Due to the unexpected spread of COVID-19 in our schools, the School District of Pickens will move all in-person students to TEMPORARY VIRTUAL LEARNING (Remote Learning) from Monday, 8/16 - Friday, 8/20.
SDPC will release plans for the week of 8/23 - 8/27 by Thursday, 8/19.
Last year, Dr. Merck's opening letter to employees for 2020-2021 (last year - dated 8/18/20), began with this:
“The opening of this school year (last year) has been unlike any other in my lifetime, and hopefully unlike any other yet to come. As we start a new year under the shadow of COVID-19, we are committed to sharing data with you about the impact of the virus directly on SDPC. As of the writing of this email:
- 3 students are under quarantine for "close contact;" none currently test positive.
- 19 employees are under quarantine for "close contact" or infection; five currently test positive.
As of 4:00pm on Day 9 (Fri. 8/13) of the current 2021-22 school year, the message looks vastly different. As of the writing of this message:
634 students are under quarantine;
163 cumulative students have tested positive since school began with 142 currently positive (some have returned following isolation).
The highest number of positive students at one time throughout all of last year was 85 on January 7, 2021.
30 employees are currently quarantined;
26 employees are currently positive with 11 of those being vaccinated.
4 employees have experienced hospital visits in the past 4 weeks. 1 student is currently hospitalized.
We have learned in the first 9 days that we are dealing with a very different challenge than last year. Currently, in our state and county, the Coronavirus Delta variant is spreading rampantly. Each county in our state is designated at least “high risk.” Delta does not play by previous rules. Initially, we could attribute cases to outside camps, parties, etc. However, once school started, we began to see students inside classes and cohorts continue the spread.
Our intent this year was to monitor the first 3 weeks and then open our school buildings during the day to more normal operations (as done prior to the 2020-21 school year) including outside visitors, volunteers, field trips, etc. Unfortunately, given the current COVID situation after 9 days, we must make a move to keep students and staff safe.
Temporary Virtual Learning (Remote Learning) beginning - Monday, August 16, 2021
Monday, 8/16 - Friday, 8/20
All in-person school closed and shift to remote learning
Schools will make contact with families on Mon. 8/16 to share a plan
All afterschool and extracurricular activities, including sports, are canceled from M-F next week.
We have asked schools to use Monday and Tuesday to make adjustments and ensure students have devices and needed materials (schools will share plans for how to pick up materials required)
SDPC will release plans for the week of 8/23 - 8/27 by Thursday, Aug. 8/19.
A schedule for how students can access meals will be shared early next week. Meals will be delivered Tuesday-Friday.
We have frequently been asked, “What can I do to help students stay in school?” Here are some thoughts:
Consider vaccines if available and willing as we respect your individual choice,
Consider protections like masks are very highly encouraged and were effective last year,
If you have any sinus/colds/sickness stay HOME. We are finding many of these cases end up positive,
Social Distance when and where possible,
Consider limiting large indoor gatherings,
Wash hands frequently,
Encourage outside vs inside play or events,
Practice good healthy habits of keeping your immune system up.
The safety measures our communities practice will help determine if we can meet daily for in-person school and have after-school events or if they will be forced to discontinue temporarily. We deeply respect all persons’ rights to make their own choices, and we respect our federal and state governments’ roles in guiding our schools. We remain committed to encouraging and protecting our students and employees in SDPC. We were very disappointed as we hoped for different circumstances when we came back together. The health of our community and the education of our students depend on your cooperation.