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This Week in Red Clay January 8, 2021

In this issue:

Red Clay Educators Nominated for LifeChanger of the Year | Red Clay Schools Add 3,000 Face Shields to PPE Supply | In-Person Learning Resumes for Red Clay on Campus Students on January 11 | In-Person and Online Learning to Continue in Third Marking Period | State Launches New School-Focused COVID-19 Dashboard | Important Health Reminders for Returning to School | Where to Pick Up School Meals Starting on January 12 | Don't Forget! 2021-22 School Choice Closes on January 13 | Tech Support for Your Chromebook | Help Keep Delaware Safe with COVID Alert DE | School Board Adopts New Policies | New Castle County School Districts Host Workshop on January 14

Congratulations to Red Clay's 2020-21 nominees for LifeChanger of the Year!

Red Clay Educators Nominated for LifeChanger of the Year

Eleven of our very own educators have been nominated for LifeChanger of the Year, a national program that recognizes educators for the positive difference they make in the lives of their students. We are so proud of these nominees, so please join us in congratulating them for this very worthy recognition!

To support their nominations—and maybe help them win the $10,000 National Grand Prize—click below to visit their profiles on the LifeChanger of the Year website and leave a comment about how they have changed lives in Red Clay.

Natalie Alexander, a third grade teacher at North Star Elementary School, was nominated by an anonymous parent of a student. "Mrs. Alexander has sparked curiosity, imagination, and love in her third grade students. She is calm, reassuring, and prepared in the worst of times during this pandemic."

Leah Faulkner, a second grade teacher at Linden Hill Elementary School, was nominated by Brooke Topor, the parent of a student. "Leah has made a huge difference for my daughter in a virtual school classroom. She is very patient with all the students and treats them like her own children. She is very calm and respectful, and she's always reminding the kids to be leaders and to be respectful."

Kelley Firko, President of the Red Clay Education Association and a kindergarten teacher at Richardson Park Elementary School, was nominated by her colleague, Ashley Jones. "She makes sure all of the students in her classroom and school feel comfortable, and she realizes the impact a safe environment has on student learning."

Irene Hairston, a middle school art teacher and PST Leader at Brandywine Springs School, was nominated by her colleague, Laura Bitzer. "She is the kind of teacher who students think about when they are adults because she made a difference in their lives."

Caroline Jeannette, a third grade teacher at Highlands Elementary School, was nominated by two students' relatives. "Ms. Jeannette has made virtual learning a positive, engaging experience. She cares so much about her students and keeping them on track with learning."

Equetta Jones, Assistant Principal at Highlands Elementary School, was nominated by Kourtney Word, the parent of a student. "I could write a book about the things she has done, not only for my family and I, but for other families and children."

Laura Martin, a first grade teacher at William Cooke Jr. Elementary School, was nominated by her colleague, Christine Saggese. "Mrs. Martin's passion for education is contagious and the true meaning of what teachers should aspire to be."

Jessica McCarthy, a kindergarten teacher at North Star Elementary School, was nominated by an anonymous colleague. "Her passion and dedication to the profession is unmatched. She returns each school year with a new drive and energy to engage our school’s youngest learners by seeking innovative ways to make learning matter."

Norine Seth, a paraprofessional at Highlands Elementary School, was nominated by an anonymous student. "Ms. Seth is the best! She goes above and beyond for all of her kids. She loves us and makes us feel special. I know she always has my back."

Nancy Smith, a mentor coordinator at Highlands Elementary School, was nominated by her colleague, Maryann McConnell. "Ms. Smith is an unsung hero at her small community school."

John Thompson, an eighth grade math teacher at Henry B. du Pont Middle School, was nominated by an anonymous student. "Mr. Thompson has taught our class really well, even through virtual learning. He is very helpful, offers help sessions, and always makes sure we know he's open if we need help with any of our work or with anything else."

Click here for lots of other fun ways you can support these lifechangers!

Red Clay Schools Add 3,000 Face Shields to PPE Supply

Red Clay's PPE supply grew significantly this week as school nurses received 3,000 face shields that were donated by Hardwire LLC last month. With coordination by Senator Coons, Nemours, Red Clay, and DonateDelaware, Hardwire LLC contributed the equipment to help Delawareans fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are grateful to Hardwire, Senator Coons, Nemours, and DonateDelaware for this generous donation," said Mandy Pennington, BSN, RN, Supervisor of Health Services. Each school nurse received 100 face shields in addition to the face shields they already have in their inventory. "We have enough for any staff member who would like a face shield to have one," said Pennington.

Thanks to the Red Clay transportation team for helping to provide an efficient PPE delivery to our many schools!

In-Person Learning Resumes for Red Clay on Campus Students on January 11

In-person learning will resume for Red Clay on Campus students on Monday, January 11, 2021. Please keep in mind that our ability to provide in-person learning depends on several conditions that may change by the day, including the number of positive cases impacting our school communities, the number of staff who may be required to quarantine, and the availability of substitute staff. Red Clay on Campus students and staff will return for in-person learning on January 11 with their current teacher assignment, school schedule and transportation arrangements that were in place before the winter break, when we paused in-person learning in accordance with Governor Carney’s Stay-at-Home order. Click here to read more in Superintendent Green's latest message.

In-Person and Online Learning to Continue in Third Marking Period

The third marking period will begin on February 1, 2021 and students will continue in Phase 2 of our phased reopening plan. Students will continue with whichever option they selected in the fall—Red Clay Online or Red Clay on Campus. The district’s operational capacity will not permit significant changes to student assignments in Red Clay Online and Red Clay on Campus. Parents and guardians should contact their child’s school if they have any questions or concerns about the third marking period. Parents and guardians with students attending special programs (Red Clay Early Years Program, Meadowood Program, First State School, autism support classrooms, and Project Search) should continue to communicate with school administration regarding students’ learning needs. Click here to read more in Superintendent Green's latest message.

State Launches New School-Focused COVID-19 Dashboard

On Tuesday, Governor Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) launched a new school-focused COVID-19 dashboard that offers a look at In-person Contagious School Cases since September 1, 2020. According to the new online reporting tool, Red Clay has had a total of 49 student cases and 61 staff cases since September 1, 2020. Please keep in mind that in-person learning did not begin in Red Clay schools until October 19, 2020. Per the DPH, it is important to note that the source of infection of these cases cannot be attributed to schools, nor is it known that they are the source of infection to others in schools. Unlike the original gating criteria, the new metrics do not offer districts a threshold of community infection rates that could trigger school closure.

Red Clay leadership will continue to strive to keep in-person learning opportunities available as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, while also understanding the delicate balance that it takes to ensure that we keep our community safe.

Decisions about school closures will be made on a case-by-case basis. School nurses continue to monitor the daily impact of the virus. As soon as we become aware of a new/suspected case, state health officials are alerted, contact tracing begins, school communities are notified and individuals deemed close contacts receive communication from health and/or school officials.

We will continue to consult state health officials to assess the extent of exposure before determining an appropriate response—which could include a temporary return to remote learning for those exposed at the individual, class, grade or school level.

While our goal is to keep buildings open for on-campus learners, quarantine measures as a result of ongoing community spread will also impact decision-making processes. Considerations that may trigger a closure announcement include how many staff in a building have tested positive, are out for testing, are quarantining due to possible exposure, or have symptoms of the virus that need to be checked out; as well as the limited availability of substitute teaching staff, class monitors or other critical staff.

The key to maintaining low numbers, and keeping our children in school, continues to be taking personal responsibility for mask-wearing, hand hygiene, physical distancing and regular testing.

Important Health Reminders for Returning to School

As we prepare to welcome Red Clay on Campus students back for in-person learning on January 11, we are asking everyone to do their part in helping to ensure a safe and healthy school environment for students and staff.

Follow these 5 steps before sending your child to school.

Where to Pick Up School Meals Starting on January 12

Meals will be available to students in the evening from 5 PM to 6 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays at several locations across Red Clay. Meals are still available to all children, 18 and under, free of charge and may continue to be picked up by a parent/guardian or child.

Click below for a flyer showing all the locations and times starting on January 12.

If you need help finding the closest site to you, please call Red Clay's nutrition services team at 302.992.5580.

Don't Forget! 2021-22 School Choice Closes on January 13

The Delaware School Choice program offers expanded educational options by giving students an opportunity to apply to attend a school other than their assigned attendance zone school.

School choice applications for the 2021-22 school year are due by January 13 at 11:59 PM.

Visit our school choice page for a link to the online application, FAQs, quick tips, transportation details, policies, accommodations for students who have IEPs or 504 plans, and much more.

Choose Red Clay!

Tech Support for Your Chromebook

Chromebook issues? Our IT team is here to help! Click below for details on our Chromebook Fix-IT sites and more.

Help fight COVID-19. Download the COVID Alert DE app today!

School Board Adopts New Policies

The Red Clay school board adopted two new policies at its December 16 meeting.

Policy 4005.1 Sexual Harassment and Grievance Process establishes the process for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints alleging any action that would be prohibited as sexual harassment by Title IX.

Policy 9005 Student Representative to the School Board defines the selection, rights, and responsibilities of the student representative on the school board.

New Castle County School Districts Host Workshop on January 14

Navigating the Social Security System and Benefits for Students with Disabilities

Join the New Castle County Transition Team for a virtual workshop on January 14 from 6:30 to 8 PM.

Belinda Criddle, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Program Manager, will share helpful tips and answer your questions about the social security system and benefits for students with disabilities.

Click here to join the workshop via Zoom on January 14 at 6:30 PM. (Meeting ID: 961 3337 3314, Passcode: 663656)

For more information, please contact Jill Machemer or Deborah Shepherd from Red Clay's Office of Special Services.

For more news and announcements from Red Clay, visit redclayschools.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.