Monday, September 20, 2021

Operations Update 9.17.21

 Lewis County Metrics


Cases are predicted to decrease, but still the highest ever seen in Lewis County. Vaccination continues to be the strongest weapon against hospitalization and death. There will be a vaccination clinic at TMS on Saturday October 2 at 10 a.m. The Pfizer vaccine will be available to all who wish to be vaccinated.

School Operations

School remains in session with 100% in-person learning. While we receive daily reports of isolated COVID+ cases, there is no in-school spread indicated. In other words, students and staff are becoming infected outside of school. Staff and students who are identified as close  contacts are quarantining for 10 days. Siblings and family members are quarantining for 10 days after the end of the COVID+ patient's infectious period. This means that a close contact family member must quarantine for an additional 10 days after the infected person recovers and is asymptomatic. This means that the close contact is quarantining for a minimum of 20 days.

Close contacts who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine at all unless they become symptomatic.

Staffing is an issue for our schools both for substitutes and for supervision. If you are available to assist and have been vaccinated, we are hiring for paraeducators, custodians, emergency substitute teachers and bus drivers. Check with your child's principal for more information or call the district office at 360.864.6325.

Toledo High School

When you come to the high school during school hours, please park in the new parent and visitor parking area. Please do not park or drive in the bus loop. Any vehicles in this area block the entire loop to our busses. Thank you. 

We know that parking is at a premium right now as we work to increase the number of spaces available on the  north and west sides of the building. We ask for your patience during construction. When the project is completed, there will be more parking places than we had prior to construction!

Friday, September 10, 2021

TSD Operations Update 9.10.21

 Lewis County Metrics


Cases continue to increase in Lewis County. TSD has recorded 16 positive cases in September. Quarantines for staff coupled with a shortage of qualified substitutes are impacting our operations. 

Operations Update

We continue to serve all students in-person. Masking, distancing and hand hygiene continue to be our program for slowing the spread. We encourage students 12 and over to get vaccinated to limit the requirement for them to quarantine. We encourage all parents and community members to get vaccinated to help slow the spread. 

TSD is sponsoring a vaccination clinic from 9-12 on Saturday October 2 at TMS. In addition to the Johnson and Johnson (1 dose) vaccine, the clinic will be able to provide all vaccinations for children and adults. This is a great opportunity to fill in any "blanks" in your child's immunization record. It is also an opportunity to get a shingles vaccine if you are a senior citizen. Rite Aid is providing this service to our community and we are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our neighbors.

Please note the changed traffic patterns at TES and THS when picking up and dropping off students. Please observe slower speed limits and watch for pedestrians when you are near schools.


Friday, September 3, 2021

First Week of School

 Lewis County Metrics

The fifth wave of COVID has pushed cases to the highest levels ever. Here is the current data for Lewis County. DOH indicates that they are hopeful that we're seeing a plateau in the number of cases.


We are doing our part to mitigate the spread of the disease by masking at school, practicing distancing, hand hygiene, and air purifiers in all classrooms. Staff and contractors are required to be vaccinated or have medical or religious exemptions prior to October 18.

We need your help. If you or your child have any of the COVID symptoms, stay home until they resolve without medication. If you get tested, stay home until you confirm that you are negative for infection- even if you do not have symptoms. This prevents you from spreading the virus if you are infected.

Working together, we believe that we can keep our schools open to in-person instruction in spite of increased cases in the community, but it will take all of us being diligent with the tools that we have.

Sunrise, sunset

Morning and afternoon student deliveries are always difficult during the first days of school and this year was no exception. As drivers, staff, parents and students get used to new routines and schedules, plans lurch and falter until everyone hits their stride. As I was directing traffic at TES this morning a parent said, "It went too smoothly today! We need to do it again!" We send our thanks to all of the parents, grandparents and students for being on time and following new traffic patterns. Our goal is to create a safe and efficient transition for families each day.

Assessment

Our first assessment window will begin next week. We need to find out where our students are with respect to their achievement and skills so that we can begin work right away to recover from the disruption to learning. Please encourage your child to take these assessments seriously. It is our best way of meeting our mission of empowering students to achieve their goals.

Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Curriculum

Senate Bill 5395 was passed by the Legislature and Washington voters in 2020 and went into effect on December 3, 2020. It requires all public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education by the 2022–23 school year, with some requirements beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

    Instruction must be consistent with Health Education K-12 Learning Standards, which provide a framework for comprehensive instruction and the provisions of the law. Instruction must also be age- appropriate, medically and scientifically accurate, and inclusive of all students, using language and strategies that recognize all members of protected classes.

    Toledo educators have been reviewing curriculum approved by OSPI and consistent with the law. We have included only those lessons that we believe are necessary and consistent with the sensibilities of our community. In many cases, they are topics that we have been covering with students already (particularly in the primary grades). We invite parent input to these materials prior to bringing them to the board for adoption. As with HIV/AIDS curriculum, parents may choose to opt their children out of this instruction if they choose to do so. For copies of what is proposed for each grade level, please click.

Parent and community forums will be held on Sept. 7 and 9 from 6-7 p.m. at TMS to answer questions and hear input from families.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Back to School!


 Back to School is part of Back to Normal

We hope that you have had a restful and fun summer and that you and your children are ready for the excitement of the first day of school. We are so excited to welcome students and staff back to school for in-person learning beginning on August 31! We have been working to prepare the buildings for the arrival of students and staff including building a new high school. We have had a great Summer to Remember program for grades 1-8 as well as numerous activities for students at the high school. This should be a springboard for students to have a great year.

Here are some things to look forward to:

  • Seeing your friends!
  • Meeting a new teacher!
  • Seeing favorite teachers and staff!
  • Playing sports and being involved in activities.
  • Learning new things.
  • Meeting new friends.
  • New Counselors and Social Interventionists: The pandemic took a toll on children and families last year. Not being able to be with friends, smaller groups, reduced activities and online instruction all created a situation where the mental health and well-being of everyone was impacted. Thanks to federal funding, we are able to increase the number of staff who are tasked with specifically addressing these impacts. Our counselors will be working with children who are struggling emotionally. Our interventionists will be working with families and students to overcome obstacles to returning to school. All will be working to teach resilience and emotional regulation to everyone. 
  • New Assistant Principal: Brennan Bailey will become an Assistant Principal and will work at TES, TMS and THS to assist with students with special needs, supervision, and to support principals. Brennan has been an elementary teacher with the district and recently completed his administrator credentials. He has a rich background in education and is a tremendous addition to our admin team.
  • New teachers: we have filled nearly all of our open positions with some really strong and dynamic teachers. You'll have an opportunity to meet them on August 26 when we host "Meet the Teacher Night" at each school. 
  • We will have in-person instruction for all students Monday through Friday.
  • We will be outdoors for recess and socializing without masks.
  • We will have regular athletic schedules and programming.
  • We will have regular extra-curricular activities.
  • We will be working with families to overcome barriers to returning to school.
  • We will be rebuilding the programs and practices that were left behind during the pandemic.
School Schedules:
Meet the Teacher Night is scheduled for August 26. This is an annual opportunity for children and parents to meet the teachers that will be working with them through the year. We stagger schedules to accommodate families who have children in multiple schools.
TES 5:30-6:30  
TMS 6:00-7:00 
THS 6:30-7:30 

School Day Schedules:

TES: 8-230
THS: 9-330
TMS: 910-340 (Please note that TMS begins AFTER THS)
ACT days will return this year. These are 2-hour late starts. Additional special schedules will be available from your school. Go to our website for more information

School Calendar: Click here

Controversies:
I've had several phone calls about controversies that have surfaced during the summer. Here is how we are addressing some of those:

Masks: Governor Inslee through his emergency powers is requiring K-12 staff and students to wear masks while indoors when not eating or drinking. Toledo School District Board of Directors and myself have no legal authority to ignore that order. To do so would put our apportionment funding (85% of the budget) in jeopardy and our insurance carrier has indicated they will not defend or pay claims related to COVID litigation against the district. Students and staff will be required to comply with this requirement (unless exempted by medical provider). Masks are not required outdoors. In addition, students and staff are to maintain a 3' distance whenever possible. In addition, masked students who have been 3' distant and masked will not be considered close contacts for those who test positive for COVID and will not be required to quarantine. Finally, vaccinated staff and students will not be required to quarantine unless showing symptoms of COVID.

We are still sorting through the new directives from  the Department of Health and Labor and Industries. I will report more as we learn it. The best way to get rid of the mask requirement is to get vaccinated. While a small number of vaccinated people are having breakthrough infections, very few of them are being hospitalized or dying. Nearly all of those who are having catastrophic outcomes are unvaccinated. (AP, 6/29/21) 

We are planning a community-wide vaccination clinic on October 2. It is our hope that more people will be eligible for the vaccine and that the FDA will have fully approved the vaccines by then.

Mascot: We are still working with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe to determine whether they have an interest in us continuing to call ourselves the Indians. The Attorney General's office declined to provide an opinion on whether the exception in the law applies to Toledo. If we rebrand, the favored mascot is the "Riverhawks".

Sexual Health Education: Beginning this school year, we will be required to provide instruction in all grades on topics related to sexual health and social emotional learning. Our team has been meeting over the past few months to identify a curriculum and lessons that we think are appropriate and consistent with our community's values. I am working on a packet of those lessons that I will post to our website. I will also host a parent advisory group to get feedback on our choices. I will take parent input and our recommendation to the board for adoption. Three things are important for folks to remember: 1. the board disagrees with this law and actively lobbied against its  adoption, so we are looking at meeting the letter of the law, but no more. 2. Parents will be able to opt their children out of this instruction without concern that their children will be stigmatized. 3. Regardless of what you've read on social media or heard on radio or TV, we will not teach sexually explicit information to elementary children.

Critical Race Theory: Toledo School District has not and will not be teaching this. We will be teaching the full range of the history of the United States. We will also be insisting that everyone belongs in our schools and community and will exclude no child based on who they are. We want everyone to be able to show up as themselves and be confident that they belong and are supported. Our board advocates for equity in our schools. This forms the backbone of our strategic plan for the next five years.


I plan to continue to update this blog weekly with information about school operations as I did throughout the 2020-21 school year. 2021-22 is going to be a great year. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

School Operations Update End of Year

 Lewis County Metrics


Case rates fell again this week, but still remain above the state rate of 108. 

Toledo School District Operations

We have had only one reported positive case this past week. Unfortunately, there were several close contacts that were required to quarantine as a result. 

Commencement ceremonies, 8th grade and Kindergarten promotions, Culture Faire and other annual events have been able to take place. THS returned from remote instruction and all positive cases and close contacts completed their quarantine period.

School will finish regular operations on Friday 6/18 (a remote instruction day).

Summer To Remember

It is our goal that all Toledo students will have at least one interaction with school this summer. We are planning some summer field trips for grades 1-8 as well as athletic camps and other activities at THS. Many students will participate in some academic support work at the end of July and first part of August. Breakfast and lunch will be served for all children under 18 during these four weeks. Watch for specific information about Summer to Remember and get your children signed up for some fun.

Fall, 2021

As of this writing, the Department of Health, Labor and Industries and OSPI are all indicating that while we will be back in our school buildings next year, it would appear that we will be continuing to use masks, distancing and hand hygiene while also encouraging everyone who can to get vaccinated. We are also expecting to continue to be required to do daily health screenings (attestations and temp checks) at all schools. If this guidance changes, we will let you know.

Final Blog Post

This will be my last blog post on school operations for the 2020-21 school year. When changes to school operations are required by future regulations or guidance, they will be reported first on our website and Facebook page and later via SchoolMessenger and/or autodialer. If school operations continue to be compromised in the Fall of 2021, I may resume this blog.

On behalf of all of us at Toledo School District, thank you for your support of our staff and their efforts to keep your children safe and healthy while also providing them with opportunities and meaningful experiences. We look forward to seeing your children this summer and again in the Fall.

Friday, June 4, 2021

School Operations Update 6.4.21

 Lewis County Metrics


Cases in Lewis County fell this week, however we are still well-above the state case rate of 140.5. In addition, while 63% of the state's population has had at least the first dose of vaccine, 35% of Lewis County's population has done so. 

To date, there have been 194 COVID cases recorded in the 98591 zip code.

What Does This Mean for Toledo School District?

I will be reporting the following to the Board of Directors at their special meeting tomorrow:

Between March 29 and May 6, TSD recorded no positive cases of COVID amongst staff and students.

Between May 7 and June 3, TSD has received notification of 28 COVID positive cases and 62 close contacts. A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. There are currently 10 people associated with TSD that are COVID positive. Six of them reported in the first three days of June. Five of them are associated with THS.

While our cases have not crossed Lewis County Public Health and Social Services (LCPHSS) thresholds for closing classrooms or schools, we have reason to believe that elements of our community are not following public health guidelines and are placing students and staff at risk.

·         108 people attended a privately-sponsored Prom on 5/22. One attendee had family members who tested positive for COVID on 5/19. The attendee quarantined on 5/20 and 21 and then attended Prom. The attendee tested positive for COVID on 5/24. This potentially exposed 107 others. The attendee cannot say with certainty who may be a close contact.
·         There is reason to believe that there are students who have tested positive and have not reported their positive status to the TSD.
·         We have reason to believe that students and parents who are close contacts are not quarantining according to LCPHSS guidelines.
·         We had several elementary students arrive at school without masks.
·         Students are reporting that their parents have COVID and are sending them to school anyway.
·         Students are arriving at school with symptoms and reporting that their parent is aware and sending them to school anyway.
·         We have had a staff member who was reported to be symptomatic at work who later tested positive, even though a mandatory health attestation to the contrary was provided to the TSD.
·         LCPHSS disease investigators are currently inundated with cases and they report that reports of students with positive test results are coming in   several days after the positive test--if at all. (Lewis County currently has the fifth-highest case rate in the state) 

Concerns:

1.       It is highly likely that the health and safety of our staff and students is being compromised by elements of our community who are choosing to ignore or to willfully violate reasonable efforts to reduce the spread of infection.

2.       Commencement is currently planned to be an outdoor activity for THS and an indoor activity for CPA. Given the emotional importance of this event to graduates and families, I am concerned that the issues described in the paragraph immediately above may have the effect of making Commencement a more at risk event than was initially anticipated by the TSD.

Friday, May 28, 2021

School Operations Update 5.28.21

 Lewis County Metrics

Cases continue to increase in Lewis County even as cases in the State as a whole continue to decline. At 374 cases per 100,000 residents, Lewis County is the fifth highest case rate in the State. 


Lewis County

Washington State

Since May 6, TSD has recorded 15 COVID positive cases and 50 close contacts. We anticipate an increase in cases in the next week owing to an increase in extra curricular activities both sponsored and not sponsored by the District. 

I've been asked about Commencement. We plan to hold an outdoor Commencement ceremony on June 11 for Cowlitz Prairie Academy and June 12 for THS. All those who are not quarantined and who have tickets to attend will be welcome to participate. It is our hope that all members of the Class of 2021 will be symptom free and not close contacts with someone who tests positive. We will hold this ceremony even if only one student is not in quarantine. We encourage all those who wish to participate to stay distant from others and mask or get vaccinated.

Regular Order

The board has authorized us to continue providing in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year unless specifically directed by the Governor to close or our cases breach one of the thresholds for closure identified by Lewis County Public Health. Those thresholds are:

 

Classroom Closure Trigger: 

·         Two or more COVID-19 cases among students or staff within a 14-day period, who are epidemiologically linked, do not share a household and did not have significant contact outside of school grounds

 

 

School Closure Triggers:

·         Schools with fewer than 10 classrooms:  if 2 or more classrooms are closed

·         Larger schools:  if more than 10% of classrooms are closed

·         If there is a rapid increase in cases

·         If there are 2 or more generations of transmission

·         If there is not enough staff for school to function

 


While we have had a "rapid increase in cases", it has not been significant enough to impact safety for students and staff and has not impacted our ability to continue to provide in-person instruction. 

The best way to deliver instruction is in-person. Our goal is to continue to do so as long as we possibly can.

Masks

The CDC has indicated that fully-vaccinated individuals,
"...(may) resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

The Governor's proclamation and regulations from Washington Department of Labor and Industries require us to continue to wear masks. We don't know what will happen between now and August 31, but be assured that there isn't a single person in the school district that is pushing to continue masking beyond when the regulations require it. Like in-person instruction, we believe that it is best for students and staff when we can interact without face coverings. 

Fall School Operation Hours

Beginning in August, schools will observe the following regular operation hours:

TES: 8-2:30

TMS: 9:10-3:40

THS: 9-3:30

Notice that TMS will begin after THS. Students will be dropped off at THS before students at TMS. This is to reduce the impact of a two-tiered approach to operating schools. Students at THS miss out on many opportunities when school dismisses later. We have worked hard to find a way to get students at THS out by 3:30 while not requiring TES students to start their day too early.

A two-tiered operating system is needed because of a chronic shortage of school bus drivers. In order to return to a uniform start time of 8:25 at all schools, we would need 4 additional route and 3 additional substitute drivers. 

In 2005, TSD had 970 students and 400 bus riders on 8 routes. In 2021, we have 775 students and 600 riders on 6 routes. Fewer students generating more ridership served by fewer routes. Our busses do not have the capacity to transport 100 students and we don't have the capacity to increase the number of routes, so we adopted a two-tiered system to meet the needs of the community with the resources available.

We would prefer to return to a single tier system, but until we have more drivers, we will be unable to.