Greetings Mustang Families and Ennis Community,
Happy Friday! I hope that this letter finds you well and that you are all geared up for an extended weekend filled with quality family time. We are hoping that you can also kick back and relax on Labor Day!
The first two weeks of school have gone very well and I have really enjoyed the positive and energetic atmosphere created by our staff, students, and parents. However, school is still challenging with what we are faced with and surrounded by. Schools have been tasked more than ever to ensure a positive and safe learning environment. Unfortunately, hot topics are making their way into schools nationwide and creating division in my opinion. Too often schools become battlegrounds over these topics and we want to work hard to avoid that as it only hurts our kids and our school. Our main goals each and every day is to teach kids, do what’s best for kids, and to treat each other with dignity and respect. We are Ennis and we want to stay Ennis.
School Board Policy 1905, as you may already know, describes our protocols for facial coverings, cleaning, physical distancing, etc. We understand fully that this topic is very sensitive from several angles. We are following the policy that was adopted, which states that facial coverings are optional for staff, students, and visitors. Going into the school year we were not exactly sure what to expect. We have several students and staff that have made the choice to wear a facial covering and we fully honor and respect those choices. It is understood that children may feel uncomfortable wearing a mask when their peers aren’t, but our students are accustomed to folks wearing masks. We strongly encourage parents to continue to talk with their children that their choice is ok and strongly recommend that staff, visitors, and students wear a facial covering if there are concerns.
Our staff is very diligent with cleaning in between classes by wiping down desks and high touch surfaces. As students arrive in the mornings, they are greeted by staff with hand sanitizer and masks. Each classroom has a sanitizer dispenser for students and staff to utilize going into each classroom. Throughout the facility, there is adequate signage regarding COVID-19 and how to stop the spread, proper hand washing,covering coughs, etc. Physical distancing is utilized as much as our space allows. We are still cohorting students for lunch and recess throughout the day where there are designated lunch room tables for grade levels as well as designated times and areas on the playgrounds.
Please continue to consult with your healthcare provider when making decisions about vaccinations. We strongly encourage you to talk to your doctor on what is best for you and your family. If you are interested in vaccinations, there are immunization clinics coming up on Friday, September 10th in Virginia City in the main parking lot of the Madison County Public Health Department from 12pm-6pm and Saturday, September 11th in Ennis at Burnt Tree from 12pm-6pm. These clinics will offer covid-19 vaccinations, flu shots, Tdaps, Pneumonia (ages 65+), and Shingles (ages 50+). Please contact the Madison County Health Department for further information.
Our flow chart on the website is a great tool to use in deciding when your child should stay home from school, so please become familiar with it. We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your kids home if they are sick. Covid tests are also available for students at the school, but parent consent is required. If you have questions about testing or are unsure of what to do, please call the school nurse Monday-Friday between 7:30 A.M to 3:30 P.M.
There have been questions on how exactly quarantines will work this year and who has the authority to quarantine. Only the Madison County Public Health Department can isolate and quarantine students and staff. The school does not have the authority to quarantine. The school administration and the school nurse will work with the Madison County Public Health Department to assist in determining close contacts, quarantines, and when students/staff may return to school. From our experiences from last year, each case was different based on the investigation conducted by public health. Our goal is to keep our kids in school and not have kids quarantined if we can help it. It is so vital that everyone follows our protocols and adheres to them so we can keep kids and staff in school! It is important to point out again that the district will not make decisions regarding access to or delivery of school services based on vaccination status in accordance with state law. If you have further questions regarding this, please read HB 702 or give us a call at the school.
Our building project is starting to move along nicely. We are now looking at another option for our new facility. The alternative option was decided due to the fact that the former option would require abandoning a portion of Charles Street, which created obstacles and some unknowns. More detailed information will be added soon to the website and our Facebook page to keep you informed. In summary, the new option stays in basically the same footprint as our current high school, but adds a 2 story JH/HS along the west side of our current HS gym and around the south end of the gym. The plan is to replace the current high school with new elective classrooms and a new gym/stage. Our existing HS gym would be turned into the JH gym and our current VoTech will remain and be repurposed. We are hoping to make improvements to Charles Street to be safer for student arrival, drop-off, and pick-up. The current football field will remain, but it is planned for a new regulation track out at the bus barn property for student and community use. With this new option it still meets our goals for additional space and will accommodate future growth. Running a school bond election has not yet been approved by the trustees, but will be further discussed at the September meeting. We are currently working to market the project and to get information out to the public at open houses, games, etc. Please continue to check our school website and Facebook page for updated information. We encourage you to contact the school if you have any questions.
In closing, thank you. We cannot stress enough how important your kids are to our school. Have a great Labor Day weekend!!