Superintendent’s Message

January 2, 2022

Welcome to 2022!

 

Happy New Year!

Welcome back and happy 2022! I hope you all had a fabulous break and are enjoying winter. 

News on the street is that there is this new variant of COVID called Omicron…. URGH. Yes, my tone is joking because if we can’t laugh at this point, we’re in trouble. Please know that we will continue to practice safe mitigation measures until our school and regional positivity rates level off. Remember last spring when we were shooting for a less than 3% positivity rate? Right now, we’re not even close. We are at 13.6% positivity in Leelanau County. 

We are still in yellow on our traffic light plan which means universal masking during the school day, frequent hand washing, social distancing when possible, and vaccinations for all. While nothing is foolproof, and we have all been humbled by this pandemic and the unprecedented havoc it has wreaked, the best advice we have tells us to get vaccinated, boosted, and wear a mask, so that’s what we’re doing and advocating. In the event that our school numbers continue to rise or we are unable to staff classrooms or essential services, we will be ready to move to red on our traffic light plan and potentially return to online learning. No one wants that, but we will be ready. 

For now, students participating in extracurricular activities and those who would like to test out of quarantine will continue to test on Monday mornings. ANY student wishing to test after the holiday is welcome to come in tomorrow at 7:45am (or come to the Legacy Gym when the bus arrives) to test. Because we are short-handed, we can only accommodate students and staff tomorrow, and we can only test those who have a signed parent consent form on file. So, if this is the first time your child will test, please fill out the form and send it with your student. 

As we move forward under these new normal conditions, it’s important that we focus on our central purpose - high quality teaching and learning in a culture of continuous improvement. In that spirit, we will be having a board workshop session on Saturday, January 15th to discuss strategic planning and reviving a school improvement team. Jeanne will be sharing more information about this in her weekly update on Wednesday.  It’s exciting work, and the first step will be to conduct a needs assessment, so please look for that survey link later this winter. I’d love to have 100% parent participation in providing feedback. 

Please remind your students that we are here for them!  We have caring professionals who can provide direct support as they get back into a school routine.  We will encourage their return to school with reminders to wear their masks appropriately, show up on time, do their best work, and be kind to themselves and each other. Two weeks is a long time to be away, and it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. If you have any concerns, please let us know. 

Looking forward to a brighter 2022!
Stephanie





December 09, 2021

Safety Drill Update

 

Dear Parents, 

As part of our ongoing analysis of safety plans, we will begin to practice drills that include multiple scenarios at different times throughout the day, including passing times, independent work time, during pickup or drop off, etc… I want to communicate with you regarding a safety drill we conducted today that looked different from safety drills we have conducted in the past. 

During high school lunch, our administrative team, high school teachers, and law enforcement conducted a soft lockdown drill with the high school students only. The drill was a discussion of how students might protect themselves regardless of where they are in the building in the event of a dangerous, unknown, or armed intruder. The conversation centered on their options depending on the situation and our post-incident plan. Our intention was to empower students with information and choices about how to respond and protect themselves while also reassuring them that we have a plan to protect them in the best ways we know how. We will continue to work with students of all grade levels in age-appropriate ways. 

Students responded maturely and with great insight and questions. It was clear that they were processing not just our directions,but the choices they might make in light of the tragic events of last week in Oxford. Students also requested further conversations with their teachers at the classroom level, and we met with staff this afternoon to help provide them with the language and answers students might need to hear. 

Regardless of intention or outcome of the drill, there will be students who process these conversations differently. Some will walk away feeling empowered, some will be angry, and others will be anxious. I wish we didn’t have to have these conversations with students, but we do, and we are always available to help students process their reactions and thinking. Please take some time at home to support these conversations as well. 

Most importantly, If you see something, say something. Students, families or other individuals who have information  about any potentially harmful event should immediately contact local law enforcement and school officials directly: Call 911, or report anonymously via OK2SAY. Contact OK2SAY via phone: 855- 565-2729, or text: 652729, or email: OK2SAY@mi.gov

Thank you for your continued support and care for our school community, 

Stephanie





November 30, 2021

Oxford School Shooting

 

Dear Leland Families, 

Our hearts are aching tonight for the entire Oxford Michigan School community as they grieve and process the deaths of three of their students and the injuries to eight others. No one who has or works with school-aged children is immune to the pain experienced when a school shooting occurs, and today, their pain is shared by all of us. 

These events can be scary for our students as well. When our students feel anxious or powerless, it’s important to remind them that they can and should speak up if they see or hear of a classmate exhibiting signs of distress. Their voice is powerful and can be used to get help and promote a safe and orderly school. The adults in our community are all trusted and safe resources for our students, and we investigate all reports of this nature.  

We have security procedures in place, and we practice emergency drills as part of our safety plan. These drills should be taken seriously whether they are for fire, weather, or in this case, the tragic realities of a school shooting. We work closely with our local law enforcement agencies to ensure that our school’s safety plans are as comprehensive and up-to-date as possible. 

We will hold the students and families at Oxford in our hearts and continue to support our staff and students as they process this tragic event. This is hard, and we are here if your children need us. 

Warmly, 

Stephanie





November 23, 2021

NO SCHOOL TOMORROW - Wednesday, November 24

 

Dear Comets, 

Given the health conditions in the community and the number of students out due to quarantining or positive cases, we were not able to meet our minimum attendance requirement of 75% today. As a result, we will not be in session tomorrow. We will return to school on Monday, November 29th. There will be no athletic or extracurricular activities until Monday.

Only two of the positive cases we’ve identified were due to in-school exposure. The positive cases we are identifying have been largely due to at-home, community, or social spread. We are doing everything we can at school to mitigate the spread of COVID, and we really need everyone’s help in reducing its impact on our school. The most authoritative information we have continues to urge all those eligible to get vaccinated, wear a mask, socially distance, avoid large gatherings, and wash hands frequently. 

If you are going to gather with multiple families or have been exposed to anyone with COVID over the holiday, please consider observing a period of quarantine before returning to school. 

The most common COVID symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

While we currently do not have a  provision for synchronous virtual instruction, we are having discussions around reviving at-home learning in the event our local rates continue to climb and we need to pivot to online instruction for a period of time. Having experienced this last year, we all remember the inconvenience, the less than ideal learning experience for our students, and the additional stress that at-home learning places on everyone involved in our school community. Please consider the benefits of staying in-person when making holiday plans. 

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful, and healthy Thanksgiving. 

Stephanie

En Español

Queridos Cometas,

Dadas las condiciones de salud en la comunidad y la cantidad de estudiantes que se retiraron debido a la cuarentena o casos positivos, no pudimos cumplir con nuestro requisito mínimo de asistencia del 75% hoy. Como resultado, no estaremos en sesión mañana. Regresaremos a la escuela el lunes 29 de noviembre. No habrá actividades atléticas o extracurriculares hasta el lunes.

Solo dos de los casos positivos que hemos identificado se debieron a la exposición en la escuela. Los casos positivos que estamos identificando se han debido en gran parte a la propagación en el hogar, la comunidad o social. Estamos haciendo todo lo posible en la escuela para mitigar la propagación de COVID y realmente necesitamos la ayuda de todos para reducir su impacto en nuestra escuela. La información más fidedigna que tenemos continúa instando a todos los elegibles a vacunarse, usar una máscara, distanciarse socialmente, evitar grandes reuniones y lavarse las manos con frecuencia.

Si se va a reunir con varias familias o ha estado expuesto a alguien con COVID durante las vacaciones, considere observar un período de cuarentena antes de regresar a la escuela.

Los síntomas de COVID más comunes incluyen:

  • Fiebre o escalofríos
  • Tos
  • Falta de aliento o dificultad para respirar.
  • Fatiga
  • Dolores musculares o corporales
  • Dolor de cabeza
  • Nueva pérdida del gusto u olfato
  • Dolor de garganta
  • Congestión o secreción nasal.
  • Náuseas o vómitos
  • Diarrea

Si bien actualmente no tenemos ninguna disposición para la instrucción virtual sincrónica, estamos teniendo discusiones sobre la reactivación del aprendizaje en el hogar en caso de que nuestras tarifas locales continúen aumentando y necesitemos cambiar a la instrucción en línea por un período de tiempo. Habiendo experimentado este último año, todos recordamos el inconveniente, la experiencia de aprendizaje menos que ideal para nuestros estudiantes y el estrés adicional que el aprendizaje en el hogar coloca en todos los involucrados en nuestra comunidad escolar. Tenga en cuenta los beneficios de permanecer en persona al hacer planes de vacaciones.

Les deseo a todos un Día de Acción de Gracias seguro, pacífico y saludable.

Stephanie





November 22, 2021

COVID Update

 

Dear Comets, 

We have completed our contract tracing for the three positive cases reported yesterday, and will be returning to school on Tues, November 23rd. Students needing to quarantine or test will receive communication via email. Unless you have been notified directly, you should plan to return to school tomorrow. 

Classwork for those in quarantine is available via Google Classroom for grades 6-12, and will be available via SeeSaw for students in grades 1-5. Students in Mrs. Kowalski’s classroom will hear from her directly. All teachers are available for questions or clarifications during their prep time. 

Weekly testing will resume tomorrow for athletes and extracurricular activities. Students who arrive by bus who wish to avail themselves of this testing option need to report to the Legacy gym immediately upon arrival. All other extracurricular participants currently in season who wish to test out of masking for competitions need to report to the Legacy gym by 7:45 am. First time testers need a signed consent form to test.  Late arrivals will not be able to test this week and will be required to wear a mask during play. 

Students who have already been notified that they may return to school on day 8 with a negative test on day 6 or 7 should report to the Legacy gym at 8:30 am. Please use the athletic hall entrance only and go directly into the gym. These students will leave the building immediately after they have been swabbed and will receive their test result via email. Please wait in your vehicle for your student. Their swab should not take more than 3-5 minutes. 

Our current case count can always be found at this link on our website. We report current cases, current unvaccinated quarantines, and dates of notification and posting. 

If you plan to travel or gather with mixed families and friends for theThanksgiving holiday, and you discover that anyone with whom you’ve had contact is symptomatic or positive for COVID, please contact us before returning to school on Monday, November 29th so that we can support your family and help keep our community safe. As always, please monitor your children and keep students home who exhibit any COVID-like symptoms. 

Again, contact tracing is a time intensive process, and we appreciate your patience and flexibility. 

Thank you, 

Stephanie





November 21

NO SCHOOL TOMORROW - Monday November 22

 

Dear Comets, 

I am so sorry to have to send this message tonight, but we will have a COVID snow day tomorrow. We have just late this afternoon learned of two more positive cases of COVID in school. These additional cases bring our total to 12 with dozens in quarantine. We need time tomorrow to accurately and thoroughly contact trace the classrooms and cafe seating charts for the new positive cases. 

Currently, we have students in kindergarten, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades positive or in quarantine, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. With additional cases and their siblings across grade levels, we need time to sort out who is vaccinated, who needs to test to stay in school with time to develop a plan for testing younger students, and who needs to stay home. At this point, we intend to return to school on Tuesday, and I'll let you know as soon as possible if we need an additional day off.

This process is exhausting, comprehensive, and unsettling to say the least. I hope you can understand and extend your grace to everyone who is working tirelessly to ensure that we get it right. 

Gratefully, 

Stephanie 





November 19

Good afternoon, 

This weekend you will hear news of a handful of districts in the region who will be dismissing classes next week due to the ongoing and disruptive effects of COVID on school. LPS plans to remain open at this time. 

Superintendents and health care officials across the region are monitoring several factors when making these decisions:

  • the number of positive cases among students and staff

  • the number of grade levels and classrooms impacted by positive cases

  • the number of substitute teachers and other school personnel available

  • the number of testing kits necessary to provide masked, direct contacts the daily testing option to stay in school

  • the impact of absences on the state 75% attendance requirement 

  • observations from local health care professionals about the compounding impact of an increase in influenza, the difficulties in providing adequate staffing for critically ill patients, and the increased likelihood of transmission a school environment provides

As many of you are aware, LPS was hit hard this week by the negative impact of COVID. We have had to cancel classes, teachers are sacrificing their prep time to cover classes for each other, and getting qualified subs is difficult at best. As of yesterday, our totals include:

  • 37 total LPS quarantines instigated in November

  • 8 of these are from positive staff/students

  • 16 of these are from in-school close contacts

  • 13 of these are from out-of-school close contacts 

  • 22 LPS staff or students currently quarantined

  • 175 students needing to be contact traced

Because these cases are not limited to one grade level and are spread across classrooms and activities, we are approaching a tipping point at which time we would be unable to adequately staff our building or maintain the state mandated 75% attendance requirement. There is very little flexibility for “Pandemic Days” of on-line learning as there was last year which allowed us to count synchronous instruction toward our required days and hours of instruction.

Most significantly though, a continued uptick in positive, school-associated cases of COVID or quarantines will make in-person instruction unsustainable. In the event any of these factors persist, we could be forced to close. That decision may be made at the last minute depending on circumstances. It will always be our intention to communicate in a timely manner, but we cannot control the factors that necessitate these difficult decisions. I recommend that families revisit their contingency plans for work and childcare now in the event we have to close school with little notice. 

Lastly, please consider how your family will support our goal of remaining in person when making your holiday plans. The CDC’s most recent Holiday Guidelines are linked here. Remaining in person needs to be a community-wide goal. We need you to help make this work for our students. Let’s give it an all-for-one-and-one-for-all effort. 

Thank you for your patience, your stamina, your resilience, and your support of our school community as we do everything we can to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for our students and staff. 

 Please enjoy a safe and happy holiday, 

Stephanie





Saturday, November 13

UPDATE: MASKING POLICY FOR ATHLETICS AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES 

Given the update to the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department masking mandate which allows for students to take an antigen test in place of wearing a mask while engaged in competition or performances, LPS is adjusting our masking policy. This update is for students of all ages involved in sports or performances.

The BLDHD's updated policy can be found here. An FAQ about the policy can be found here. 

The intention of the policy is not to reduce mitigation strategies being used, but rather to provide for choice among the accepted mitigation measures of masks or testing. A follow-up email with the specific details regarding testing procedures for current participants will be forthcoming from Mr. Ryan Knudsen. 

This policy applies only for those students participating in after-school competitions or performances. Mandated masking is still required for all others at all times when indoors.  

Our updated policy is as follows:

  1. Beginning Monday, November 15th, students can choose to take a rapid test once a week on Monday mornings before school with a one-time, signed parental consent form. 
    1. In-home tests do not qualify. Students must participate in school testing or provide evidence of a negative PCR test every seven days.
    2. In the event of a negative test, students can choose to participate in practice, rehearsal, competition, or performance without a mask. 
    3. All students will still be required to enter and exit the building in a mask and wear a mask on the bench or when not engaged in direct competition or performance. 
    4. Any student who tests positive will not be allowed to participate and will have to adhere to all health department guidelines regarding positive cases.
    5. Students with medical mask exemptions will still be required to test.
    6. Students who do not attend the school testing session on Monday mornings and who cannot provide a negative PCR test will mask until the following testing opportunity or proof of a negative PCR is provided. 
  2. Students who choose not to test will be required to mask at all times.
  3. Vaccination status does not impact the policy.
  4. Coaches must still be masked.
  5. Spectators must still be masked. 
  6. Visiting teams will be required to provide the athletic director, game manager, or administrator onsite with written verification that unmasked participants have tested negative within the last seven days. Verification can be provided via day-of email or written notice upon arrival and must be provided by an administrator or the athletic director from the visiting team. 

Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our school community safe. 

Stephanie






Friday, October 29

Dear LPS Parents/Guardians,

We’ve been back in school full-time for the longest run we’ve enjoyed since March 13, 2020, and it’s been fantastic to be here! The beginning of the year was lovely because everyone was on their best behavior. It felt really good. Alas, it appears as though we were on a honeymoon.

News outlets are reporting increasing levels of destruction, vandalism, and disrespectful behavior at schools throughout the country, and we are no exception to this. We’ve been experiencing behaviors that are uncharasteric for Leland Public School, and this needs to be addressed swifty, consistently, and firmly. For starters:

Vandalism in the middle and high school - kids are destroying the bathrooms, furniture, and fixtures in the classrooms. Students are required to make restitution for destruction and vandalism to school property, and we will refer offenders to the sheriff for prosecution. Malicious destruction of property is a criminal offense and will be treated as such. TikTok made this cool. Please help us help students understand that it’s not.

Cell Phone use - We are instituting a no cell phone policy during class. If you need to reach your student during the school day, please notify the office, and we’ll share messages during lunch or at the end of the day. As always, emergencies will be communicated immediately. We have a hard time understanding why any elementary student needs a phone during the school day, and we encourage families to set some very specific and limited allowable uses at school. We need elementary students to leave their phones with the main office or turn them off and leave them in their lockers.

Disorderly, unsafe, and disrespectful behavior - Focus, listening, giving best efforts, and being cooperative are consistent expectations, but we are continually having to remind students to behave. For high school and middle students it can look like ignoring directions, strolling in and out of class on their own time, texting or using social media during work time instead of working on the assigned task, fighting, using or bringing illegal substances to school, etc… For the elementary students, it can look like not being in control of their bodies, putting hands on other students, sneaky behaviors, teasing others, ignoring directions, etc… We have enjoyed an atmosphere with a considerable amount of freedom for our students, and before imposing further restrictions that would limit these freedoms, we are asking for your help in talking with your child about their responsibility to earn and protect these privileges.

Now that the honeymoon is over, we find ourselves dealing with the inevitable fallout of students having been out of the building and classrooms for an extended period of time. Many of them have forgotten how to behave in a school setting. Some efforts we are making at school to address these issues include:

1. Upper class students meeting with younger students to express their concerns, display leadership, and help reinforce the culture they have come to enjoy and expect

2. Grade level meetings with Jeanne and staff to clarify expectations

3. Limiting the use of cell phones

4. Storing book bags and backpacks in lockers throughout the day

5. A sheriff deputy visiting with grade-level groups to discuss the ramifications, consequences, and seriousness of some of the behaviors students are exhibiting

6. Staff brainstorming and planning to create consistency from class-to-class

We have great students at LPS, an incredibly skilled and dedicated staff, and an open and warm culture. Kids are inherently good, but some of them are making some bad decisions. It’s our job to help them make better ones. We know that the last 20 months have been difficult, and we fully understand and even expected some fallout. We’d like to deal with that fallout directly, consistently, and clearly in order to protect our children, our school, and our warm and open community. While we address the social and emotional wellbeing of students who have been struggling, we need to set clear parameters and hold our students to the high standards they are capable of achieving.

Thank you for your help and support and reinforcing these standards at home,


Jeanne and Stephanie






Friday, August 27

Getting Ready to Return

Good afternoon/Buenas tardes,

Para leer esta carta en español, haga clic aquí y seleccione Español en el menú Idioma en la parte superior de la pantalla.

We are busy getting ready to welcome students and staff back to school. As we prepare to return on the 7th, please be sure to check your email. While many of you are used to receiving a packet of information, we have moved to electronic communications as much as possible. The information is now being shared via email and our website. If it seems that you are missing information or updates, please check your spam folder.

It's also important to note that any time we send all school messages, we also post them online at the Principal's Message or Superintendent's Message links. Principal McClure sent out a welcome letter last week that was chock-full of important information about our return to school. It included information about teacher letters and supplies, updating school enrollment forms and contact information, meals, sports, COVID protocols, transportation, class lists (now posted!), etc... It has been posted on the website for your reference.Please pay careful attention the the school arrival and departure times and procedures.

If you have filled out the request for transportation form in Final Forms, beginning on Monday will start sending emails to the email address provided with pick-up/drop-off times and bus stop locations. We will also mail that information to the address provided in your updated enrollment forms. As we streamline our routing protocols, it is likely that something may get missed. Please be patient with us as work out the kinks, and call Mike Urbano, our new transportation director at 231-271-8601,if you filled out a request but do not receive an email on Monday. We can add in-district households to our routes.

We also have four depot stops, one at the VFW Hall, one at St. Wenceslaus Church, one at Sugarfoot Saloon, and one at O'Brien Rd just off of 641 for any out of district students who wish to ride the bus. It's important to note that we no longer have a depot stop at the Bingham Boat Launch. Students who were picked up there and along 641 south of O'Brien Road will need to get picked up at the O'Brien Road depot stop.

Please be sure that immunization documentation has been provided for all Kindergarten/Young 5students, 7th graders, and new students to Leland. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services rules state that a student cannot attend school without the proper immunization documentation on file with the school. Please visit the MDHHS website and here for more information or help. We would love to start the year with 100% compliance. Additionally, for information about the COVID vaccines and area vaccine clinics, click here.

I hope you all enjoy these last days of summer before we welcome you and your children back to school. It's an exciting time and we are eager to see you all back!

Warmly,

Stephanie




Tuesday, August 17

Good afternoon! Buena tarde!

I'm so excited to welcome everyone back for the 2021-2022 school year! As we get ready to return, I'd like to share some information that will help us all have a smooth transition for our first day with students, Tuesday, September 7th. 

Last night the school board approved our COVID return to school decision-making process which can also be found on our school's website. Please take some time to review the traffic light message.  We will begin the year in the yellow precautionary mode which means universal masking. The presentation defines each level - Standard, Precautionary, and Full Mitigation - and includes information about volunteers, extra-curricular activities, quarantine and close contacts, etc...It also provides information regarding the rationale and considerations for moving from one mode to another. 

An announcement went out yesterday from the Benzie Leelanau District Health Department, and you should have received an email from us this morning regarding a vaccine clinic to be held at Leland on Monday, August 23rd, from 3:00 - 6:00 pm. We are strongly encouraging all eligible students to get a vaccine. Sign up information is here or you can call 231-256-0200 to register.  

Additionally, we are excited to announce that we have entered into a cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay Schools for a transportation director. Mr. Mike Urbano at Suttons Bay will be coordinating our transportation routes. If you have not yet filled out the updated registration form in Final Formsplease do so ASAP. We sent a note earlier this summer asking that all families, returning and new, follow the process of updating student information via Final Forms. The transportation request is included in the updated registration/contact information form, and Mr. Urbano will be creating bus routes based on the information you provide there. If you have any concerns or questions about your child's bus route, please contact him at urbanom@suttonsbayschools.com. Routes are currently being developed, and there will be changes from last year. The most significant changes will reflect that LPS and SB will no longer be picking up students in neighboring districts, but rather we will have depot stops inside district boundaries. A letter that identifies your child's stop and pick up/drop off time will be mailed. If you have not received information regarding your child's route before August 30th and you have submitted your transportation request via Final Forms, please contact Mr. Urbano. 

Teacher welcome letters and supplies list will be posted to our school website this week. Mrs. McClure, our principal, will notify you when those have been posted. 

Last, we will be updating our website this week and redesigning it this year to to reflect the most current information in a user friendly way, including a translation feature for those who would like to access information in a different language. Our website will remain the most convenient place to find information about school. 

Para leer esta carta en español, haga clic aquí y seleccione Español en el menú Idioma en la parte superior de la pantalla.

I'm so excited to begin a new school with you. Have a wonderful August, and we'll see you on September 7th!

Stephanie Long

Superintendent

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