Dear JEFCOED Family,
I’ve got several updates for you this week.
We’ve had another successful week of learning across our district. I’ve been visiting many schools and I love what I’m seeing. Our students are engaged and excited to be back in the classroom!
This week we released our first COVID dashboard. Moving forward, we plan to release this weekly on Wednesdays.
Let’s talk about our current situation and our procedures. I’ve said from the beginning we’re going to be watching the numbers at each school, and we will act when there is a problem. Thursday we announced five campuses, Oak Grove High, Oak Grove Elementary, Corner High, Bagley Elementary, and Brookville Elementary, will shift to mandatory masks for at least 14 calendar days. Friday we added Bryan Elementary, Corner Middle, Gardendale Elementary, McAdory Middle, and Snow Rogers Elementary to that list. All of these schools will begin requiring masks Monday, August 23rd for a minimum of 14 calendar days. This is necessary to slow the spread. It will also help us cut down on the number of close contacts that have to be excluded from school. Remember if everyone is wearing a mask and at least three feet apart, it is likely fewer students would be excluded from school if there is a positive case.
I have been meeting with parents when we implement a mask order. During those meetings, I go over our criteria for when schools shift to the different steps: warning, mandatory masks, remote learning. I now want to make that information available and clear to the whole district.
So what can you do right now? Well, the obvious thing is to wear a mask. Yes, they are optional but masks are Strongly Recommended. Again if students wear a mask, not only does it cut down on their chances of getting the virus, but it also cuts down on the chances of being excluded from school.
Get vaccinated. We cannot require vaccinations, but I again encourage anyone eligible for the shot to get it. The vaccine cuts down on your chances of getting the virus, and data is also showing that if you have a breakthrough case, your chances of having serious symptoms or being hospitalized go way down.
Practice personal responsibility outside of school. Folks, what happens inside the school walls is many times tied to what happens on the outside.
Finally, I know the last couple of weeks have divided our communities and pitted people against each other. That is unfortunate. I can’t control what you say, nor would I try. However, let me tell you what I tell my employees. Complain Up. Don’t complain down and don’t complain out. What that means is if you have a concern bring it to the people that have the power to make changes. It does no good to air grievances on social media and towards someone who is not in a position of authority. It does no good to start rumors that have no facts to back them up.
If you have a question or concern, reach out to me. Reach out to your principal. We might not always do what you want, but we will listen. I see all the emails that come to me. Do I always respond? No, and it’s frankly impossible for me too. But I read every single one.
We have to stay together folks. We need each other now more than ever.
All the best,
Dr. Walter Gonsoulin