LOCS announces remote learning until Jan. 19

Lake Orion Community Schools announced today that remote learning will continue for in-person students until at least Jan. 19, 2021.

Superintendent Ben Kirby made the announcement on the district’s website this afternoon citing data, academics, staffing and the upcoming holiday break as reasons for the decision.

The district made the announcement after Review press time. Stay tuned to The Lake Orion Review for further updates.

View Superintendent Kirby’s full release below:

Dear LOCS Families-

Hopefully you and your students had a nice Thanksgiving break, enjoying family and relaxation.

The LOCS administration continues to observe the viability of in-person learning and, with the planned remote learning scheduled to conclude December 8, I wanted to provide an update on the LOCS status moving forward.

Given the continuing rise in COVID-19 case counts in Oakland County and especially within Orion and our school district boundaries, this is not the appropriate time to bring students and staff members back into the school buildings.

As a result of the current circumstances, LOCS students (Early Childhood, DK-12 and Post-Secondary) will remain in remote learning for the next seven weeks, planning to resume in-person learning for students on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Several factors played a role in this decision:

  • DATA: With the positive numbers as high as they are and the positivity rate holding around 13-14%, the multitude of quarantines that we previously faced are likely to continue in the next few weeks. Our school district boundaries COVID-19 data (of all residents and ages who live within our area) increased to 98 positives per 10,000 residents last week. That number has continuously grown over the previous seven weeks. The zip code data (6 areas) that I follow all show a 50-100% increase since we decided to go remote in mid-November. We remain at letter E for our state. The test results’ extended timing remains a concern as we are experiencing well beyond a 48-hour turnaround, creating a concerning situation for contact tracing.
  • ACADEMICS: As we seek the consistency in students’ education, keeping students in the remote learning environment through the upcoming weeks will aid that process. Already students have begun the year in remote, re-entered the schools temporarily and then transitioned back to remote. The decision to bring them back on January 19 provides the middle school and high school students a few days of in-person classroom learning prior to their final exams on January 21-22. (Monday, January 18, 2021 will remain a day off for students, honoring the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. LOCS staff will engage in professional development on that day.)
  • STAFFING: When LOCS shifted to the remote setting two weeks ago, we shared it was no longer possible to provide the elite LOCS education without enough in-person staff members. The significant number of staff members in quarantine at the time (and currently), plus the lack of available substitutes created the unfortunate situation. As LOCS continues to monitor cases within the staff, even in the remote setting, our administration will prepare for the return to in-person learning when it is appropriate and we can be confident we have enough healthy staff members for the classrooms.
  • HOLIDAY BREAKS: With many families interacting beyond their households during the Thanksgiving holiday, the potential COVID-19-positive cases may not emerge well into next week, given the known incubation period of the virus. To potentially introduce the virus into our school community at the point where it could be the most vibrant makes little sense. That is a similar rationale for deciding on a mid-January return, as January 19 would provide more than two weeks from the New Year’s Day holiday.

As the LOCS administration assesses the many circumstances involved in this decision, the goal is to maximize the continuity of our programming. By staying in the remote setting between the breaks, we avoid bringing potentially asymptomatic students and staff together, only to potentially learn during the winter break about positive cases.

We will continue to look at what we’ve experienced to this point, extend the conversations with local health officials and medical professionals, to brainstorm progressive solutions for the January 19 return.

 

We understand the challenges these decisions have on our families’ lives. But with safety as our top priority and the students’ educational success the center of our mission, this is the most appropriate path forward.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through the pandemic,

Ben Kirby

LOCS Superintendent

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