the nation, and we deeply appreciate the shared commitment from families and students. We are seeing a downward trend in cases statewide in recent days, and we are hopeful that our operations can develop more consistency. We ask all families to remain vigilant.
Students and Contact Tracing
The OHA and ODE have accepted the recommendations from the CDC to create an exception to the 6 feet distancing guidance for K-12 settings (for students only). Students who are within 3 to 6 feet of someone with COVID but were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks are not considered "exposed" and therefore not generally subject to quarantine. Non-vaccinated students that come within 3 feet for more than 15 minutes must quarantine. Fully vaccinated students generally only need to monitor for symptoms for 14 days and do not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms.
Lunch Contact Tracing
Since masks are off in lunchroom settings, the exception indicated above cannot typically be applied. This puts the distancing guidance for contact tracing back to six feet. The reality is most schools, NSSD included, do not have the space, time or staff available to seat students at this distance, so there is an acknowledged increased chance during meal service that students may be exposed and therefore, quarantined. We will continue to evaluate our processes in order to mitigate quarantines as much as is safely and feasibly possible.
Bus Contact Tracing
Current guidance from OHA and ODE does not allow for the aforementioned 3 feet social distancing exception to be applied to students on school buses. This requires that all students within a 6 foot radius of a positive case on a bus be subject to quarantine, unless fully vaccinated.
From the start of the school year through Sept 17th, we have identified 10 COVID-Positive students who attended school while potentially infectious. These cases resulted in 51 students being placed into quarantine. As of Tuesday, Sept. 22nd, 27 of those students have completed quarantine and returned to school.
Number of Student Cases
Stayton High 2
Stayton Middle 1
Stayton Inter. 1
Stayton Elem. 2
Number Required to Quarantine
Stayton High 16
Stayton Middle 3
Stayton Intermediate 3
Stayton Elem. 20 (bus exposures have impacted this site)
Staff COVID Cases
The District began the school year with 14 staff having had COVID cases since the middle of August. As of Tuesday, Sept. 21st, our staff cases or quarantines have declined to 4. We will continue to watch staff and student cases and quarantines, but we remain optimistic about our ability to conduct in-person school. Remember that our District serves just over 2100 students and our total District staff is approximately 275 people. On Mondays, we plan to begin sending parents a weekly total of cases by building for the previous week.
Change in how we communicate exposures and quarantine
Up to this point, District nurses have been notifying parents personally via phone that their student has been identified as a close contact and therefore required to quarantine. This procedure has overwhelmed our system. Moving forward, a quarantine notification will be sent through the District’s messenger service which will provide an automated phone call, email and text message. Parents will still be able to engage with our nurses with follow-up questions. Our intention was to also provide a general notification to all students in a classroom where there is a confirmed case. While there is value in creating a general awareness, the time-consuming process for contact tracing those within the 3/6 feet spacing must remain our nurses first priority. Instead, the weekly case numbers by building will be our broad notification.
Testing for students
The District has opted into the free, optional screening program offered to all Oregon K-12 students by the Oregon Health Authority. This is a weekly saliva at-home COVID screening test that parents can opt into. Participation in the program and all results are confidential, however, positive COVID-19 results must be reported to the local public health authority for case investigation and contact tracing. Parents can find more info and the consent form on the District Website or by emailing Santiam Hospital at email@example.com. Please note this is only a screening program. Parents who wish to test their child as the result of contact tracing or an onset of symptoms will need to contact their health care provider. As more testing sites become available locally, we will send more information.
Thankfully, the District is not currently experiencing any bus route disruptions. Mid-Co Bus has had enough drivers to serve our regular routes, but they are experiencing shortages in providing enough drivers for some co-curricular trips. This shortage has mostly impacted middle school sports. MidCo Bus is holding a hiring event this Saturday, 9/25 from 8am-3pm at 1255 Wilco Road, Stayton. Please check out their Facebook Event if you think you might be interested in joining the MidCo/NSSD team.
District athletic programs have had to make multiple adjustments in order to run their scheduled seasons, and this is most pronounced at the middle school level. Schools face a shortage in bus drivers both here and in other districts, as well as a lack of officials for games. A third source of disruption is positive cases or quarantines of student-athletes. We emphasize that most of our positive cases result from contacts outside of school, but students are exposed. Vaccinated students are not required to quarantine, only to monitor for symptoms.
The District has several open positions, which make our school schedules challenging at this time. If you are looking for work, we encourage you to visit our District Website or call your local school to learn specifics about that school’s open positions. If you aren't available five days a week, you might consider registering to be a substitute. We always have a need for classroom aides, lunch/recess monitors or food prep/servers to fill in for our permanent staff. You can find info on how to sign up as a substitute with EDUStaff our website.
Finally, I would say this: while our schools are not without risks, we believe we can do this. We will continue to work with parents who have questions, and we will continue to adjust to improve our procedures. Your input and questions are welcome; we have made several changes after parents have raised points. We know that we are not out of the woods yet, and we ask for your continued support and help as we move forward, but we ask that you remember that our primary goal is to continue to keep our kids coming to school in person.
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2021-22 School Calendar
Upcoming Dates To Remember:
Oct. 8 - NO SCHOOL, Teacher In-Service Day
Nov. 5 - NO SCHOOL, Grading Day
Nov. 10 - EARLY RELEASE (times vary by school)
Nov. 11 - NO SCHOOL, Veterans' Day
Nov. 12 - NO SCHOOL, school conferences
Student Accident & Sickness Coverage Available For Purchase Now
If you have any questions concerning the coverages available, COVID 19 adjustments or need help with enrollment, please call Myers-Stevens & Toohey at (800) 827-4695. Bilingual representatives are available for parents who need assistance in Spanish. Parents can click on the link below for online enrollment.