Message from the Superintendent

  • Proactive Public Message Regarding Operational Capacity of Schools During COVID Surge 


    January 12, 2022

    Dear Laurel Families,

    I’ll start off this letter with a clarifying message:  The Laurel School District will do everything possible to maintain in-person learning, as we are aware of how important it is for our students—not just academically, but socially, physically, and emotionally as well.

    However, due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, I need to ensure that all of our families are regularly informed should there be a need to transition to virtual learning—at any of our schools—due to operational capacity issues.

    What is Operational Capacity?

    Operational Capacity simply means having enough staff on hand, per day, to do a school’s most essential functions. 

    A school reaches its operational capacity limit when the number of absent staff is more than the number of available substitutes. 

    And to be clear, “available substitutes” during this pandemic includes all possible staff within a school who, under normal circumstances, would not be substituting, such as:  counselors, para professionals, specialists, teachers, deans of students, and administrators. 

    Can Operational Capacity Issues Impact More than Classroom Teaching?

    Operational capacity impacts all aspects of a school system.  However, the three most concerning—the three that could most readily prompt a transition to virtual learning are—Classroom Teaching, Busing, and School Nutrition

    Although a sudden shift in available bus drivers and/or nutrition workers could—by itself—cause a transition to virtual learning, for the purpose of this letter, we will focus on our most pressing staffing concern—classroom teaching. 

    Operational Capacity Levels Per School

    Over the course of the next few weeks—the time when the surge is expected to be at its greatest strength—I will post the operational capacity levels for Classroom Teaching for each of our schools.  I will do this daily. 

    This initial communication has this week’s up to date operational capacity levels shown below. 

     

    Daily Operational Capacity

     

    To be clear, if a school reaches RED, this means that its operational capacity is being stretched to its limit. 

    If a school reaches RED it DOES NOT mean that the school is definitely going to transition to virtual learning.  What it does mean is that school’s teaching capacity will be deeply monitored and evaluated to determine if capacity issues are expected to continue. 

    For example, although LMS reached RED yesterday, Tuesday, January 11, after monitoring and exploring the situation more deeply, we were confident that operational capacity would improve for today, Wednesday, January 12, as not ALL absences are COVID-related. 

    What Happens If a School Must Go Virtual?

     

    Virtual Learning FAQs

    Going Forward

    Going forward, community members may find the Daily Operational Capacity Levels of Schools on the district’s website on the COVID updates page, which can be found here:  Daily Operational Capacity of Schools

    Concerned About Your Student Attending School During COVID Surge?

    If you have concerns about your student attending school during the next few weeks during the COVID surge, please contact our Lead Nurse, Denise Parsons, RN at 302-875-6130. 

    Appreciation

    I’ll end this message the same way I began it—by ensuring our parents that The Laurel School District remains committed to in-person learning. 

    We have seen, firsthand, how much more beneficial in-person learning is to the academic development, the social emotional development, and the physical and nutritional health of our students.  And we will do as much as we can, as long as we can, to protect in-person learning at all of our schools during this surge.  

    I appreciate all of you for your support and understanding.  On behalf of The Laurel School District and the Laurel School Board...thank you. 

     

    Sincerely, 

    Shawn Larrimore, Ed.D.

    Superintendent of Schools