11/20/2020 Message from McDaniel: Weekly COVID-19 Update
OKCPS Families and Staff,
As we close out our first week of Remote Learning, the data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) indicates that the cases per 100,000 for Oklahoma County are now 73.1, as compared to 67.3 last week. As the number of cases in our community continue to rise, Oklahoma County remains in the OSDE’s Red Alert Level.
Although OKCPS has committed to Remote Learning through the remainder of the semester, we recognize the social and emotional toll that being out of school takes on our students. We know that positive interaction with peers and the ability to participate in school-related activities can play an important role in a student’s overall physical and mental wellness. Therefore, we are currently exploring options that would allow us to resume fine arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities in a safe and healthy manner. This may take some time to fully evaluate, but we will share additional updates as they become available.
In the meantime, OKCPS will continue to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. Just yesterday, Mayor Holt implored OKC to take a break from higher-risk activities for the next 10 days as cases continue to skyrocket in our city. The Mayor specifically encouraged organizations to allow their staff to work from home when possible, and OKCPS quickly honored the Mayor’s request by transitioning the majority of our staff to telework through Wednesday, November 25th.
But OKCPS can’t do it alone. We encourage our staff and families to follow the Mayor’s “10 days to stop the spread” guidance which, among other things, includes wearing a mask, staying home when possible and keeping your distance when in public. You can view the Mayor’s full message here: Link to story
OKCPS Weekly COVID Reporting
Each Friday, OKCPS reports the number of “self-reported” positive COVID-19 cases, along with the number of individuals who have been asked to isolate due to potential exposure to the virus. In order to continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 cases, we would ask families to continue to report positive cases of students to their schools.
“Close Contact” Exposure refers to the number of cases when a staff member or student was in “close contact” with a person who has tested positive for COVID and has been asked to isolate. “Close contact” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention occurs when an individual is within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days (or 48 hours) before the infected person’s onset of symptoms.
Self-Reported Positive Cases refers to the number of cases when a staff member or student has notified OKCPS of positive results from a COVID-19 test.
All students and school-based staff are off next week for Thanksgiving Break, November 23-27. There will be no remote teaching. Additionally, there will be no meal service available next week. Our district Administrative Offices will be closed for the holiday on November 26th and 27th.
This week, OKCPS launched “Canvas Corner” a resource that will provide families with specific information about your student’s learning and the work teachers and students are doing. Parent Observers will have limited permissions which allow them to see what is going on in a course and a calendar of assignments. Like students, Observers cannot view a course until it is published and the course has started. For assistance with Assignments, Test Dates, Quizzes, or other Canvas course content, please contact your student’s teacher.
Yesterday, our families were notified that on Monday, November 30, the window will open for all students wishing to opt in or out of the OKCPS e3 Online Learning program for the second semester of school. This window will close on Friday, December 4, 2020. It is important for families to note that opting into e3 Online Learning requires a 9-weeks commitment for children in Pre-K - 8th grade and a semester-long commitment for 9th - 12th grade students. For more information, visit: www.okcps.org/e3
Don’t forget that first quarter grades are now posted in the OKCPS Parent Portal. If you have questions about grades or have trouble with accessing the Parent Portal, please reach out to your child’s school.
Although the OKCPS 587-FEEL hotline will be closed next week during Thanksgiving Break, please remember that the entire OKC community can access the resources available through the 2-1-1 HeartLine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for help with counseling, rental assistance, food pantries, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, caregiver support, financial programs, literacy, and job programs. As always, please call 911 for emergencies. And, if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 2-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7 support.
OKCPS employees also have access to our Employee Assistance Program at no cost. Resources include emotional support, legal and financial guidance and much more. Visit the OKCPS EAP page to learn more.
In January I chose “GRATITUDE” as my word of the year. Little did I know back then what incredible challenges 2020 would throw at all of us. And, although I will admit there have been times when it seemed hard to find something to be grateful for, I’ve always been able to identify someone or something to stop and appreciate. More often than not, I found (and still find) myself feeling overwhelmingly grateful for each of YOU -- for the OKCPS Family.
And, as we move toward next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you will take a moment to appreciate the little things in your daily life and that you will join me in actively thanking those around you -- family, friends, students, coworkers, neighbors -- for all they do for you and for others.
OKCPS teams will continue to work closely with our state and local public health partners as we consider a variety of data points to inform our next steps and I will provide another update next Friday. In the meantime, please don’t drop your guard when it comes to safety. If we want to have our kids back in schools with our teachers and staff where they belong, we all have to be vigilant.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone. Let’s continue to take care of each other and stay safe.
Dr. Sean McDaniel