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A Message from the Superintendent. Michael Prior about Virtual Learning

 

To:  Banner Families

 Today I communicated with administration at Banner, Superintendents in surrounding communities, and representatives from health organizations regarding the significant growth in COVID hospitalizations and infections.  Starting tomorrow, we will have at least 16% of essential staff members absent for a variety of reasons, which includes some with positive COVID 19 tests.   We cannot safely conduct school and maintain a safe social distance with a reduced staff size.  A large number of staff members are at a breaking point to continue teaching in what can be considered a hazardous environment.

Beginning Wednesday, December 2nd, Banner Public School is transitioning to distance learning.  This will be in effect for Dec. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.  We do not know how long we will be in distance learning but we will analyze the situation each Friday to make a determination for the following week.  If the overall situation improves, we will consider returning to in person instruction. We will send notice to parents on Fridays for the plan in place for the upcoming week.

 

Rationale for Distance Learning

Staff is now at a limited number that will not allow for a safe environment during this high threat level of infection.  We have struggled to get subs for teachers. Currently we cannot fill all positions as needed.

I am very concerned about our staff members. Many of our staff members are deeply concerned about the virus. More and more are losing friends and family members. The majority of staff feel working in this increased level of possible infection is risking their health and safety.

78% of our staff now feel we should transition to distance learning. That is up from 51.7% in the last survey 14 days ago.

We currently have 2 staff members with a positive test for COVID on quarantine with a possible additional 2 awaiting test results.

Eight students are being tested and awaiting test results.

The ICU beds in the OKC metro area are at 95% capacity. This is 95% of the expanded capacity created by some hospitals repurposing some units to COVID ICU units.

Currently the area zip code for 73099 (west Yukon and surrounding area) is at number 1 for the highest infection rate in the state.

Our county numbers have gone up from 21 per 100,000 on Oct. 8th to 88 per 100,000 on Dec. 1st.

This decision is about the safety of our staff members, students, and adult patrons from contracting COVID 19 from asymptomatic or symptomatic people.

 

 

The Plan

  • Teachers and staff will work at school each day to provide distance learning lessons, meet with students individually and in groups, create videos and lesson plans.  Staff will be wearing masks and socially distancing.
  • Text and workbooks were sent home today.  If your children need anything from school, call the school office or email a staff member.
  • You may email the Banner Virtual Coordinator at stitone@banner.k12.ok.us or administration at ssmith@banner.k12.ok.us & mprior@banner.k12.ok.us for assistance and questions as needed.

Extracurricular Activities

  • At this time, remaining basketball games for 2020 have been canceled by opponents.  Banner will suspend practices until the threat level goes down.

 I know not everyone will like or agree with this plan. I am asking for your support.  This is potentially a life or death situation for some. Support of the plan, support of your teachers who have concerns about in person learning, and support for the administrators who are charged with the duty of making these decisions.  We will overcome this extreme challenge and return to normal, but for now we must all make sacrifices for the betterment and safety of our school community.

 

Thank you for your cooperation, grace, and understanding.

 Mr. Prior

Banner Superintendent