BPS Families and Staff
With the district experiencing yet another surge in COVID cases, I worry that these frequent updates can have the unintended effect of causing even more anxiety and concern among our teachers, staff, students, and families. While the intent of these messages has always been to communicate our district’s status and plans in a timely, transparent, and straightforward manner, I also recognize that many have grown quite weary of the negative news surrounding this terrible virus.
We all anticipate the day when these updates become unnecessary. There will be a time, hopefully soon, when we can shift our conversations to more positive news related to the incredible achievements of our students; the exciting plans related to our high school campus master plan and a new academic building; our district’s innovative plans for enhancing teaching and learning into the future; and the fostering of a collaborative community and school culture focused on preparing our children for success in a rapidly-changing world. The best days for Bixby schools are ahead of us and we can’t wait to engage you fully in these conversations.
Until that time, we will continue to navigate this pandemic in a manner which best serves and supports our teachers, students and families. Our plans and decisions are predicated on preserving as much normalcy as possible, while helping students continue to advance academically and keeping us all healthy and well.
My district team coordinates daily with our site principals and nursing staff to track and manage these cases as they are reported. In many cases, this work is being done well into the evening hours and on weekends. This is in addition to these individual’s many other assigned responsibilities and job functions. The work is difficult, stressful, and time-consuming. I cannot thank these staff members and administrators enough for their diligence and dedication over the past few months.
Unfortunately, today’s update is not positive. We have added twenty staff members and over four hundred students to our isolated or quarantined lists just since Wednesday. Combined with individuals identified earlier in the week, the percentage of students impacted by COVID is now nearly 15% districtwide. This is the result of having more than 50 positive cases identified in our schools in the past week. Yesterday, we had 17 positions that were unable to be filled by a qualified substitute. We are doing all we can to keep students in-person, yet it is very difficult.
Given the numbers this afternoon, we are having to make the decision to keep or transition some school sites and/or grade levels into distance learning next week. Sites not listed below remain or will return to in-person instruction. As a cautionary note, our case numbers can change rapidly and the shortage of substitutes remains an intractable challenge. Accordingly, all families should remain prepared for potential disruptions to school until the current COVID surge subsides. Also, these distance learning decisions do not impact those students who are already isolated or quarantined.
The schools/grades that will transition to, or remain in distance learning are:
Ninth Grade Center - will return to in-person on Thursday, Feb. 4
West Intermediate, grade 5 - will return to in-person on Monday, Feb. 8
It is critically important that families continue to report positive student cases to their school sites as soon as possible as this will assist us in minimizing exposures in school and safeguarding other students and staff.
Finally, I want to thank each of you for your continued patience and understanding during this challenging time. I know our teachers and staff also appreciate your strong support. As I have said many times before, we’ll get through this together and come back stronger than ever.