Teachers as Shepherds

Teachers are shepherds and during adversity we all bring the flock in close, finding comfort in our community and connectedness.  

Some 40 years ago, In 1982, I graduated from college and started my first job as a 4th grade teacher in Washington State.  Dr. Dick Weathermon, the superintendent who guided me into my first job and asked me to take over for a teacher who had departed on extended leave and would not return due to significant health issues.  I took over a class of 34 fourth graders who felt abandoned and alone, not understanding what had happened to the start of their school year.  Less than six months later, we would mourn together the passing of their teacher.  We each found voice in our journey, learning through pain and confusion, and finding resiliency in our shared survival.

I remember how, in this foundational year for me and them, we shared in our growing.  I was as green as you can be in your first year as a teacher, barely out of my student-teaching experience and much to learn.  But, Dr. Weathermon suggested, as he hired me, that I would be embarking on a journey, not taking a job.  He told me at the time that teaching was like being a shepherd and I would find myself often looking upon my “flock,” guiding them, nurturing them, and protecting them from harm.  Those words resonate with me today as we reflect on our challenges and our most recent devastating loss.

Iga

Iga Kielczewska-Skoczylas was a precious member of our community, and we are working hard to find ways to express our grief, keeping her sparkle in our hearts and memories, now and always.  We are all shepherds in this way, guiding, protecting, cherishing, and remembering. 

You’ll find herein, messages from principals about how we will proceed with this work of fellowship and care.  Our appreciation for all the messages of support for the family.  As the week continues, more opportunities to participate in important healing activities will become clear.  Please reach out if there is anything else we should be considering.

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all the best in the upcoming holidays! Whether celebrating the inspiration of good will toward men, or the many elements of family and cultural from your home, please let me offer my collective “hug” to the community and wishes for time to celebrate family and renewal. With the coming of the new year, we always reflect on our hopes and dreams. May the coming new beginning be filled with earnest optimism for both things lost that we hope to regain along with things earned and cherished that we hope to retain. May you find the joy and gladness found in the warm embrace of those who love and care for you!

Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

After the Break

We have crystalized our schedule for returning to school in January. Here’s the basic schedule for re-entry testing for students:

  • Saturday, January 8, 8:00a to 4:00p
  • Sunday, January 9, 12:00p to 4:00p
  • Monday, January 10, 8:00a to 4:00p

Sign-up for these dates opens in PowerSchool starting tomorrow, so you can book your appointment well ahead of time. It will remain open throughout the break to schedule as you are able. We’ll send a reminder in the days prior as well.

Please watch for any other announcements of update through the break, which will be sent as we learn more about all factors to be considered.

Testing at School on Friday

We had a survey for pre-signup for travel based testing on Friday, December 17th. Notification of times associated with that survey have been sent to those individuals and thank you for helping us to determine staffing levels for the day. We have additional capacity on the day between 10:00a and 3:00p, so additional individuals are welcome to come during those times.

Epixpert is offering three services on the day:

  • Paperwork for student regular testing – you need to request this from Epixpert and they can provide confirmation of negative test based on student normal testing. There is no fee for this service, but you must request in advance and we must know if students need to be tested on Friday rather than their normal day on Thursday, where applicable. Documentation for travel can be provided.
  • Antigen Testing – Can be provided on demand. Results and paperwork confirming negative test are provided as part of the service and will be available same day.
  • PCR Testing – Can be provided on demand. Results will be available next day and can be downloaded with the information provided.

If you have other requests, you need to contact Epixpert directly by speaking to them in our main lobby tomorrow between 8a and 10a. You can also consult the information on their website for other options: https://www.epixpert.org

The Holidays are Upon Us

A shout of thanks to all who have been busy decorating our facilities to put us in a bit of festive spirit. Many thanks to PTO for their amazing work in all of our entrances and areas, brightening our days with decoration and holiday cheer. A big shout out as well to our Facilities and Maintenance Division for their efforts with lighting outside and inside the school and all of the additional efforts to make our campus capture the spirit of the season!

We have a few days remaining before we head off into the long holiday vacation. We’ll do what we can to tie up all of the loose ends before we take another well deserved break.

Vaccination – Ages 5-11

We have confirmation that vaccine rollout for Ages 5-11 is set for Wednesday, December 15. Based on meetings today, we believe we can be ready and would keep the 16th as a backup date in case of any unforeseen problem. The sign up for vaccination is still open and you need to pre-register. We’ll send everyone a confirmation of time on Monday to get ready for our day. Here is the open form (deadline is Friday):

https://forms.gle/yLSqvvdtGcumaanB8

Testing on December 17

The form for showing interest in COVID testing at school on December 17 is still open so that Epixpert can plan their staffing accordingly. Documentation for student testing can also be provided, but please fill out the interest form for the whole family so that work load can be estimated. The form for showing your interest is here (deadline is Monday):

https://forms.gle/Pan4u1jmwkQC6oB76

We will not be open for testing after Friday. While we will maintain a minimized schedule for testing of staff during the vacation, we will not be open for public testing. Testing is generally available and you can also fine convenient options for testing with Epixpert via their website: https://epixpert.org/store/

Planning for After the Vacation

We currently have a draft plan for after the vacation and would like your feedback before confirming this plan next week. With your feedback, we’ll begin set up of our usual systems and Crisis Team will review your input before confirming.

We plan to have full school re-entry testing as would normally be the case. Currently this plan would include family-based testing appointments for students starting on Saturday, January 8th, and Sunday, January 9th. Students who are green in OK4School based on weekend testing could return to school on Monday, January 10th.

We would also have testing available for students all day on Monday, but those testing on Monday would not be able to return to school until Tuesday morning. After that, we return to normal re-entry testing for any remaining students on a daily basis between 8a and 10a.

Under current status, we would continue twice per week testing during the first week back, so the second test would be on Thursday and Friday for the whole school.

We welcome your thoughts and would appreciate your comments on our feedback form. I’ve added a question temporarily for this about our return from vacation plan for your input. That form is here:

https://forms.gle/Ei8kQQ8gicDQ7wNZ9

Previous Booster Event for Adults

After a problem with the Polish registry system, 99% of the records from our booster shot event are now in the system. The staff at Vaxmed apologize for the delay while the system was done, but all is now done. Please reach out to Vaxmed if you need any further assistance on documentation of this prior event.

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