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Stilson Elementary School

Bulloch County Schools

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    Superintendent asks Department of Public Health to revise Administrative Order

    Seeks equal & appropriate enforcement across the state


    (Statesboro, GA - October 15, 2020) Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson sent correspondence to Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), on Thursday, which asks for immediate revision of the DPH’s Administrative Order for Public Health, and further seeks equal and appropriate enforcement of the order across the state.

     

    Wilson expressed in the letter’s opening paragraph that, “On behalf of Bulloch County Schools and its stakeholders, I respectfully request that you immediately revise the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Administrative Order for Public Health (Administrative Order) to include language that allows PK-12 students in the state ‘who are wearing a mask at the time of close contact in a school setting with a COVID-19-positive individual, and who then continue to wear a mask when not able to maintain a six-foot distance from others, and who also remain asymptomatic during the typically designated quarantine period, be allowed to remain in school for the sake of their academic, extracurricular, and social-emotional wellbeing’.”

     

    The letter is the latest in a series of actions in Bulloch County that began October 8, which seek to modify how students are quarantined. The Bulloch County Board of Education (Board) unanimously voted (8-0) to approve a motion by its District 4 member, April Newkirk, that immediately directed the school district to change its quarantine protocol, which resulted in an ongoing effort of clarification over the past several days.

     

    This Board action was later temporarily suspended on October 14, after Superintendent consulted with the school district’s legal counsel, as well as Board Chairman Mike Sparks and Vice Chairman Heather Mims, regarding a letter addressed to Chairman Sparks from the DPH in which Commissioner Toomey requested that the Board, “immediately rescind the action taken on October 8, 2020, to eliminate quarantine requirements,” and cited compliance with guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the DPH, as well as the legal requirements within the DPH’s Administrative Order issued on July 28, 2020, as the basis for the request.

     

    Wilson’s response to Commissioner Toomey’s letter expresses a frustration felt by him and other school administrators across the state that the Administrative Order does not ensure respect for parent choice, nor is it enforced equally and appropriately across the state.

     

    “While we are all struggling through this pandemic together and regularly adjust to conditions of uncertainty, citizens of our local community, particularly those who desire to responsibly exercise the fundamentals of liberty so dear to all of us, are suffering, and the future of our children’s learning and overall wellbeing are at risk,” Wilson writes in the letter.


    Wilson also requested that “any Administrative Order, current or future, regardless of its language, be equally and appropriately enforced across the state.”  

     

    Wilson referenced that in Georgia communities and schools there are instances of open defiance to the DPH Administrative Order. 

    “It is my understanding that these violations are being conducted directly and indirectly across the state and even in this local community.”

     

    The Bulloch County Board of Education may discuss Commissioner Toomey’s October 13 letter at its scheduled work session on October 22.

     

    “While I cannot speak for what future action our board will take, I believe I understand the spirit and intent of their decision, and I also believe they are supportive of my two requests to you (Dr. Kathleen Toomey) as outlined above,” Wilson wrote.

     

    Wilson believes that the spirit of the Board’s action was to prevent learning disruptions, loss of extracurricular involvement, and avoid negative social and emotional effects that multiple quarantines have on students. Some parents’ comments at the October 8 meeting also expressed a desire to restore parent choice for those who had selected face-to-face instruction for their children. It was noted that some students had experienced three quarantines, which removed them from school six of the eight weeks that school had been in session.

     

    Wilson emailed the letter to Commissioner Toomey Thursday afternoon and copied the local board of education chairman, the governor’s office, members of Bulloch County’s legislative delegation, and the director of the Southeast Health District.


    # # #

    Editor’s Note:  A copy of Wilson’s letter is attached.

    Daily Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Cases & Exposures Report

    Access Bulloch County Schools' real-time report of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and quarantines here.

     

    This website provides data for Bulloch County Schools' confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, clusters, and direct exposures that result in quarantine as reported by the school district's medical personnel and administrators using robust and secure protocol developed in partnership with the Department of Public Health. This website is updated in real time as cases are reported. While our school district medical personnel collect, monitor, and report other health data to the Department of Public Health, this online report will focus on confirmed cases, clusters, and quarantines/exposures.

    • Case: A reported case is an employee or student in either the school district's virtual or on-campus learning programs, who has received a confirmed positive diagnosis of COVID-19.  A reported case does not mean that the individual was physically in or on school property (building, athletic facilities or bus) on the day the case was reported.
    • Quarantines/Exposures: A healthy student or employee who has direct exposure to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on or in school district property (building, athletic facilities or bus) or they are the family member of a student or employee who has a confirmed positive case. Direct exposure means that the person was in contact with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 within less than six feet for 15 minutes or more. A direct exposure does not mean that they person will become ill. The person is quarantined and monitored for 14 days to see if symptoms arise. Currently less than 1.5 percent of persons exposed to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 within the school district develops symptoms or tests positive.
    • COVID-19 Clusters:  A cluster exists and is reported to the Department of Public Health if there are two or more people who were on or in school district property who developed COVID-19 symptoms or had a confirmed positive test within 14 days of each other, and who had been in direct close contact with each other. This is reported in order to monitor a potential outbreak or spread in a specific area.
    • Isolations: Isolation separates people who are sick for any reason from people who are not. COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms, some of which mirror other common illnesses. Based on our protocols developed with the Department of Public Health, some students and employees may stay home or be sent home to isolate for up to 10 days if they are sick. An isolated person can return to school if they receive an alternate, non-COVID diagnosis from a healthcare provider or have a negative COVID-19 test. An isolated person must also be symptom-free and fever free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing drugs to return to work or school.

    Isolation numbers are not included in this online data because their COVID-19 status is unknown, and they may receive an alternate diagnosis from a medical provider. If an isolated person receives a confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis, then this online report will reflect that data.

    • Students and Employees*:  The data reflects students and employees in both the school district's virtual learning and traditional on-campus learning programs because even those in the virtual program may be in or on school property.  College interns, student teachers, Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks & Recreation Department Afterschool personnel, and contracted services personnel who serve on our campuses are included in the data of this report as well.
    • All schools practice deep cleaning measures throughout the day, and areas where a COVID-19 person has been will receive immediate deep cleaning.
    • Only students whose parents were contacted are quarantined. Other students may remain and return to school.

     

    How is COVID-19 related absence information monitored?

    • School nurses will collect information on students and employees that are out for isolation or quarantine due to reasons related to COVID-19 so that the school district can adequately monitor their absence and their return to school or work. 
    • The school district will actively communicate with the Department of Public Health when school or district personnel become aware of a confirmed case of COVID-19 that affects an employee or student who has been in or on school district property. School nurses have the necessary contact information to do this. 
    • The Department of Public Health will handle  contact tracing for contacts outside the school environment related to a confirmed case. 

     

    How will parents whose child has been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person be notified and what are their next steps?

    • School nurses will monitor employees' and students' isolation and quarantine/exposure periods   
    • During the quarantine/exposure 14-day period, school nurses and Department of Public Health will monitor persons for any COVID-19 symptoms. Person will also receive daily follow up communication the Department of Public Health. .
    • At no time will any individual health information about other students or employees be shared with anyone.  The privacy of individual student health information is protected by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act, and individual school district employee health information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

     

    How will the public be informed of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases?

    • The school district’s Public Relations Department will maintain an area on the district website that provides up-to-date information about confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and any resulting quarantines/exposures.
    • This information will be site specific, but will not include any specific information related to the individual(s) involved.   

    How will students who are absent due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or voluntary quarantine receive instruction or make up work?

    • As a student is well and able, the school district’s distance learning option is activated for them, and the student will receive instruction and assignments at home from their Bulloch County Schools teachers via Google Classroom and Google Meet.
    • Once a child can return after a quarantine period, face-to-face learning can resume.

    How should families conduct daily self-checks to help stop the spread of COVID-19?

    Before you go to work or school, follow these steps that were sent home with students and made available on our website

    Bulloch's Board action temporarily suspended

    Department of Public Health requests immediate recension of action regarding quarantines


    Further implementation of a Bulloch County Board of Education (BOE) action has been temporarily suspended pending further discussion by the full Board at its October 22 work session.  The decision was made Tuesday, after Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson consulted with the school district’s legal counsel and then met with BOE Chairman Mike Sparks and Vice Chairman Heather Mims regarding receipt of a letter addressed to Chairman Sparks from Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). 


    Referencing her knowledge of an approved Board action that immediately changed the school district’s quarantine protocols in regards to direct exposures to confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, Toomey stated, “this action is out of compliance with guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health, as well as the legal requirements within the DPS’s Administrative Order issued on July 28, 2020.”


    Toomey advised Sparks, “Furthermore, I would like to remind you that failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor offense pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 31-5-8. Any person who refuses to isolate or quarantine as required by this Order may be subject to further action as may be necessary.”


    Toomey ended the letter with the statement, “I respectfully request your Board immediately rescind the action taken on October 8, 2020 to eliminate quarantine requirements.”


    On October 14, in response to the local decision to temporarily suspend further implementation of the Board’s action, Superintendent Wilson communicated by email to school principals and medical personnel. “We will not tell students who have already been told that they can return to school that they must re-quarantine as a result of this temporary action,” Wilson stated. “Please understand that the DPH still has authority to communicate with quarantined students and their families regarding quarantine requirements.”


    October 8, 2020 Bulloch County Board of Education Action


    At its scheduled regular session on October 8, the Board unanimously approved a motion from District 4 Board Member April Newkirk to "reconsider the Department of Public Health guidelines, and if a student is exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, if the student that is exposed is wearing a mask, and it has been documented, they do not have to follow those guidelines of quarantining for 14 days."


    This Board’s approved action went into effect at schools on October 9. For students who are exposed to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, a parent could choose if the student would quarantine at home for 14 days or be permitted to remain at school if the student and parent could attest to the following: (1) student was wearing a mask at the time of exposure; (2) student is and remains asymptomatic; (3) student would continue to wear a mask at school; (4) parent would conduct Bulloch County Schools’ self-health check daily with the student; and (5) the student would not come to school if sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.   


    During the October 8 Board meeting Sparks said, "This issue (quarantines) didn't just pop up. I asked the superintendent three-and-a-half weeks ago to methodically and carefully review this issue of quarantines.”


    Wilson stated that he had been in regular contact with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) during the pandemic, and he has discussed the matter of adherence to DPH orders and guidelines with legal counsel.


    "The school district has been operating under an administrative order from DPH due to a public health crisis, and it gets its authority from the Governor's executive order," Wilson stated. "I don't think this superintendent or Board has ever done this before in terms of revising or adjusting a standing executive order."


    Based on feedback during the Board meeting, it appears the spirit of the Board’s action is to prevent learning disruptions, loss of extracurricular involvement, and negative social and emotional effects that multiple quarantines have on students.  Some parents’ comments at the October 8 meeting also expressed a desire to restore parent choice for those who had selected face-to-face instruction for their children.  It was noted that some students had experienced three quarantines, which removed them from school six of the eight weeks that school had been in session.


    Since the district reopened schools on August 17, with parent choice of virtual or on-campus learning, it has partnered with DPH to implement COVID-19 isolations, contact tracing, and 14-day quarantines of asymptomatic persons who had direct contact with a positive case.  As of October 14, there have been 102 employees and students who have tested positive for COVID-19. This resulted in 955 total exposures, 65 of which remain in 14-day quarantine. Only 13 of those 955 exposures (1.4 percent) have developed symptoms or tested positive for the virus.


    At the Board meeting Wilson said, "I'm frustrated. Superintendents across the state are frustrated, and we've expressed our frustrations to the DPH. We appreciate the board's support and efforts to help our students get back into school, and we want to continue to work in that effort by being diligent together.”

     

    Parent Orientation Sessions for New Virtual Learners are October 15 & 26

    Note: Register for one of these sessions only if you plan to move your child to Bulloch County Schools' Virtual Learning Program for the second semester.  At this time, these sessions are not for parents of current virtual learners or learners who are and will remain in face-to-face learning.

     

    Parent Orientation Sessions for New Virtual Learners

     

    Bulloch County Schools will host parent orientation sessions for families who plan to move their child to the school district's virtual learning program for the second semester.  Parents may register to attend one of these sessions either face-to-face or virtually via Zoom.

     

    The sessions are October 15, from 6-7 p.m., and Monday, October 26, from 10 - 11 a.m., in the Central Office Cafeteria, located at 150 Williams Road in Statesboro (Enter entrance E under the portico on the southeast side of the building). The virtual and face-to-face sessions are at the same date and time. 

     

    Please register for either a face-to-face or Zoom session, so that we can properly prepare for your attendance.  If you need translation services for either session, please contact Georgianna Darsey by email or call 912.212.8555.

     

    Register to attend a Parent Orientation Session

     

    If you register to attend a session via Zoom, these are the links to access those sessions:

    Virtual Learning Program Website: Virtual Teacher Sites, Technology Help & Resources

    Visit our Virtual Learning Program Website for orientation information, virtual teacher websites, technology help, and resources. 

    High School Football Game Procedures for Students & Spectators

    Bulloch County Schools' middle school and high school athletic programs are following Georgia High School Athletic Association guidelines for all sports operations for student athletes, coaches, event spectators, and athletic venues. As our high schools begin to host football games, which traditionally have the largest teams and highest number of spectators, please review the attached guidelines for Portal Middle High School, Southeast Bulloch High School, and Statesboro High School football games.  Stadium capacities are limited, there are specific ticketing requirements, and there are multiple guidelines in place to ensure social distancing.  We appreciate your support as we guard the health of our students, employees, community, and guests.

    COVID-19: Stop the Spread - A Daily Reference Guide for Families

    COVID-19:Stop the Spread- Daily Reference Guide for Families  

     

    In the interest of public health and to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Bulloch County Schools has put in place preventative measures at all of its offices, schools, and other buildings and locations. Your family has a key role in keeping our schools as safe and healthy as possible. Please refer to our COVID-19: Stop the Spread - A Daily Reference Guide for Families website to remind you of your daily role before school. A printed reference flyer will be sent home with each child the first week of school. Please refer to the flyer or website daily to determine if your child should attend school.

    District provides meal service to virtual program students; Pre-order by each Thursday

    Bulloch County Schools' School Nutrition Department will provide meal service to all families whose children are the following:

    • Enrolled in the school district's virtual learning program for grades Pre-K - 12.
    • Enrolled in the school district's traditional learning program, but are temporarily at home due to a 10-day isolation or 14-or-more-day quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms or direct exposure to a confirmed positive case.

    How to Order? 

    Parents/Guardians must complete this online meal service pre-order form by each Thursday to be able to pick up meals on the following Monday. The online form is available on each district and school website and social media. It was also emailed to all virtual program  and distance learning parents and students. Keep the link to use each week.

     

    What Does a Meal Box Cost?

    • Breakfast is free for all students.
    • Lunches:
      • Temporarily there is no cost due to a USDA waiver that may end December 18, 2020 or earlier. When the waiver ends, these are the costs:
        • $11.25 per week for Pre-K -5th grade students who qualify for full-priced meals  
        • $12.50 per week for 6th - 12th grade students who qualify for full-priced meals. 

        • $2.00 per week for Pre-K - 12th grade students who qualify for reduced-priced meals. 

        • Free, no cost for Pre-K - 12th grade students who qualify for free meals.  

    How Do You Pay for Meals?

    Temporarily there is no cost due to a USDA waiver that extends through the end of the school year.  After that time, the school district uses MySchoolBucks to provide parents/guardians a convenient online website and mobile application from which to manage a meal payment account and make payments online. You can also make a payment by cash or check at curbside when you pick up your meals.

     

    What Do You Receive?

    This service provides a one-week supply of five breakfasts and five lunches for each child in grades Pre-Kindergarten - 12th. The first two week's menus are attached below. Thereafter, the meal menus will be the same as those served in the traditional program, and the menus are posted on the school district's website and printed in the local newspaper.

     

    Who Can Pick Up? Meals may be picked up by a parent, guardian, caregiver, or the student if he or she is old enough to drive.

     

    What Time to Pick Up? There are two available time frames to choose from for meal pickup: 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

     

    Where Do I Pick Up Meals? 

    • Meal boxes are for curbside pick up only on Mondays when school is in session or an alternate day when holidays occur.
    • The pick up locations are outside each of the school district's nine elementary schools. 
      • Families with children in middle and high school, will go to their home's zoned elementary school to pick up meals. 
      • School Nutrition staff will set up outside the elementary schools during the two time frames.
      • They will place a box of food for each child inside the family's or student's vehicle.
      • Participants are asked to remain in their vehicle.

    What if I miss my pick up time? 

    Due to the perishable nature of the food and our school nutrition personnel's schedules for on-campus meals, the school district is unable to accommodate any alternate pick up times for those who do not come to pick up their pre-orders. Please ensure that you are able to pick up your order at either of the assigned times prior to placing an order.

     

    How does my child qualify for free or reduced-priced meals?

    • If your child was a student in our school district last year, and he or she qualified for either free or reduced-priced meals last year, your family's application is still valid for your child to continue to receive free or reduced-priced meals through September 29, 2020. 
    • To either apply to qualify for free/reduced-priced meals as a new student or to renew your previous year's application, a parent or guardian must complete a 2020-2021 Free & Reduced-Price Meal Application.
    • Our school district will provide a printed application to all students or you can complete the application online via this link
    • A completed form must be received and processed prior to September 29, for returning students to continue to receive this benefit.                      

    Happenings

    PTO Pumpkin Contest Fundraiser
    Red Ribbon Week 2020
    Music Curriculum

    Hello families use the following link and steps to access the music curriculum while you are at home.


    1. Click on Quaver Music.
    2. Click on the green tab "Log In"
    3. Username: Stilsonstingers
    4. Password: music
    5. My Quaver code: HOME20
    6. Choose from "Assignments", "Student Interactives", "Creatives", or "Quaverbooks".

    SES Calendar

    Leader in Me graphic

     

     

     

    Stilson Elementary School is a Leader in Me school. Leader in Me has been implemented effectively and successfully at schools around the world to address the social and emotional learning needs of the whole child. Through the program we teach children to identify and celebrate the leader within themselves through direct teaching, practice, and application of the seven habits. The paradigms of The Leader in Me teach students and teachers lifelong leadership skills they will carry outside the walls of the school to help ensure success in future careers and to build positive relationships with others.

    Habit 1: Be Proactive 
    Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind 
    Habit 3: Put First Things First 
    Habit 4: Think Win-Win 
    Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
    Habit 6: Synergize 
    Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw 

    Learn more about Leader in Me

    Resources