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Important Message from Superintendent Matt Shanafelt

Dear Flushing Community School Families,

I am hopeful that the first six days back from break have been good ones for all of you. As you may be aware, our transition back to school on January 5th has brought with it a number of challenges for our school district, impacting both our students and our staff members. First and foremost, we continue to see a rapidly increasing number of Covid positive students and staff members every day. This has resulted in an extraordinary amount of contact tracing in all of our buildings, resulting in an extremely high number of students that have the option to “test to stay”. Today, we tested nearly 500 students per the protocols in place for schools without a mask mandate in order to fulfill our “test to stay” obligation and that number continues to increase every day. 

At this point, it is crystal clear that neither the necessary contact tracing (using 6 feet, instead of 3 feet) or the testing is sustainable at these high numbers. What is even clearer is that if we continue to trend in the direction that we are with positive cases, we will quickly not have the necessary staff to keep students in school, which is incredibly important to all of us. While “at home” or “out-of school” spread remains dominant, there are an increasing number of examples of in-school spread amongst our students and staff members since our return from break, which is of great concern. 

In order to maintain a sustainable close contact tracing and testing system, as well as give our school district's students the best chance of remaining in person, as opposed to remote, we are reinstituting the mask requirement for K-12 students and staff at this time. This requirement will start tomorrow, Thursday, January 13th, and will remain in place through Friday, February 11th, 2022. We will re-evaluate it and communicate any change by that time.   

Our school staff has worked incredibly hard to make this year as normal as possible for all of our students. With the expiration of the GCHD mandate, we were hopeful that we would be able to simply “strongly recommend” masks. Unfortunately, the explosion of cases in our community, the expectations for contact tracing and testing, the rapidly rising number of Covid cases in our buildings, the prevalence of in-school spread, clearer guidance from the GCHD, as well as the real possibility that we will not be able to sustain in-person schooling without a change in the current trend of positive students and staff members, we simply cannot continue to do what we are doing. 

With additional quarantine, isolation, testing, and mask guidance coming out regularly from MDHHS and the GCHD, we will continue to communicate any impact of that guidance to our students and families as soon as possible. Our ongoing goal is to keep our kids in school five days a week, as physically and mentally healthy as possible, and we are making this decision with that at the forefront. 

Thank you for your ongoing support, understanding and flexibility as we navigate this ongoing and changing situation.

Sincerely,

Matt Shanafelt

hands typing on a keyboard from the desk of Matt Shanafelt, Superintenden Flushing Community Schools