January 9, 2022
As we prepare to start week two of this new calendar year, I would like to update the community on our COVID 19 response over the last week.
We know that children learn best when they are in the classroom therefore, as of today, Dearborn Public Schools will continue with in-person instruction. As always, we continue to monitor the overall conditions in our area while keeping the health and safety of our students, staff, and school community as the number one priority. In addition, we will continue to implement our proactive approach by preparing for any potential challenges that lie ahead including being ready to to move to on-line instruction, if necessary, at any point in time.
The decision to potentially change to online learning is based on COVID 19 infection rates at the classroom or grade level, then at the school level, and as a last resort the district level if necessary. This does not mean that it is certain the district will move to online learning but we need to be prepared to do so if needed. I would also suggest that families prepare and make plans to accommodate their personal needs if their child’s classroom, grade, or school were to move to an on-line learning situation.
Yes, COVID numbers in the nation, state and community are rising, and we knew we would see a spike in COVID activity and quarantines when we returned from the holiday break. During the past week our student attendance rates for the entire district were in the 81-86% range (PreK-12). Please note, these numbers represent total absences. Not all student absences are due to COVID so these numbers DO NOT mean that close to 20% of our students had COVID. In fact, total COVID cases are at about 1% of the 22,700 total students and staff in the district. In the spirit of continued transparency, please see the daily attendance breakdown below for the entire district.
|Student Attendance Rate Across the District
We are a very large district with more than 20,000 students (third largest in the state) and although a certain classroom or school may have cases of COVID there are numerous classrooms and schools that will have zero or very few cases. Moving the entire district to online learning is a decision that impacts thousands of families, affects the social/emotional wellbeing of our students, and does not provide the best method for delivering instruction. As always, it is a parent’s personal choice to keep their child home.
The Dearborn Public Schools employs approximately 2,700 full and part-time employees. Our staff absences were slightly elevated in comparison to pre-pandemic and pre-Omicron variant conditions but, given the size of our district, did not present a cause for alarm. Listed below are staff absent rates on sample days going back to pre-pandemic, pre-Omicron variant conditions, and the first week back after the break.
The first week back did present a few challenging and stressful situations for various departments and at various schools. For example, our Transportation Department had two days with higher than average absences. Rather than suspending bus service for the entire district, the incredible team members and leadership in Transportation were able to continue bus service with only a few bus routes being canceled. Please click here for a letter that was sent out by Transportation Supervisor Rick Sotres.
I want to commend our outstanding staff throughout the district who were flexible and exhibited calm and decisive leadership. We were able to keep our buildings open with the support of all personnel in the district including building and central office staff. We implemented an “all hands on deck” approach as central office staff were assigned to buildings throughout the district. None of this would be possible without the efforts of our district employees who were very flexible and willing to do what is necessary to keep our schools operational! I want to thank the entire staff and school community for coming together to do what is in the best interest of our students. Thank you for your continued service to our schools and district, for your dedication to our students and families, and for your passion and perseverance during these trying times. All of our staff members are working very hard to ensure that our buildings are safe, our students are fed, they arrive at school, and that we are implementing our mitigation protocols to keep everyone safe.
As mentioned, our school level COVID 19 reported rates the first week after the break between staff and students was manageable at about 1% of the overall district student and staff population. However, that does not represent infected students or staff that were in the classroom as many parents did the right thing (and we really appreciate it!) by keeping their students home when they had symptoms and/or they had a positive COVID 19 test. Thank you to the school community for that important action to keep everyone safe. As a result, we have very few virus transmissions in the school during the first week back. We are required to do contact tracing on every positive case per health department requirements. Our nurses do an outstanding job working with our administrators and front line office staff in every school throughout the district. We are aware of community data and hospitalization rates and will continue to monitor all data sets. We will continue to monitor daily covid rates in schools as we have done throughout the pandemic. My thoughts and prayers are with all those individuals who have been infected by the virus or impacted by the virus. I hope that you and your loved ones have a quick recovery.
In addition, we have recently increased our mitigation protocols by partnering with Vibra Health Lab to give our students and staff priority COVID 19 testing in the community. They will provide symptomatic and asymptomatic testing but this will not occur in our schools as we do not want infected individuals entering our schools. Click Here to view the information regarding this testing opportunity. We are also entering into a partnership with United Covid Control to take over asymptomatic COVID testing in schools. For many months throughout the pandemic we have received COVID 19 antigen testing kits from the State of Michigan to provide support to our students and staff. In addition, we applied for the COVID 19 backpack antigen testing program and hope to receive kits that we can send home to interested parents.
We need everyone in the community to do their part which includes getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, and avoiding large groups. We are doing our part in the schools with the implementation of multiple mitigation strategies to keep our students, staff and the school community safe. I will continue to promote the vaccines, boosters, and other mitigation tools that are available. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect our family, friends and the broader community. Again, thank you to our entire school community for working together so that we continue to mitigate the effects of the virus on our schools and the greater Dearborn community.
Glenn Maleyko, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools