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The Orting Express
Dear Parents of Students Enrolled in the Orting School District,
I hope this communication finds all of you safe and well. The disruption to all our lives caused by the COVID-19 health crisis has been profound and, I know you are seeking clarity on the Orting School District’s plan for reopening our educational programs and student support services. Orting is Open for Learning and Teaching beginning on day one, Wednesday, September 2!
As your superintendent, I am a proud father of two daughters and married to a woman whose entire career was focused as an elementary teacher. My family’s conversations centered on the following: Would I want my daughters and wife to attend school and work during this pandemic? My answer is a resounding no. I am not alone on this decision. Recently, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department provided clear, unambiguous direction to all 15 Pierce County school districts that the current pandemic is unsafe for staff and students to work and learn in our schools in groups larger than 5 individuals (4 students and 1 adult). Subsequently, the OSD Board of Directors unanimously approved that the 2020-2021 school year will begin with nearly all students in grades K-12 to be educated in a remote learning model until it becomes safe to educate children in a face-to-face model in all grades at all schools.
At this time, we are unable to speculate when it will be safe enough to open our schools for face-to-face on campus instruction. We do, however, plan to follow the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s guidelines to educate our most vulnerable students with a 4 students to 1 adult learning group ratio in our schools beginning in September. Throughout the District this summer, decision making leadership staff have centered on this dilemma, just like all parents are struggling with the hard news that the current global pandemic infections, hospitalizations, and mortality rates are significantly alarming. This is the reason for our very cautious high priority and recommendation that it is in the best interest and safety of all students and all staff to work and learn in very small groups (as described above) or a remote teaching and learning environment from home for the majority of students and staff.
I have some exciting news to report that parents, guardians and students, for the first time, will be able to access The Orting Express which is currently under construction. Research has clearly demonstrated that the positive relationships, regular and timely communications, and bond between parents and students including the classroom teacher is of paramount importance for student academic success. The Orting Express feature will allow families and students to directly connect with classroom teachers, counselors, academic support, nurses, technology support, library services, nutrition services, athletics, etc. We hope to add a variety of support features over time that will allow parents and students to select the kind of help and support in a wide selection of choices. Stay tuned for more information about The Orting Express which is currently under construction.
A reminder: Be sure to complete and return the digital survey that was sent to you earlier this week. Your interests and opinion are vitally important for our school district.
Dr. Tony Apostle, Superintendent