By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
After a week of remote learning and the Thanksgiving break, grades K-8 at Oxford Community Schools are transitioning back to in-person learning this week. In a hybrid schedule from Tuesday to Friday, students with last names A-K and L-Z are attending on alternating days.
K-8 will attend school fully in-person next week, Dec. 7-11. This arrangement will not last however, as they will return to fully remote learning the week of Dec. 14-18, ahead of the holiday break.
Oxford High School will operate on a similar schedule over the next month, although they cannot return to in-person learning prior to Dec. 9 because of state health order. As such, there will be no hybrid transition period. Grades 9-12 will return to in-person learning for the rest of the week, Dec. 9-11. Like the lower grades, they will be back to fully remote the last week of the semester, Dec. 14-18.
The week of remote learning is designed to avoid quarantining anyone in the school community over the break. It will also give everyone a full week to monitor for any symptoms before visiting loved ones.
The holiday break lasts from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3. The first day back, Monday Jan. 4 will be remote for all grades. Then all grades will return to school on the hybrid schedule for the rest of the week. All grades will be back in-person Monday, Jan. 11.
Of course, this schedule is subject to change at any time. “I have heard loud and clear from our community and employees that people do not like last minute changes,” Supt. Tim Throne wrote in a Nov. 20 communication. “I apologize. Unfortunately, the only thing I know for sure, at this point, is that our planned schedules will in all likelihood have to change. Even more so, this fact should not preclude us from communicating our plans that we know of today so we can all try our best to prepare accordingly.”
Throne added that they will “communicate any changes as quickly as we are able in the future.”
On Dec. 1, new school guidelines from the Oakland County Health Division went into effect, updating more specific criteria for quarantining students and staff based on symptoms.
Now, students and staff will enter the attendance protocol for suspected COVID-19 illness if they experience ONE or more of the following symptoms (unrelated to a pre-existing condition): new (persistent) cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or new loss of taste or smell.
Or, if students or staff exhibit TWO or more of the following symptoms fever, headache, diarrhea, chills, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, muscle aches, fatigue, congestion or runny nose. (Anyone exhibiting only one of these symptoms will still be asked to leave school to monitor symptoms at home. They may return to school after being 24-hours symptom-free, without COVID testing.)
To return to school, they will need proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test AND be symptom free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications). Otherwise, they will be excluded from school until 10 days have passed since symptom onset AND they are symptom free for 24 hours. The PCR test is the standard test recommended by the CDC. Rapid (antigen) test results will no longer be accepted.
The attendance protocol will no longer allow parents to submit only an alternate diagnosis to return because having one illness does not preclude someone from also having COVID-19. As such, even with an alternate diagnosis, the schools still require a negative COVID-19 test, unless a doctor’s note specifically states that testing is not recommended.
All household contacts will be excluded from school and district buildings while COVID-19 test results are pending. If test results are positive or if symptomatic person does not get tested, household contacts are to quarantine for 14 days from last known exposure.