by Eric Webb
Superintendent, Orcas Island School District
It is hard to believe that Orcas Island School District will begin welcoming students back to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year in a matter of weeks! With the new school year approaching, I wanted to reach out and let you know that the Orcas Island School District has been refining and finalizing details on our plan for a safe return to campus. We can be proud of the mitigation strategies implemented last year as a result of the measures taken by students, staff, and parents to keep our students safe which led to the successful completion of the school year without an outbreak or transmission of COVID-19 in the district!
This year, we will take even more steps to keep our students safe, as OISD will be open Monday through Friday for on-campus, in-person learning! For parents that prefer an alternative to in-person learning for their children, we offer our premier Parent Partnership Program, OASIS for a flexible and remote experience.
How can you help make OISD’s Safe Return to School a reality?
Participate in screening for a safe start
In an effort to provide a safe start to the new school year, we are offering Screening for a Safe Start, a free, voluntary, drive-thru testing for all OISD students and staff (regardless of vaccination status) prior to the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
OISD Health and Wellness Staff and OISD School Board Directors will be in the pick-up and drop-off zone in front of the Old Gym 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25 to administer free, COVID-19 tests. Please mark your calendars and plan to bring your children by on August 25. Our goal is a 100% participation rate to keep our kids safe!
Consent Form – Go to orcasislandschools.org or our Facebook page for the link to the consent form. Please complete a consent form prior to testing and for each student being tested (just click on the link again for each additional child). Parents or guardians must accompany children under the age of 18.
The tests will be a shallow dry nasal swab and the tests will be pooled (or batched) in cohort groups. We should have results of the tests within two days, if we receive a positive result, only the individuals in that cohort will be notified via phone or email, and individuals will be offered additional testing at that time. If you have any questions, please email Dbruland@orcas.k12.wa.us.
The CDC recommends that everyone 12 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Get vaccinated as soon as you can. Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With the recent presence of Delta Variant, getting vaccinated has never been more important.
Stay home and keep your children home when sick
Staying home when sick is essential to maintaining a healthy school community and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses to others. Students and school employees with symptoms of illness such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and seek medical evaluation as well as testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Please note, daily attestations will no longer be required when entering the school for the day.
Building upon success
It is clear that OISD’s mitigation and safety strategies implemented last school year were a success, as no COVID transmission occurred within the district. So, in addition to the new safety measures listed above, the following safety strategies from last school year will remain in place, although enhanced and improved upon and in compliance with current regulations and recommendations:
• Face coverings/masks for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status
• Physical distancing of three feet between students in classroom settings to the degree possible and reasonable
• Ventilation improvement i.e., more outside time, opening windows, and adjusting the HVAC system to allow the maximum amount of outside air to enter indoor spaces
• Frequent handwashing and good respiratory etiquette
• Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing our facilities
• Students and staff staying home when sick and seeking evaluation and testing as necessary
• Continued weekly screening clinics (COVID-19 testing) at OISD as needed for symptomatic and asymptomatic students and staff, with the addition of screening clinics held after school breaks
• Contract tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation
If we continue to work together, we will have students at school safely engaging in learning every day, five days a week, and throughout the year!
Back to School Soft Start Schedule
First Day of School: The first day of school for all students will be Wednesday, September 1 from 8:30 a.m. – noon. Buses will run as normal, however, masks are required and windows will be down for increased ventilation. Breakfast will be served; however, no lunch will be served due to the noon dismissal.
Soft Start for a Successful Year: On Thursday, Sept. 2 and Friday, Sept. 3, we will implement the highly effective soft start by hosting half of our students and a guardian on campus for a full day each to allow teachers to cover topics to ensure a successful start to our school year. Scheduling for these two days will be distributed to families from their students’ respective schools.
Labor Day: No School on Monday, Sept. 6.
Regular Schedule: On Tuesday, Sept. 7, we welcome all of our students for a full day of school, and we will adhere to our district calendar for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year.
Elementary School & Montessori Public – 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
Middle School & High School – 8:30 a.m.-3:25 p.m.
OISD’s District Calendar can be found here, OISD Calendar 2021-2022.
Transportation Shuffle: Please be aware of the following changes with regard to dropping off and picking up students:
School buses will be staged in the circle driveway in front of the middle school near the flagpole this year. Students will arrive and depart from buses at this location. Only school buses will be allowed to enter and park in this area during school hours.
All other drop-off and pick-up of students will be directed to the front of the high school in the former bus location on the east side of the campus. Signage, traffic cones, and staff will help guide and direct you to the proper location.
Drivers dropping off or picking up Elementary and Montessori Public students also have the option to use parking spaces directly located in front of the school garden. You must be parked in one of these spaces before allowing students to enter or exit your vehicle.
We Can Do This! We are all excited for this next school year, and we know our school community is ready to take on any challenges that may come our way. We commit to sharing information as we continue to learn how to keep students and staff as safe as possible. We plan to keep our schools open, and we can do this safely and successfully with your help.
Take care of one another and be well,