by Eric Webb
It’s been an interesting and challenging first week of 2022 for the Orcas Island School District, to say the least. This last week included lots of snow and ice, late starts, increased COVID testing, a spike in COVID cases, and a return to distance learning.
The snow and ice of late December carried over into last week providing the island with plenty of black ice and 4–8” inches of snow, resulting in hazardous driving conditions as you are very well aware. The good news is that the missed hours from the two-hour late starts and the two remote learning days this past week will not need to be made up at the end of year!
Also this past week, we tested over 300 students and staff for COVID, confirming record numbers of positive cases for both Orcas Island and OISD. Orcas Island Elementary School and Montessori Public have a total of eight positive cases; many of these confirmed cases are individuals who have not returned to campus since the holiday break. The district will tighten its mitigating measures this week in an effort to preserve in-person learning for our youngest students for as long as we can do so safely.
Orcas Island High School and Orcas Island Middle School currently have a total of 27 confirmed positive cases. Due to the high percentage of cases at the secondary level, we quickly transitioned to our Distance Learning Model and suspended athletics on Thursday, Jan. 6 with an anticipated return to in-person, on-campus learning resuming Monday, Jan. 24. The district will offer a testing clinic prior to the return of students. Note that OISD continues to offer both asymptomatic and symptomatic testing. Symptomatic testing is by appointment only. Email Cindy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Debbie (email@example.com). Asymptomatic testing is offered every Wednesday 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.
I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to our staff, families, and community for their understanding and support over this last week. School closures, late starts, and distance learning decisions are not taken lightly and are always made with the safety our students, staff, and community as a top priority. We understand that each decision often means changes in schedules and routines for our families, not to mention a great deal of inconvenience. I think you will agree when I say things are tough right now and we are all experiencing COVID fatigue. With that in mind, we could all benefit from both extending and receiving a little extra kindness, grace and patience during these challenging times. We will get through this together, and we will all be stronger when we reach the other side of this storm.