Hello parents and students!
Our Osceola County School Board Members, teachers and staff, and I could not be more excited to welcome you back into classrooms all across the county on August 12th for a wonderful year of learning. While we had all hoped that the pandemic would be long gone by now, the reality is that we will all need to continue working together this school year to keep each other healthy and safe.
We will do that with two key principles in mind:
The #1 key principal will be to protect everyone’s health and safety, including their mental health. The good news is that all the safety precautions put into place last school year worked as we did not have rampant spread of COVID in our schools. We will be continuing our strict cleaning and sanitizing procedures in every classroom and common area, supplying hand sanitizer on campuses, and enforcing social distancing as it allows. We will also continue encouraging hand washing, conducting contact tracing, and closely monitoring COVID data in conjunction with our partners at the Department of Health and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Our focus will also be on providing mental health supports for our students and staff to provide everyone with the resources they need to thrive.
There are though two important changes from last school year that I want you to know:
At this point in time, parents can make the decision as to whether their child will wear a mask while at school based on what is right for their family. Masks are strongly encouraged on buses, as social distancing is not possible.
In addition, students and staff who have been vaccinated and come into direct contact for more than 15 minutes with a person at school who has tested positive will be notified but they no longer have to quarantine, as long as they remain asymptomatic. Students who quarantine will be moved to either the TEAMS or CANVAS platform to ensure learning does not stop. Students will have the ability to access their assignments and to get support and assistance from their teachers digitally.
While I strongly encourage all students and staff to get vaccinated, it is of critical importance for students and staff members to not come to school if they are feeling ill. If not sick, students must be in school. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has led to an increase in the number of students who were absent on a typical school day last school year. And quite simply . . . students not in school can’t learn. Students who don’t learn, don’t succeed. And we want each and every student in the Osceola School District to succeed.
The second key principal that will guide us as we kick-off a new school year will be to extend the same grace and love to all students, staff, and families that we showed each other during the last year and a half. We’ll need to reestablish school and classroom routines, learn and follow safety protocols, and adjust to ever-changing health recommendations. I pledge to you that we will continue to communicate with you in an open and honest way as we progress through this school year. I’m confident that if we continue to work together and support one another, we will be stronger than ever before.
While we recognize there is much conflict, uncertainty, and polarization at many levels in our society, SDOC remains committed to ensuring every student has access and support for high quality teaching and learning, designed to help every child achieve his or her highest potential as responsible, productive citizens. You may rest assured, SDOC teachers will be following the state standards through our district curriculum unit plans and district curriculum resources, in accordance with state Board rule and School Board policy. While we will honor, respect, and embrace the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and cultures our students and staff members bring to school each day, we are committed to keeping our focus on what matters most: the safety and success of everyone we serve.
Stay safe and have a wonderful school year!
Dr. Debra Pace