Superintendent UPDATE for January 9, 2022
Omicron Variant and You! Wear an appropriate well fitted mask in public spaces, wash your hands, watch your distance and get vaccinated. QTS had four student cases of COVID, probably Omicron, in the student body last week and currently zero staff have COVID with 83% of staff vaccinated.
Dear QTS Students, Parents, Staff and School Board;
Staff cases in the past have been both unvaccinated and vaccinated breakthrough cases, of which three cases resulted during the Winter Break with no students exposed. QTS had a 60% attendance rate on Friday, January 7th with 16 students …parents reporting…their child was exposed at home or through relatives and friends. Eighteen (18) parents, out of fear, removed their QTS students short term. None of the student cases to QTS’s knowledge resulted in hospitalization. We know this variant is milder and typically much like the symptoms of a cold or non-existent, for those who are vaccinated.
Please review the Quileute Nation Health Center Flow Chart (January 4, 2022) in caring for those exposed to COVID. For the Quileute Nation a 10 day quarantine applies for exposure and COVID cases and individuals should consult the QTS web page for COVID and School Closure updates. QTS uses the QN Health Center Flow Chart as of January 3, 2022. The Clallam County Department of Health Return to School Flow Chart is slightly different on caring for students/staff exposed should also be reviewed. The County has aligned the new guidance with Washington State’s best practices for the new omicron variant. QTS was using this flow chart prior to the holidays for its off reservation students.
What to expect at QTS? The Superintendent is daily monitoring, communicating and working with Quileute Nation Incident Commander/Chief of Police Michael Foster, as well as area Superintendents and Clallam County Health Officials. Two thirds…of the 25 QTS staff respondents out of 42 surveyed… anonymously agree that QTS should remain in face to face instruction. The Superintendent and QN Incident Commander/Chief of Police report that unless QTS begins seeing COVID health issues crop up with the QTS teaching staff that the school will remain in face to face instruction to get through this phase of Omicron. Most Federal, State, County, and Local officials believe the variant will burn out by the end of January and continue to recommend face to face instruction in schools. The Quileute Tribal School Board will discuss the current events at their upcoming Tuesday, January 18, 2022 School Board Meeting.
What do I do as a Student? Come to school, appropriately wear an approved mask, monitor my distance, follow the tightened up school protocols for masks and continue my studies in person and online, UNLESS I have been exposed or contacted COVID. If I am exposed and symptoms show up OR I test positive for COVID, I must quarantine for ten days (10), I must daily access my course schedule through my Chromebook/charger and my internet JetPack while in quarantine. The expectations for learning continue as the first semester comes to a conclusion on January 31st. Many high school students still need to acquire their credits for high school coursework and graduation and are expected to do so according to the normal processes of the school. Teachers are placing student work to be completed into the same systems “Google Classroom” and Skyward that we have been using at QTS for nearly one and half school years.
What do I do as a family? We encourage those families who are fearful of exposure to reconsider bringing students back to QTS when they soon become comfortable, so far QTS has strong evidence that COVID is not being spread at school, but rather through weekend or after school behavior. The staff is almost all in agreement that our students after the holidays have been doing much better with masking protocols and listening to the teachings of the teachers and their Principal. If staying at home due to fear, Grade 3-12 students need to be accessing their normal school schedule work via their Chromebook, Charger, and JetPack. It is more of a challenge for grades K2, so know that teachers use SeeSaw or please contact your K2 teacher. None of our teachers are expected to perform synchronous or asynchronous video sessions at this point, as this is a characteristic of 100% remote, which is not our status. We are in face to face instruction.
What do we know? Students are resilient. Staff are doing their very best to help their students…it is what the heart, mind, and hands of a true educator does. I know the La Push/Forks community values their educators and we must remember that our teachers, paraeducators, bus drivers, cooks, administrators and custodians are on the front line of this COVID matter. Remember to show your support and care for your local educators. So how do we all handle stress? Relax…Reflect…Reassess…Rehearse…Ritualize. See Ann-Penn Charles Prevention Specialist article in the latest Talking Raven (pg. 6, The Five R’s of Dealing With Change Related Stress). Learn and grow from this COVID experience. We know that the models for educating our students need to change with these COVID conditions. Our students will persevere and our paradigm of education might not look like it has in the past. Our students most likely won’t be in the same places academically. So let’s all give ourselves some grace in this matter and most importantly, recognize that many of our students may be learning in other ways we have not considered or thought of, so how do we support, care for and build them up in this new environment. I suspect the answers can be found in social emotional learning, project based experiences and from our families.
Mark J. Decker