• Alert:

    Shawnee HS/MS students in grades 7-12 will be learning remotely on Monday, September 27, 2021. This change is due to a large number of staff who will be on leave that day to attend a funeral service. There is an insufficient number of substitute teachers available to meet our needs that day which prevents us from being able to safely remain open for in-person instruction.

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Dear Clark-Shawnee Families,

Before we returned to school this year, I shared with you that our goal at Clark-Shawnee for the 2021-2022 school year was to keep our students and staff safely learning together and in-person as much as possible. Keeping our school community safe and in school remains our top priority.

Right now at Clark-Shawnee Schools, a number of our students are currently quarantined from school due to exposure to a person who has COVID-19 in school or school activities. As of today, about 18 percent of our students are in quarantine and unable to attend school. It’s clear that we are not accomplishing our goal of keeping students learning in-person.

As an educator, I know about teaching and learning. I know that having our students here at school, learning in person, is best for their educational progress. I am not a doctor or an expert in health policy. I have no medical expertise on COVID-19, pandemics, or masks. But the rules that we have been given by the state of Ohio about how to handle contact tracing and quarantining in schools are clear. If we want to keep our kids learning safely together in school as much as possible, we need to look at our options to see what we can do to reduce the number of students unable to attend school due to quarantine.

As part of that process, the Clark-Shawnee Board of Education voted tonight to take two important steps to help our staff regroup and evaluate our options:

  1. Masks or face coverings will temporarily be required for a ten-day period beginning Tuesday, September 7, through Friday, September 17 for all staff and students in kindergarten through 12th grade while at school

  2. Clark-Shawnee Schools will be closed on Thursday, September 2, and Friday, September 3, 2021. During this time, our administrative team will be reviewing our safe return plans to identify how we can keep our students safely learning in school.

Under the Ohio Department of Health’s quarantine guidance, students and staff do not have to quarantine from school if they are exposed to COVID-19 at school when a universal masking requirement is in place. 

As we have reiterated constantly over the past 18 months, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 responses are continuously evolving. Because of that, the mask requirement is a temporary measure. The Board of Education will hold a meeting sometime before September 17, 2021 to determine next steps. Like all of our board meetings, that meeting will be announced on our website at clark-shawnee.k12.oh.us when it is scheduled.

I understand that there are a lot of passionate opinions about masks among our families and in our community. This decision was not made easily or lightly. Our administration and board members arrived at this decision based on the circumstances we are seeing right now here in our district. It is the most effective way for us to keep your students safely learning together here at school. 

The temporary K-12 mask requirement will operate much like the requirements during the 2020-2021 school year. Here are a few things to clarify how we will handle masking:

  • For some students, wearing a mask at all times is not developmentally or medically appropriate. 

    • When masks are not developmentally appropriate (for example, for preschool students or students with special needs), students will be encouraged to wear masks while outside the classroom; inside the classroom, they will be encouraged but not required. A good rule of thumb is if a student can’t put on their mask on their own, they will need special consideration.

    • If your student has a medical exemption for wearing a mask, please contact your physician for paperwork about the exemption and then contact the campus principal so we can work together on solutions for your student.

  • Masks will not be required while outside, during recess, or when students are exercising in PE class.

  • Masks will be required on the school bus.

  • For athletics and band, masks will not be required during practices or matches.

  • During music classes, our teachers will follow best practices from the OMEA.

  • Masks will not be required while eating or drinking.

    • We will continue to keep seating charts for the lunchroom to contact trace exposure in the lunchroom.

  • Teachers will facilitate brief mask breaks when students need a break.

  • If students forget or misplace their masks, we will have masks available in the office.

  • We are keeping our other mitigation measures in place, including:

    • Social distancing as much as possible.

    • Cleaning and sanitizing protocols throughout the day and after school.

    • Maintaining seat charts for contact tracing purposes.

    • Following our quarantining protocols, which are aligned to the ODH and Clark County Combined Health District requirements.

    • Collaborating with the Clark County Combined Health District to keep our students and staff safe. 

    • Notifying you about cases of COVID-19 in your child’s school, class, team, or activity.

I know there will be mixed feelings and strong opinions about these steps and the difficult decisions ahead. I cannot promise that the decisions we make will always make you happy, but I can promise you that we will always make the best decisions we can to keep our students and staff safe and learning together in-person. Right now, closing school on Thursday and Friday and a temporary mask requirement are the best tools we have available to keep our students in school.

We will continue to keep you updated about our COVID-19 response and important health and safety matters at our school and appreciate your ongoing support as we work to navigate the challenges of educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Thank you,
Brian Kuhn
Clark-Shawnee Schools

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