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Vandalia, Ohio 45377

937 898 5104

937 454 4790 fax

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405 E. National Road
Vandalia, Ohio 45377

937 898 5104

937 454 4790 fax

The child has one intuitive aim: self development

Mr. O’s Weekly News

September 23, 2021

Hello Falcon Families!

Before the crux of my letter, I want to highlight a few things, so they are not missed:

  • No School tomorrow, Friday 9/24/21, as the school is closed for Teacher Professional Development.
  • At-Home Learning Survey: Please see below for details.
  • School Town Hall Meeting will be Thursday, September 30th in the School Cafeteria starting at 7:00 pm. More details will follow next week.

I know this is a long letter.  Please read this one thoroughly.  We are having a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday and it would be nice if we were all on the same page going into that meeting.  Things have moved quickly during the last two weeks and I know some things were missed.  I apologize if some of the below information is redundant.   

I corresponded with many of you this week via email, phone, and Google Meet.  Thank you for your time.  As a result of those conversations, I would like to clarify some things, but also update you on a few new items.

  • First, I want to sincerely apologize for not facilitating a broader conversation with you about masking before making our decision.  At the time, I thought my conversations were sufficiently broad and deep, but some of you have indicated I fell short on that goal.  For that, I am sorry.
  • What do I mean by broad and deep?
    • Parent discussions about Covid-19 and masking restarted in the middle of the summer, so the ’21-22 discussion has a longer history than may be obvious.  
    • These discussions continued throughout August and September and increased with vigor each week.
    • As my newsletters focused more and more on Covid and masking, I talked with more and more parents on both sides of the masking issue.
    • We then did a masking survey.  As I mentioned in my September 3rd letter, the results were 54% in favor of not masking.  The survey, however, wasn’t a vote where the winner was allowed to set school policy.  It was simply a barometer to confirm or challenge what I had been hearing in my parent conversations.  The reality was and continues to be, that our school community is split down the middle on the issue of masking. 
    • After processing all of the above, I did not think a town hall meeting would add to our knowledge base and, therefore, it would not impact our decision-making process.  Conversations on both sides were becoming repetitive and I thought I had heard all there was to hear from both sides.  Nonetheless, I put a Town Hall Meeting Survey in my September 17th letter.  We received very few responses.  In my September 19th letter, I stated the survey would remain open through the weekend.  We received 19 responses in total.  Nine said they did not want a meeting.  Three were indifferent and seven wanted a meeting.  Of the seven, four were already engaged in individual conversations with me.  Despite the survey results, I continue to hear we need a town hall meeting, so we will do that. 
      • Our first ’21-22 School Town Hall Meeting will be on Thursday, September 30th in the School Cafeteria starting at 7:00 pm.  More details will follow next week.
  • What factors were considered in making the masking decision?
    • Spread: our ’21-22 cases had already exceeded our ’20-21 total cases and we had our very first case of spread.  Spread has always been a primary metric for us because it tells us if our prevention strategies are working.  We were all proud that we had no spread last year…and now we had spread after only 4 weeks.  
    • Children’s Hospital: simultaneously, Dayton Children’s shared data that the current strain of Covid is affecting children differently than the last year’s strain.  More children are becoming infected and the infections are more serious. This is a big deal.  No matter what we thought about Covid up to now, this is new.  Children’s also announced they were at capacity and they begged school leaders to implement masking. 
      • I encourage you to listen to at least 1 or 2 minutes of this podcast.  At the 10:25 minute mark, Dr. Mezoff, Dayton Children’s CMO, talks about the differences between this year’s and last year’s Covid cases in children.  When you click on the link, you do not need to select a topic; just click the play button and fast forward to the 10:25 mark.
    • Do we think masking will prevent all spread?  No.  Do we think it can help?  Yes.  However, if we are all honest, very little is known about the new strains of Covid.  
    • 55% of schools in our Archdiocese are masking.  Not a big factor in our decision; it’s just interesting.
    • Also, interesting, Governor DeWine stated last week he would have already mandated masks, if the law had not changed preventing him from doing so.  Many people are unaware the Governor lost that power and they think this year’s Covid isn’t as serious because the state hasn’t mandated masks.
  • Who makes school decisions?
    • Fr. John has the ultimate authority over all parish and school matters.
    • Many school decisions are drafted by me and then discussed with a teacher focus group.  Sometimes, issues are also discussed with a parent focus group.  Larger decisions then go to Fr. John for discussion and approval/modification/denial. 
    • In the case of masking, I performed the described due diligence while consulting with Fr. John weekly and sometimes daily.  We then made the final masking decision together.
  • As our teachers will attest, I am not on one side of this issue or the other.  I do not see it as a conservative or a liberal issue.  I simply want our students and staff to be as safe as possible while balancing fun and freedom.
  • What about freedom of choice?  That’s complicated.  One’s freedom from masking can affect another’s right to safety.  Unintentional spread is real. This happens any time a student attends school and is unknowingly infected. Most of our ’21-22 cases spent time in school while infected and before getting tested; some as long as five days. If an unmasked student is unknowingly spreading the virus, whose rights are more important?
  • I also want to apologize for not giving you more notice.  In the future, we will not make a significant announcement on a Friday and expect it to be processed and implemented by Monday.  That was not fair and, again, I apologize.
  • I offended some parents when I said masking was the loving Christian response.  I am truly sorry, if I offended you.  I, in no way, meant to imply that if you do not support masking, you are something less than Christian and loving.  My statement was simply an explanation of the source of our decision, as many people believed our decision to be based on fear, politics, and even ignorance.
  • When will we lift our mask mandate?  Great question and a tricky answer.  It’s good to talk about goals, but we need flexibility because this is all so new.  The short answer is that we will mask for the rest of September and October, and then evaluate.  The long answer is…we would like to see zero cases of spread through October.  However, we realize masking is not a panacea, so the number may not have to be zero.  We certainly do not want to see a  significant increase in spread.  We would also like to see some data from Children’s that this wave of variant is weakening with respect to its affect on children.  It would also be nice to see our total number of cases decline, but spread is, by far, the more important metric. 
  • At-Home Learning Model: we are interested to know how many students would move to a full-time at-home learning model, if we offered that option starting Monday, October 4.  Please note the “if”.  We have not committed to implementing this idea; we are simply surveying interest.
    • More discussion is definitely needed, but it would be similar to last year’s at-home learning model.
    • It would require a large component of live streaming, but it may not be all day long like last year.  Again, more discussion is needed.
    • You would have the opportunity to enroll/unenroll each quarter or whenever we make a change to our masking policy.  If we start this quarter, it would run through the rest of the first semester, subject to a change in masking policy. 
    • To clarify, we are not asking or encouraging you to move your student to at-home learning.  We actively encouraged it last year to free up space in the school and improve social distancing, but we are not asking that of you right now.  We are simply asking if you are interested in an at-home learning model for reasons of your own. 

I look forward to a discussion about these topics and many more next Thursday.  Thank you for your continued patience and support, as we work through these difficult decisions. 

Have a great weekend!

St. Christopher…pray for us!

God Bless & Go Falcons!
Mr. O’

St. Christopher School Principal

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