Good Evening Gibbon Nation, 

We are experiencing an exponential growth in the number of students and staff who are home ill or who have been sent home because they are ill.  Symptoms include fever, headaches, sore throats, vomiting, chills and muscle aches.  Illnesses include influenza, flu, strep throat, and COVID just to name a few.  We’ve included in this news story our current reality, concerns we have as a school district, and our steps to slow down the spread of illness in the school building.  

Our Current Reality 

  • The number of students and staff ill has grown over the course of the past two weeks.
  • Thursday, February 8th.  At 9:27 a.m., we had 60 students that were home ill. This is approximately 10% of the student population.   By 3:11 p.m., we had 71 students that were home ill.  This an increase of 11 students over the course of the day and this number represents approximately 13% of the student population. 
  • Thursday, February 8th we had 6 Teachers, 1 administrator, and 1 Para Educator out ill.
  • We are limited in the number of substitute teachers who can help and must rely on classroom teachers to cover classes. 

Our Concerns 

  • The illnesses we are experiencing lasts between 3 and 5 days.  This highlights the need to take precautionary measures.
  • We are concerned about fatigue, mental health and burnout for teachers who frequently cover classes.
  • We are concerned about keeping our certified teachers in the classroom.  We need certified teachers in the classroom to keep the school open, relieve pressure on families and working parents, and to continue the important task of teaching and learning.
  • We need to reduce the spread of illness so that children are not taking one of the illnesses home with them.  This places an additional burden of families.
  • We have members of our education FAMILY and students with health conditions that require us to protect them to the best of our ability. 

Friday, February 9th

  • Rick’s Crew – Began fogging, “bombing,” and disinfecting high concentration areas where the number of students ill has been high.  Our goal is to continue this process throughout the entire building.
  • We have ordered additional chemicals to help us combat illness and we plan to continue our efforts to disinfect areas throughout the building. 

Beginning Monday, February 12th 

  • We will begin using hand sanitizers which will be applied to students’ hands as they enter each classroom throughout the day.  Secondary teachers during their first period class and elementary teachers during morning meetings will inform students why we are taking this action. 
  • Hand sanitizers will be applied as students move through the lunch line.
  • If you do not want your child using the hand sanitizer provided by the school, they may bring and use their own hand sanitizer.  However, they must apply their hand sanitizer in front of the teacher as they enter each classroom.  Regardless, hand sanitizers will be in use beginning Monday morning, February 12th. 
  • Visitors to our building should expect the application of a hand sanitizer when the enter they building.
  • We will monitor numbers Monday, February 12th through Thursday, February 15th.  Thursday afternoon we will look at the trend line for the week to determine next steps.  If we see numbers going down, we will remove these precautionary measures.  If numbers remain the same or continue to climb, we will continue exercising these precautionary measures.  Our goal is to take this situation week by week until numbers go down. 

FINALLY – WE ARE NOT REQUIRING MASKS with the exception of cases involving COVID.  The school district follows CDC recommendations in cases that involve COVID.  

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work through this current situation.  Please visit with your children and share with them the precautions we are taking and the reasons why we are taking those precautions.  Hopefully, we begin to experiencing healthier conditions soon.

Dr. Vernon Fisher, Superintendent