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As COVID Cases Rise, Royal Oak Schools Votes to Continue Virtually

As COVID Cases Rise, Royal Oak Schools Votes to Continue Virtually

(Royal Oak Schools, Nov. 4, 2020)

Royal Oak, MI – Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick’s recommendation to continue with virtual instruction was approved by the Board of Education on Wednesday, November 4.

A Special Meeting was held to consider the current Royal Oak Schools Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan. The recommendation to the Board was to remain in the current mode of remote learning until at least the end of the first semester on January 29, 2021.

Moving forward, per the requirements of the State of Michigan, we are required to review the Royal Oak Schools Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan with the Board of Education once per month for their consideration. As always, we will continue to assess the situation in the community on a regular basis.

In recent days, Oakland County has moved from a rating of ‘C’ to an ‘E’ on the county risk determination chart. That indicator ranges from “Low Risk” which means there are less than seven cases per million and less than 3% positivity in the county, and goes through Levels A-E. The current rating of ‘E’ is the highest risk level and means Oakland County cases are 150 or greater per million, with 20% or greater positivity.

Per the guidance for in-person instruction from the Oakland County Health Division, “Building(s) with known cases in staff or students but no ongoing transmission” should “consider remote instruction in (the) entire district”. Therefore, we recommended that the district remain in a remote learning mode and not return to hybrid learning as planned for November 9.

When the Royal Oak Schools plan was reviewed in early October, the county was at a risk level ‘C’ but has quickly escalated to an ‘E’ in a matter of weeks. We are also experiencing some critical shortages of staff due to quarantine rules. Some of the cases are being transmitted outside of school, where staff and students are reporting positive cases in their households. If this pattern continues, we will not be able to staff many classrooms and programs, as the region is experiencing a critical shortage of substitute teachers.

The recommendation to the Board of Education includes a few changes which will impact the GSRP and special education students. We will be recommending that their current hybrid plan be moved to a full remote plan as well due to the high risk level we are experiencing.

With the Board of Education approving the recommendation to remain in a remote learning plan mode, each principal and program director will be sharing updates with their families by the end of the week.  We know that remaining in a remote mode means some of the other services will not be reinstated such as Young Oaks Latchkey and tuition preschool.

We have excellent mitigation and safety measures in place for when we return to in-person learning. The rise in cases and subsequent impact on the staff and families are far too great of risks to take at this time.

You can read the resolution here.

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