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Communication from Superintendent McGilvery

January 19, 2022

Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students and Families,

Face-to-face learning environments are important for students to learn and thrive. To support our students and staff in providing that invaluable learning environment, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is piloting a new program called MI Backpack Home Tests. This program provides a limited number of free, at-home COVID-19 antigen tests to students and staff in Michigan’s schools during the 2021-2022 school year. This pilot program offers one more tool to create a safer environment for students, staff, and families.

Staff and families who opt into the MI Backpack Home Tests program will receive one test kit, which includes two at-home tests. The at-home test entails a simple swab, less than one inch into the nostril. Test results are available within 15 minutes. Testing is not recommended for staff or students who have recovered from confirmed COVID-19 in the past three months and remain symptom-free. Any staff or student that has symptoms of COVID-19 should still isolate at home.

MI Backpack Home Tests is an optional program that our district has chosen to make available to staff and students. If you wish to participate, you will need to complete a short on-line survey prior to picking up a test kit. Chomebooks will be available in the main entrance at Carman-Ainsworth High School on Thursday, January 20, 2022, 12 noon – 6:00 p.m. You can enter the building, complete the online survey, and as you exit the building you will be provided one test kit. Test kits will be available on a first-come basis. As a reminder, Carman-Ainsworth Schools will continue to require universal masking of students and staff, regardless of vaccination status while indoors and on district transportation.

The health and safety of our school community is important to us all. COVID-19 testing for staff and students is just one of many ways our school is working to help keep our school community safe from the virus. Wearing masks, washing hands often, maintaining social distance wherever possible, and getting staff and students vaccinated all remain important safety measures. We are excited to offer the MI Backpack Home Tests program to you as one extra layer of safety.

Thank you for your partnership and support.

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

January 11, 2022

Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students, and Families,  

We appreciate the work of our staff, students, and families to support each other during this challenging January. We continue a strong commitment to having our students and staff together for in-person learning, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is important to understand the tremendous amount of work administration has put into managing cases, outbreak containment, and continuing the priority of having our schools open for students and staff; however, we could not do it without your support. 

COVID Update

As the community continues to experience a dramatic rise in the numbers of COVID cases we are maintaining our COVID protocols, including universal masking for students and staff. Over the past week, the CDC announced changes to isolation and quarantine timelines and other COVID protocol details. We continue to work closely with the GCHD and will update our protocols once a revised Toolkit is received.

Due to a shortage in testing kits, the district is suspending testing for staff and students. Although orders have previously been placed, COVID tests, like many other products facing delays and shortages, have been limited by supply chain shortages. Once supplies have been replenished, we will resume testing.

Transportation Interruptions

Unfortunately, it has been necessary to suspend bus service for multiple routes. The ongoing labor shortage of drivers along with the additional challenges tied to the current surge in COVID cases has resulted in this action. We want to thank all families who have shown kindness and understanding in the face of tremendous inconvenience. We appreciate your continued patience as we partner to work through these unfortunate situations. While we work to notify families as soon as we possibly can, these situations can at times change rapidly, and we apologize for the lateness of some notifications.

We would also like to applaud those bus drivers and bus aides who work every day to safely transport our students. We are fortunate they are so dedicated to our students and families.

On-Line Learning

We understand that some students and families may want an online option; parents should contact their building principal by Friday, January 14, 2022, if they are interested in switching to an online learning platform. Space is limited, and families must commit to the program for the entire 2nd Semester, which begins January 24, 2022.

Voicemail Upgrade

We are in the process of upgrading our voicemail system and as part of that process, voicemail district-wide is unavailable. The phone system is not affected by this upgrade; we can make outgoing calls and receive incoming calls. We apologize for this interruption; however, we are excited about this update to the district communication system.

The encouraging news is that vaccination and boosters have been successful in protecting against serious illness and hospitalization. We understand that we will likely continue to face challenges caused by the sheer volume of spreading illness and related absenteeism over these upcoming days of January. We will continue to prioritize health and safety as well as having our students and staff learning together in school, and we will use every tool available to meet the challenges we face.  

The most important ways that our staff, students, and families can help to support this critical effort to keep our schools open is to maintain universal masking, ensure vaccination and boosters and to monitor daily for any symptoms and remain home while symptoms persist, regardless of vaccination status. 

Thank you for your partnership and support.

 

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

January 3, 2022

Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students and Families,

I hope that you have enjoyed a safe and healthy winter break. We are sharing an update as we all prepare to welcome the new year and gear up for a strong return to school in January.

The health and safety of our students and staff continue as our top priority. We also continue to prioritize daily, in-person learning. We are using all the tools we have implemented and refined during this past year to maintain the priority of critical in-school learning for our students.

Carman-Ainsworth Schools will return for in-person learning on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 data and addressing the impact of the current surge of positive cases on staff and students and will make adjustments as necessary.

Over the past week, the CDC announced changes to quarantine timelines. However, school districts have been advised to wait for school-specific updated guidance before making any protocol changes. We continue to work closely with the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) as well as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and will update our COVID-19 protocols as necessary, once special guidance for PreK-12 schools is received.

As the winter surge of positive cases continues to increase in our community, more will be required from all of us. We will need to take additional steps to support the health and safety of our students and staff at school; we are asking for your help in this important effort. Working together has never been more critical to continue in-school learning for our students.

  • Vaccination continues to provide the best protection against getting COVID-19, spreading it, and experiencing severe symptoms or hospitalization.
  • Carman-Ainsworth Schools will continue to require universal masking of students and staff (as medically tolerable), regardless of vaccination status while indoors and on district transportation, until further notice. We have consistently practiced universal masking throughout this school year; mask use has been proven to substantially reduce transmission in school settings. Families, please reinforce the importance that your child properly wear a mask over their nose and mouth every day.
  • Monitor closely for COVID symptoms, remain home when experiencing symptoms and if possible, consider COVID testing prior to return to in-school learning. The COVID-19 Response Team continues to offer quarantined students testing at the high school, middle school, and Rankin Elementary School before school begins; contact the main offices for times and locations.

During the coming days, obtaining vaccinations and boosters for as many individuals as possible and ensuring our diligent practice of COVID-19 health precautions will support the continuance of in-school learning through this winter.

We understand for some parents and families, the increased risk of COVID transmission associated with the spread of the Omicron variant may prompt a move to a virtual learning setting. We will share more information over the coming days regarding opportunities for those students and parents who may prefer to learn virtually for the 2nd Semester of the school year.

We appreciate the joint efforts and hard work of everyone in support of our students and staff; we know we are stronger when we work together. The continued outpouring of grace, compassion and care demonstrate our commitment to the staff and students of Carman-Ainsworth Schools.

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

December 22, 2021

Dear Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students and Families,

As we close out 2021 and look toward winter break and the new year, we would like to take a moment to express our appreciation and gratitude for our staff, students, and families. This pandemic has been extremely challenging, but we are so encouraged by the many ways we have supported each other.

Unfortunately, cases and hospitalizations are rising in Michigan. With so much virus circulating, new cases are impacting many individuals and families in our community. We strongly encourage everyone to take precautions during the holidays. Get vaccinated or boosted, stay home if you are sick, limit the size of holiday gatherings, wear a mask indoors and around others, social distance, and wash your hands.

We are optimistic that vaccination rates will continue increasing, which also means fewer interruptions to in-person learning. Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine if exposed. While we hope local spread declines quickly, we are grateful that vaccinations now provide significant protection we did not have during previous surges.

As a reminder, Carman-Ainsworth Schools will continue to require universal masking of students and staff (as medically tolerable), regardless of vaccination status while indoors and on district transportation, until further notice. We believe this requirement provides the safest possible environment for our students, staff, and families currently.

When we return following winter break, we will have three weeks until the end of the first semester. Between now and when we come back to the school on Tuesday, January 4, we want to wish you and your family a restful, relaxing, and healthy winter break. Take time to be with family, loved ones and friends. Enjoy the time away from school and work. Get ready for 2022 and to make a strong finish to the 1st Semester!

As always, thank you for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

December 13, 2021

Dear Carman-Ainsworth Families,

Since March 2020, Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools has been committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff. We have all experienced the ups and downs of the pandemic. But through it all, our decisions have been based on the most recent guidelines from the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and county-wide data. I share the following regarding current COVID-19 information:

  • Although the GCHD has removed its mask mandate effective December 22, 2021, they “strongly recommend that school districts continue to require universal masking for students, staff, teachers and visitors”. This most recent update is based on the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. The GCHD will require non-universal masking districts to adhere to different quarantine guidelines for students and staff and it will be easier to keep students in classrooms with universal masking.
  • Due to the circulating of highly contagious variants, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • The MI Safe Start Map reports the state-wide Risk Level as High and the data for Genesee County reveals a continued increase in cases, especially in children.

We continue to face many challenges as we enter the holiday season and have significant concerns around the spike in COVID-19 cases we are experiencing in our community. As we take the critical next steps to ensure our shared priority to maintain our schools as healthy and safe places for our students and staff to gather and learn each day, I am communicating the following mask guidance for all Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools programs and services, in all buildings:

With the Risk Level of COVID-19 cases in Genesee County remaining high and knowing that many of our families experience special health considerations, Carman-Ainsworth Schools will continue to require universal masking of students and staff (as medically tolerable), regardless of vaccination status while indoors and on district transportation, until further notice. I believe this requirement provides the safest possible environment for our students, staff, and families at this time. As has been the case in all our decisions throughout the pandemic, we will remain fluid in making changes/updates as warranted.

Sincerely, 

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

December 8, 2021

Dear Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students and Families,

We have been notified that following the investigation into the report of threatening posts against Carman-Ainsworth Middle School last week, students have been arrested and will face charges. Along with facing criminal charges, the district will pursue discipline following our Student Code of Conduct.

As I previously stated, although the threat was not credible, it created fear and anxiety in our schools and community and caused a severe disruption to our learning environment. Each incident consumes the resources of both administration and law enforcement. These behaviors are unacceptable, and consequences will be applied to the fullest extent, including expulsion and prosecution.

Our district puts the safety of our entire school community as the top priority. Teaching our children that words can have very serious consequences is a shared responsibility. Clear expectations need to be communicated to our children about the things they say and the things they post on social media. Any social media posts that suggest violence or harm, and verbal exchanges of a similar nature, should not be considered “jokes or funny” and will not be tolerated by our families, our school community, or our law enforcement partners.

Anyone can and should report threats to administration, police, or any staff member. Additionally, reports can be made anonymously through the statewide confidential reporting tool OK2SAY:

Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)

Email: OK2SAY@mi.gov

The administration acted immediately and appropriately regarding this incident, and we will continue to cooperate with the Metro Police Authority and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns at cmcgilve@carmanainsworth.org.

Sincerely, 

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

December 5, 2021

Carman-Ainsworth Families and Staff,

We know that many of our students and staff are feeling very emotional and anxious
about last week’s tragedy. Thursday was a very trying day filled with concerned
reactions from students, staff, and parents. I am extremely thankful and proud of our
staff and students for their leadership and perseverance during these past few days.
Many staff have put in extraordinary efforts to navigate these very challenging days.

As with several other districts across the county, we encountered social media posts
with threats made to Carman-Ainsworth Middle School on Thursday. Although the
threats were not substantiated, Carman-Ainsworth decided to cancel classes Friday,
December 3, along with all other county public schools.

Our local police departments have been busy investigating many social media posts
that have been circulating since the tragedy in Oxford. While the Carman-Ainsworth
threat was not determined to be credible, it is still considered a school threat in that
it created fear and anxiety in our community.

It is disappointing that a threating post was created and that students chose to share
this post on social media causing fear and panic in our school community.
Fortunately, there are serious legal consequences for their actions. I encourage all
parents to talk with their children about the seriousness of making or sharing threats
on social media.

We are planning to resume classes on Monday, December 6, 2021. We know that
being together our students and staff can provide support and empathy as we move
forward. The safety and security of our students, staff, and entire community remain
our highest priority and we will continue to work collaboratively with students,
families, law enforcement, and community partners to maintain safe learning
environments.

These are challenging times, and we can all draw support from one another as a
community. We gain strength from collaboration, communication, kindness, caring,
respect, and love from all our stakeholders. Thank you for your daily acts of
compassion, support, and selfless service.

Sincerely,

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

 

December 2, 2021

Carman-Ainsworth Families,

The Metro Police Authority of Genesee County and Carman-Ainsworth Middle School administration have been receiving and jointly investigating numerous reports of threats on various social media platforms that include Carman-Ainsworth Middle School. We have received dozens of screen shots from students, staff and parents referencing the same threat. We have spoken to numerous students who have shared these posts; however, no one can identify the original source of the threat.

Parents: Please assist us by advising students to stop posting and sharing these messages.

We are asking any parent or student who has information that would identify any individual, by name, a person responsible for these posts or messages to contact Carman-Ainsworth Middle School at 810-591-6208.

Based on the investigation by the Metro Police Authority, it has been determined the threat to Carman-Ainsworth Middle School, or any other school in the district, is not credible.

Although the threats are not substantiated, Carman-Ainsworth Schools will be closed tomorrow, Friday, December 3, 2021.

Making threats to shoot up a school is a crime. Sharing and posting unknown threats is extremely traumatizing to a community already traumatized by a very real tragedy. Please speak to your student and reassure them that law enforcement will investigate every threat and take whatever action is warranted to protect this community.

Please know that reported claims to shoot up a school are being made at school districts across the state, tying up law enforcement assets and disrupting school operations, while causing further trauma to already hurting and upset students and families.

We recognize this is an emotional time for all of us and appreciate everyone’s efforts to support one another.

Sincerely,

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

 

December 1, 2021

Carman-Ainsworth Staff, Students, Families and Community,

As you are aware, there was a school shooting yesterday at Oxford High School. During this difficult time, our thoughts remain with Oxford students and staff who were impacted by this devastating event.

We understand news of this nature so close to home can be difficult for both parents and students. Please know that your student’s safety and well-being remain our number one priority. Like all school districts, Carman-Ainsworth is committed to creating a safe school environment where students can learn and grow.

To that end, we wanted to remind you of the various safety protocols we have in place to protect students and staff. Our safety measures include, but are not limited to, School Resource Officers, active shooter drills, external doors are locked during the day, classroom door quick action safety locks and mental health resources.

As the safety of our students, staff and community is of the utmost importance to us, we remind you; if you see something, say something.

While we are confident in our safety protocols, we know that we need the support of the entire community to protect the children we are privileged to serve. Therefore, we are asking that you speak to your children and urge them, or you on their behalf, to reach out to school officials directly or through the State of Michigan’s OK2SAY tip line if they hear of any potentially dangerous situations:

Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
Email: OK2SAY@mi.gov

We understand that our students, families, and staff will need support in the coming days. Please know that counselors will be available to our school community. Do not hesitate to reach out to our counselors should you or your child need support.

We remain committed to working together as a community to ensure learning takes place in a safe environment. If you have any questions, contact my office at 810-591-3205 or cmcgilve@carmanainsworth.org.

Sincerely,

Cathy McGilvery
Superintendent of Schools

 

Talking to Children About Violence tip sheet