BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
With the 2021-22 school year beginning next Monday, August 30, Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Ryan sent out an email to the community last week to provide an update on the upcoming school year.
“We know our return to school does not come without challenges,” said Ryan. “While there has been a push by some to force public health decisions onto school districts, these are issues that must be analyzed and decided upon by those with the expertise to do so. At this time, there are no COVID-19 restrictions or epidemic orders currently in place in Michigan. Last year, there were nearly 200 executive orders issued by Michigan’s governor and nearly 50 epidemic orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Clarkston Community Schools complied with all of these and will continue to comply with any clear directives in the future.
“I understand that, for some families, there is a fair amount of anxiety associated with returning to school without any mandated restrictions.”
Ryan noted there are many ways in which the district supports and accommodates precautionary measures:
·Mask use in buildings — highly recommended but not mandatory for all students and staff as communicated by the Oakland County Health Division.
·Mask use on buses — required for all passengers as directed by federal order for public transportation. The order requiring masks on buses has been extended through January 18, 2022.
·Physically distanced spaces available at the discretion of the student to remove his or her mask and eat lunch or snack.
·Outdoor learning as permitted and available.
·Daily cleaning using products approved by the CDC to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.
·Frequent handwashing breaks and the use of hand sanitizer throughout the school day.
·High standards of ventilation in all buildings. District air handling systems are rated MERV-13 or better and the air in all rooms is exchanged eight times per hour. All buildings have air purifiers for sick rooms. On school buses, windows may be opened slightly when safe and practical.
·Public reporting of COVID positive cases by Clarkston Community Schools via classroom email and the district website dashboard at clarkston.k12.mi.us/fs/pages/2507
·Contact tracing by the Oakland County Health Division — in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, personal information on COVID-positive individuals will not be provided.
“COVID vaccination is also highly recommended for all eligible individuals,” said Ryan. “We will continue to monitor all influencing factors (including community transmission, local vaccination coverage, and number of local outbreaks) in order to make sound decisions about our return to school.
“As I have previously stated, our plans may change.”
Ryan concluded by asking for parents or individuals with remaining questions and concerns to contact MDHHS at 517-284-1055 or the Oakland County Health Division at 248-858-1280.