Dear parents, guardians, and B-P employees,
While I had hoped to welcome all of our in-person learners back to our schools for the start of 2021, I’m afraid the pandemic has forced me to change our plans. We will be able to bring back all students in pre-K through grade 6 who are in the in-person learning model starting Monday, but all students in grades 7-12 will continue with remote learning for at least the week of Jan. 4.
As with past decisions to shift to remote learning, this announcement comes because of COVID-19’s effect on our staffing. The main issue right now is in our transportation department, where our staff (drivers, aides, and support staff) has been reduced to less than 50% of our total capacity because of quarantine and isolation orders.
Because of this, we will be unable to provide transportation for secondary students in CTE and PTECH programs next week. The only secondary students we will be able to transport are those with special needs who are in out-of-district placements. We will continue to provide transportation for elementary students to and from school.
Despite our best efforts, I expect that staffing will remain our biggest challenge for the duration of the pandemic — not just individuals testing positive for COVID-19, but also contacts of those individuals who are subject to quarantine orders and may not report to work as usual. Let me reassure you that we continue to enforce the wearing of face coverings in our schools when social distancing cannot be maintained, and we continue to encourage frequent hand-washing or sanitation in our ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
We are continually evaluating our staffing levels and implementing creative plans to keep our doors open to in-person learners while maintaining the ability to operate safely. But we also know that, with just one positive COVID-19 test, our best-laid plans would have to be discarded. As I’ve said before, circumstances are changing by the minute, but we remain committed to communicating with our families and employees as those changing circumstances affect our regular operations.
Thank you for continuing to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and our community. I wish you and your family a safe and happy new year, and I look forward to the end of this pandemic in 2021!
Stephen M. Tomlinson
Superintendent of Schools