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August 25, 2020
Dear Oak Ridge Schools Staff and Families,
We want to assure you that in the interest of the wellbeing of our staff, students, and families, we continually monitor the State Health Department guidelines and respond by updating our COVID-19 Response Plan to align with current recommendations. We keep the most current copy posted on our website at this address: www.ortn.edu/information-regarding-coronavirus.
The Tennessee State Health Department is constantly monitoring state-wide data and making recommendations based on real-time information. Their commitment in this regard, combined with your dedication to taking recommended actions, has allowed us to have a healthy and safe start to the 2020-2021 school year.
I am sure we would all agree that opening school during a pandemic has been challenging in many ways, but in the tradition of Oak Ridge Schools, we are open and serving our families wholeheartedly and successfully. Because of this, we currently serve 78% of our student body in face-to-face instruction. We appreciate the teamwork observed in our Oak Ridge Schools community as we continue to overcome many obstacles together, working to make the healthiest environments possible, implementing not only a hybrid model of instruction, but also successfully reaching the remaining 22% of students with ConnectOR. This is a herculean task, and our staff, students, and families have risen to the challenge with strength and heart.
Here are the current COVID-19 statistics in Oak Ridge Schools after 19 days of school:
- Three (3) staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
- This represents 0.38% of our staff.
- Seven (7) students have tested positive for COVID-19.
- This represents 0.19% of our student body.
- Of the 98 students sent home with symptoms:
- One (1) student has tested positive for COVID-19
- This represents 1.02% of the group of students sent home.
- Of the 190 students sent home due to being considered close contacts:
- None have tested positive for COVID-19.
These statistics reveal a relatively low level of spread in our schools and are evidence that our school administrators, staff, and families have done an excellent job implementing preventive wellbeing measures in reopening our schools.
One point of clarification from the Department of Health that we want you to know is this:
We will continue to work in our schools to quickly identify close contacts of any positive or probable COVID-19 cases (those who have had exposure at any time from 48 hours before, through 10 days after symptoms developed; and within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes). After identifying these individuals, we will immediately notify the Anderson County Health Department to provide a contact list. At this point, ONLY the Health Department will determine which students/staff should be quarantined or isolated. Any family who needs specific advice about whether a member of their household should quarantine or isolate, and for how many days, may call this hotline:
- COVID-19 Hotline: 1-877-857-2945 available 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST
Below are links to the updated documents we are using to respond to COVID-19 cases.
- ORS COVID-19 Response Plan
- TDH Recommendations for the Management of COVID-19 in Schools
- TDH Return to School Algorithm
- TDH Protocol for Schools Assisting Public Health with Close Contact Investigation
Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help us best reach our families with quality instruction and healthy face-to-face interaction. We will continue to monitor the plan and look forward to a time when we can all be together again face-to-face.
Bruce T. Borchers, Ph.D.
August 10, 2020
August 4, 2020
July 23, 2020
Dear Families of Oak Ridge,
Our number one commitment in Oak Ridge Schools is success for every student. An important part of ensuring student success is placing priority status on the health and safety of our staff, students, and community. With that in mind, we reiterate that this will be a year of adjustments.
We have been monitoring trends in COVID-19 cases using the Tennessee Department of Health metrics, and consulting with local experts over the last several days and weeks. In response to current trends in that landscape, we have made the adjustments below to Option 1 of our reopening plan. If you have questions, talk to your principal or vice principal.
Oak Ridge Schools Preschool
Glenwood, Linden, Willow Brook, and Woodland Elementary Schools
The first day of preschool will be Thursday, July 30th.
The first day of elementary school will be Wednesday, July 29th.
Our preschool and elementary schools will be opening with the safety guidelines in place as outlined in Option 1 of the initial reopening plan, with students attending 5 days per week. Data shows that students in this age group are the least affected by the virus. Classes in our elementary schools are self-contained, the population of our elementary schools are roughly half the size of our middle schools, and class sizes are generally smaller than in our secondary schools.
Jefferson and Robertsville Middle Schools
The first day of middle school will be Thursday, July 30th.
Thursday and Friday will now be full days.
Our middle schools will be implementing a new staggered reopening plan, in which half of the students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half of students will attend classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays. This will reduce our class sizes to half capacity. Students will participate in virtual learning on the three remaining days each week that they do not attend in person on campus.
Oak Ridge High School
The first day of high school will be Wednesday, July 29th, and will be an abbreviated day.
Thursday and Friday will be full days.
Our high school students will also be implementing a new staggered reopening plan, in which half of the students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half of students will attend classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays. This will reduce our class sizes to half capacity. On Wednesdays, staff will offer additional face-to-face support as needed. Students will participate in virtual learning on the three remaining days each week that they do not attend in person on campus.
We realize that this staggered reopening plan will impact families in various ways, and we also believe the adjustments to Option 1 of our reopening plan will be beneficial to the health and safety of our students and staff as we begin instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.
Administrators from each school will be releasing specific adjustments to their plans in the near future, so we wanted to make families aware that the staggered reopening schedule will begin next week. Please watch our COVID-19 web page for building-specific information about this adjustment to the reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
We will monitor student and staff attendance, substitute teacher fill rates, and health department information to determine if schools need to shift to either virtual learning or having students attend on a regular 5 day a week schedule.
Families Who Selected Option 2 (ConnectOR)
If you would like to make changes to ConnectOR enrollment, complete a form using the appropriate link below or contact your principal or vice principal.
Oak Ridge High School: https://tinyurl.com/ORHSConnectORUnenroll
Dr. Bruce Borchers
Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent
July 15, 2020
Dear Members of the Oak Ridge Community,
It is our sincere hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. Unfortunately, I am writing to let you know that we learned today that an instructor working with students and staff at the Oak Ridge High School band camp has tested positive for COVID-19. The involved individual reported having experienced no symptoms of the disease before learning of the positive test result this morning. Nevertheless, before the positive test result was received and reported to us, this individual was in contact with multiple students and staff members while participating in band camp.
In an effort to mitigate the impact of this development we have taken the following steps:
- The instructor was immediately separated from working with the camp and was instructed to contact the appropriate County Health Department to make them aware of the COVID -19 confirmation and to seek further guidance.
- Band camp was immediately suspended. All band camp participants, both students and staff and regardless of their proximity to the ill instructor, were advised of possible COVID-19 exposure and they were advised to contact either their personal physicians or the appropriate County Health Department for personal health guidance.
- All band camp participants (and their families) who were identified as having been within close proximity to the ill instructor have been individually contacted to inquire about who else they may have had recent contact with and to identify the specific areas of the ORHS building they visited while attending the camp. Most of the camp activities were held in the ORHS Performing Arts Wing and outdoors and the participants have worn masks whenever possible throughout the camp.
- All areas of the high school building identified as having been potentially infected have been closed and will remain so for 2-5 days, at minimum, while the areas are stringently cleaned. No persons will be allowed to enter any closed location except for designated cleaning personnel. No area will be reopened until the ORS administrative staff has reevaluated these circumstances with the guidance of the school system’s newly formed Communicable Disease Team (CDT) which is composed of leaders from the Oak Ridge Schools and the appropriate County Health Department.
As we have functioned since the very beginning of the pandemic, the Oak Ridge School system has followed, and will continue to follow, proper protocols for this and every other similar situation, including:
- Confirming cases with the appropriate County Health Department;
- Quickly and transparently communicating known possible COVID-19 exposures to any potentially affected individuals and their families, as well as to the broader school and Oak Ridge communities; and
- Protecting the identity of the individual or individuals involved.
Again, it is our hope that you and your loved ones are and will remain healthy and safe while we all continue to address the challenges of the COVID – 19 Pandemic.
Oak Ridge Schools
By: Bruce T. Borchers, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools
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