Hello Kirtland Staff and Families,
Over the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases have increased significantly throughout the state of Ohio, including Lake County. We all want a greater sense of normalcy for our students returning back to school. But, the positive numbers continue to sharply increase in Lake County (on June 5 – 43.9 per 100,000 and then the week of 8/26- 259 per 100,000). Many neighboring districts are seeing positive cases that have led to increasing numbers of students in quarantine. This data signals that the chances of students getting/transmitting the virus are going up significantly.
We believe strongly that our students learn best while in-person with their teachers and experience many positive relationships when they have the opportunity to be with their peers. The significant transmission of the Delta variant has the high probability to disrupt the learning and attendance in our schools without increasing layers of protection from the virus. I continue to listen to many different health officials and strongly believe the best course of action is to layer protection for our children to keep our students and staff in school. (Please see the letter below from the Lake County General Health District.) A major layer of protection is to implement universal masking until we see the transmission rates significantly decrease. Other layers include moving all seats in classrooms up to three feet apart where possible and continuing to practice good hand hygiene.
We will move to universal masking on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Just as we have monitored the numbers to make this decision, we will do the same when looking at moving to less restrictive protocols if/when the COVID-19 numbers drop in our state and community. We will continue to follow the ODH Quarantine Flow Chart when it comes to quarantining students and staff. Universal masking significantly increases the chance of our students being able to remain at school for in person learning.
Also, the federal mandate for masks to be worn on public transportation, including school buses, has been extended to January 18.
Here is the link to our Return to School Plan (Updated 9/1/21)
Here is the link to our Mask Guidelines 21-22
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I greatly appreciate your patience and support as we continue to navigate through these challenging times.
Chad VanArnhem, Superintendent
Dear Superintendents and Boards of Education,
Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the State of Ohio, our school districts, and the expected surge in the next few weeks, the Lake County General Health District recommends that students and staff wear masks and engage in the other prevention strategies identified below so that you have increased opportunities to keep our schools open. Governor DeWine, the CDC, and ODH also recommend mask wearing by all students in a school setting, whether fully vaccinated or not. During his address on August 17, 2021, Governor DeWine noted that the state will not mandate masks in schools and that it is up to school officials to decide whether to require masks at this point.
The steps listed below will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and will help to reduce quarantines:
- Monitor the health and wellness of all students and staff in the building and ask those that are ill to remain at home.
- When there is a medically diagnosed case of COVID-19 on your campuses or in your schools, identify and notify all close contacts and inform them of the quarantine guidelines. Following this procedure, send all information to the Lake County General Health District.
- Use multiple layers of protection in your schools to slow the spread of COVID-19 to include, but not limited to, frequent breaks for handwashing, increased availability of hand sanitizer, socially distance students when possible, and isolate students showing signs of COVID-19 until their parent or guardian can be contacted.
While the use of these protocols will not eliminate all opportunities for COVID-19 to spread, nor will they completely eliminate the need to quarantine, these recommendations of the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health and they are documented strategies to help keep students healthy and keep them in class.
Ron H. Graham MPH Health Commissioner
Lake County General Health District
5966 Heisley Road
Mentor OH, 44060