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HJS Update

Posted on: October 11, 2020

Dear HJS Families,

Entering week 6 of the school year, I continue to be amazed and proud of the work our students, staff and families are putting forth to make this school year successful.  Seeing teachers try new things, students as engaged as ever, and seeing students in person and virtually is powerful.  Thank you for continuing to work with our school district as we move through the school year.


This week, our school had 54 students quarantined due to close contacts of COVID-19.  Some of the quarantine came from students in close contact at school, while others are in close contact within our community (athletics, churches, grocery stores, etc…).   We will continue to vigilantly monitor our contacts and work with the Hamilton County Health Department to help study the spread and how the illness is being passed.  We remain in daily contact with the HCHD (Hamilton County Health Department) and participate in meetings each week with them and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Many of our families have asked “if there is a tipping point” that a school, team, or grade level will be shut down.  Let me be clear, our goal is to remain open, and the Health Department has been great at working with us in this process.  Our district believes while it is very important to look at our countywide spread, we also look specifically at the zip codes that we serve and monitor them daily.  In addition, we look for potential spread within the building in making any type of decision.  Taking all these factors into account are a part of making any decisions for school closure.  Where school closure discussion gets serious is when there becomes spread within the school building.  This is why contact tracing and quarantining is so important.

Again, our goal is to remain open to serve our students and community.  It is also important to note that the Department of Health or the State could choose to shut schools down as they did in the Spring.  The best thing that we can do to keep our schools open are to wear masks (inside and outside of school), practice good hygiene (handwashing, etc..), and social distancing when possible. 

If you are in quarantine, that is not just for school.  Students should refrain from going out in public and interacting with community.  This is hard and requires sacrifice.  While we cannot control what families choose to do outside of the school day (that is not our role), it is disappointing to hear stories of quarantined students going to places like the Dent Schoolhouse, HYF Football games as a spectator, or running around and playing in close contact within their neighborhoods.  There has been a ton of efforts and sacrifices made to keep our schools open by the vast majority of our community.  We would hate for that to be ruined by a few selfish decisions.  If you are quarantined, please stay home and stay safe.  Thank you for working with us through this process.

A few key points I would like to include as well:

  1. As we approach flu season, it is as important as ever to get a flu shot if you can.
  2. If your child is sick, please keep them home. This will help stop spread and minimize students who must quarantine.
  3. If a member of your household is being tested for COVID, all members of the household should quarantine until those test results come back.  This is VERY IMPORTANT, because if a member of the household is positive, the likelihood of spread is increased.  If a student tests positive, we must contact trace back 48 hours and make a determination on who gets quarantined.  So, to give an example… Mom is not feeling good and gets a COVID test on Monday, and their son comes to school because he is feeling fine.  Mom gets a positive COVID result on Wednesday, and the doctor insists everyone gets tested in the family.  The son gets tests and is a positive (even though he is asymptomatic) we will have to contact trace and every person at school that the son was within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes total will have to quarantine.   This includes classrooms, lunch, social growth period, bus rides, and practices.

In this scenario, if the student would have stayed home Monday when Mom was getting her test, no other students or staff would be impacted.  However, the student came to school (even though they were asymptomatic) and in a typical case anywhere between 9-25 students could be impacted.

Academic Growth

This week we had the opportunity to look through our MAP results (even though we have a few students finishing up).  Overall, our students did incredible.  Our ELA scores were actually improved on from a year ago at the same time.  This is a credit to our families who continued to have students reading during quarantine, as well as our teachers who have worked hard to keep students growing each day.

Our Math scores dropped overall, but this was expected as students have not been in school for 6 months and are playing a little bit of catch up.  We are confident that we will be back up to our normal scores by the Winter administration, and in full blown growth mode by Spring.  As a principal, I could not be prouder of our teachers and students through this process.

In addition, I want to thank our teachers (especially in 6th Grade) who have been working with our quarantined students.  With so many students out, several live streamed their classes to connect with kids and this was WAY out of their comfort zone.  Thank you to the kids and families for their suggestions and supports as well as we learn with our students how to have these classes in a dual format.

We will continue to work with our families, teachers, and students to develop best practices for classrooms where students are quarantined but still able to login to class.

Finally, our conference dates for Face to Face students will take place on November 5th and November 12th.  Next week, we will communicate more specifics, but all conferences will take place through Microsoft TEAMs.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will not be conducting conferences Face to Face.  We are scheduling them on these dates because the end of the quarter is October 30th, and we will be discussing students returning to HJS Face to Face or Face to Face students who may choose to go virtual 2nd Semester.  More to come on this, including sign ups.

Virtual Students and Families

Conferences for our Virtual families will look a little different.  Weekly, students should be in communication with their Academic Coach, and our Virtual teachers are available each day.  If you would like to speak with your child’s virtual teacher, you may contact them directly through TEAMs or via email and they will set up a video conference with you. 

At the conclusion of the 1st quarter, we will be sending out communications to parents and students regarding if students will want to complete the year online or return to face to face instruction in January. For families, this is a big decision, but I must say our Virtual students and families continue to grow each day.

Virtual students will receive a report card, just as our face to face students do.  It is important that if your child is falling behind on pace or accuracy that they work with and communicate with that teacher.  We will continue to support them and help get them on track.  For many students, this is all about effort.  The students who are working hard are doing well.

This week, we will also be completing home visits to some of our virtual families with struggling students to help get them back on track.  We look forward to seeing many of you.


Social Growth

Students are continuing to do a great job with “social growth period” during the day.  We are reminding students that it is still important to social distance and “mask up” while they are outside, but it is awesome to see them racing, creating games, and speaking with each other.

This week, we saw a crop of cell phones coming out.  As a reminder, students should not be using cell phones during the day.  For most students, they will get a reminder to put it away (usually several reminders), and if they fail to comply, the phone is confiscated for a parent to pick up at the end of the day.  Typically, this resolves the issue because we have awesome parents who work with us.  Please take a moment this week and talk to your kids about cell phone etiquette.  These little reminders go along way! 

Finally, our Fall Athletic seasons wind down this week with the completion of Volleyball and Cross Country this week, and football and cheer concluded last week.  Thank you to those athletes and their families.

7th and 8th Grade students who are interested in Basketball should pick up information.  Boys should see Mr. Bontrager and Girls should see Mr. Heim.  We look forward to those tryouts coming up soon.

Thank You

Again, thank you to our families for working with us to grow as a school and community!  It never goes unnoticed!

Enjoy the Week!!!

Go Wildcats!