This email was sent to parents on Thursday, January 7, 2021
Back on November 18 when I notified P-H-M secondary families that St. Joseph County Department of Health (SJCDH) was recommending area school districts revert secondary students from hybrid to virtual, I explained that this would only be temporary to cover the time before, during and after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays. This was one of several recommendations that SJCDH made in mid-November in an effort to help lessen the impact of COVID community cases on our local health systems.
I shared with you at that time that it was our goal to bring middle and high school students back to school on the hybrid model beginning Tuesday, January 19, pending SJCDH guidance. This week P-H-M Administration discussed secondary students’ return to school with the SJCDH and I am happy to report that they support the return of our middle and high school students to the hybrid model on Jan.19th.
We know that our students receive the most ideal instruction through face-to-face learning. It is in our students’ best interest for their academic success and social emotional well being to receive as much face-to-face instruction as COVID health safety precautions will allow. We are in a position to return to hybrid learning because of the following:
- The most common contributors to community spread are social gatherings in which COVID safety protocols are not observed.
- In recent local news reports, SJCDH states local hospitals are in a better position now than they were before Thanksgiving and that the post Thanksgiving surge was relatively modest. SJCDH is relatively hopeful that the post Christmas/New Year’s holiday surge will also be modest.
- P-H-M tracks the number of student and staff COVID cases and actively conducts contact tracing on all cases reported to us. We proactively ask students and staff identified as close contacts to quarantine. The cases reported to us are reflected on P-H-M’s COVID Dashboard; a link to the Dashboard is on the homepage of P-H-M’s district website. The Dashboard is updated daily except for weekends, holidays, and district breaks.
- Most secondary parents support their students returning to the Hybrid model for their students’ academic and social emotional well being.
- All P-H-M parents, at all grade levels, have the option to keep their students 100% virtual.
- We expect a modest number of secondary families will choose to keep their students virtual, which will further reduce the number of students in the buildings and classrooms.
Secondary principals will be asking their parents to return a survey declaring whether their student will remain virtual or return on hybrid. If you are a parent of a secondary student, please look for that email from your building principal and return your responses as soon as possible.
All COVID safety protocols as laid out in the Staff Return to Learn, the District Overview Return to Learn, and building level Return to Learn plans remain in effect. Among our many protocols, masks will still be required along with social distancing of 6 feet or more whenever possible.
Regardless if your child is virtual, in-person or hybrid, please continue to monitor your child’s health every day using this ISDH screening tool. Please do not send your child(ren) to school if they experience any of the following symptoms: fever or chills, sore throat, uncontrollable or new cough or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (especially new onset), diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain, headache (especially new onset of severe headache with fever, or new loss of taste or smell).
Also, please do not send your student(s) to school if they have had close contact with a known positive case, including in your own household, or awaiting test results. When you have a positive case (tested or clinical) in your household, the positive case should self-isolate away from the rest of the family members and the family should remain in quarantine.
We also ask all P-H-M staff members to self-monitor their health and practice these same safety prevention guidelines. We continue to record cases of students and staff who are virtual. Therefore, parents should still report to your school principal if your virtual student has tested positive, and staff should also report if they are aware of a virtual student who is positive.
For more information on COVID-19 & P-H-M’s safety mitigation protocols, please visit our Return to Learn page.
Stay healthy and well and thank you for your continued flexibility and partnership as we work to provide the best education possible to your students.
Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools