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Perrysburg Schools News Article

Community Update 04/17/20

Good Afternoon Families, Employees and Community Leaders,

I hope that this message finds each of you and your loved ones well.

On Thursday, April 16, 2020 Governor DeWine during his daily press conference announced his plans for opening Ohio back up. He said: “I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st.” Governor DeWine added that: “It's going to be gradual – one thing after another. We want to do this in a thoughtful way that engenders confidence and ensures customers and employees are safe.”

The Governor issued a cautionary warning that: “life will not resume to normal for a while. We all have continued taking precautions and protecting the most vulnerable Ohioans – seniors and those with pre-existing and chronic health conditions.”

What does this mean to Perrysburg Schools?
Within an hour of this announcement, we began to receive emails from families concerned about the possibility of reopening schools on May 4. At the same time, we heard from families who wanted to know our schedules for spring sports, graduation plans and resuming performing arts concerts. The concerns raised about reopening ranged from having children and family members who were medically fragile and the risks opening schools would pose. Others are excited about the possibility of getting students to return to school and be able to wrap up the school year. In the last 24 hours, everyone seems to be asking the same question – when?

The answer is simple. We don’t know yet.

As a school district, we are preparing for different options as we do not know what a “gradual” opening will look like for schools. There are so many variables to consider as we think about some of the basic elements in a typical school day. How can we safely transport students to and from school while keeping a safe physical distance? Feeding students in the cafeteria or changing classes are all daily occurrences that will present challenges in planning based on the restrictions we may be facing with social distancing. How will we take steps to set additional safeguards for employees who may be at risk? We are working on creating a number of alternative plans in anticipation of what may come, knowing that the future is uncertain.

The one thing we do know is not having a clear date or end point is very frustrating for students, families and employees alike. There have been deadlines established and then extended. As we approach the next one, anticipation and anxiety builds.  In addition to these “government-issued” targets, there are internal milestones that the school community points toward as markers to return such as prom, sports seasons or graduation.

As these dates come and go, it is an emotional roller coaster for all involved. The glimmer of hope as the date approaches, the dissection of the words our leaders use and the questioning of ourselves and each other about the odds of it happening are all too familiar. That is until everything changes. The process starts all over again. But this time with more despair, anxiety and uncertainty.

I am not immune to this same cycle and I was reminded by a close friend this week of something called the “Stockdale Paradox” that was described in the business leadership book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. The Stockdale Paradox refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in the prisoner of war camp who was given the nickname “Hanoi Hilton” during the height of the Vietnam War. Admiral Stockdale was held in captivity for eight years and tortured repeatedly. He received the harshest treatment. Admiral Stockdale endured being a POW with no set date of release and not knowing as to whether he would live to see his family again. Despite this impossible circumstance, Admiral Stockdale survived these eight years. Researchers wanted to understand how he survived all that time while other prisoners imprisoned for fewer years did not.

When asked for the book who was most likely not to make it out of the “Hanoi Hilton,” he responded: “Oh, that’s easy. The optimists.”

Webster's definition for the word paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense yet is perhaps true.

I share this definition now because the Admiral explained his answer, which is a paradox.

When asked to clarify his answer, he explained, “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Admiral Stockdale said: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
The Stockdale Paradox is the ability to confront the “most brutal facts of your current reality” and balance that with optimism. It was this contradictory thought that proved to be the strength that led the admiral through those eight years. This paradox flies in the face of eternal optimists.
For us, it is important to remember the Stockdale Paradox as we face COVID-19. We must confront the brutal facts of our situation and be resolved that we will emerge victoriously from this battle. We cannot allow ourselves to become caught up in the roller coaster that is created by seemingly arbitrary dates established by deadlines and school milestones.

We must remain hopeful, display discipline and have faith that we will prevail.

We do not know when school will be back in session. We do not know what the gradual return to reopening will look like. But, we are confident that those things will be happening in the future. We will continue to communicate with you regularly as plans solidify. And when reopening does happen, it will be a great day.

Student Services and Supports
Please visit this link to view the many student services and supports available to families during this crisis, from food assistance to mental health. It is updated weekly.

Food Bags, Breakfasts and Lunches
Perrysburg Schools will be providing breakfast and lunch to students in need every Monday through May 1, 2020. Students will receive a week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches and can pick up via a car line at Toth Elementary School (200 East Seventh St.). A-L pickup is 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and M-Z pick up is 12:30-1:30 p.m., however this is flexible. Safety precautions will be in place for social distancing and will be explained when you arrive. Please click the link below to sign up for this service by Sunday of each week.

Following, please find some additional information that we hope you find useful. If there are questions or topics you would like us to address, please email them to thosler@perrysburgschools.net.

Be healthy,
Thomas L. Hosler
Perrysburg Schools

Grading Explanation being emailed to 5th-12th Grade Parents/Guardians
We know that the stress put on families is tremendous and we are doing our best to determine the right path to take in the education of our students. One of the major tasks we have been struggling with is the validity of grades for students.

We are sandwiched between the standards-based grading approach for our younger students and the more formal GPA-driven grades for our oldest students. While we believe that our teachers have done a remarkable job in creating a learning environment conducive to student growth, this format is a struggle for both teachers and students. There is also a very real struggle with family stressors: parents tele-commuting while students are learning online, job loss, illnesses and the constant threat of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. 

We believe that it is incumbent on us as a school to be mindful of all of these and act in support of our students and families while attempting to help students achieve their greatest potential. In researching this question, we turned to other schools across Ohio and the country as well as leading education experts, and have developed a plan moving forward that is being shared with families of students in grades 5-12 this weekend. We estimate that at least 90% of our students are completing their assignments on a regular basis. We are proud of the work our students are doing and will work with families to continue to provide meaningful experiences.

Wood County Residents asked to report COVID-19 Symptoms via Survey
Wood County residents who feel they may have coronavirus (COVID-19) are encouraged to complete a survey that will help local public health better track the illness.
The survey, a partnership with Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Futon County Health Department and the University of Toledo, is meant to create a better understanding of COVID-19 in Northwest Ohio. Residents of Wood, Lucas and Fulton counties are asked to report coronavirus symptoms at https://tinyurl.com/WoodCountyCOVID19.
“Because our testing capacity is still limited, we’re not able to confirm coronavirus in everyone who thinks they may have it. This is a way for us to and get a better picture of how COVID-19 is currently impacting our communities,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey.
People who believe they may be sick with coronavirus are first asked to review CDC’s information about COVID-19 symptoms at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html. If you have concerns about your condition, contact your health care provider.
The survey asks for basic demographic, employment and health information that will only be used to track the coronavirus outbreak. Your information will be stored in an encrypted database and only shared with agencies working to respond to COVID-19. Local health departments will monitor all reports but may not be able to respond to your submission personally.

United Way in Wood County and Dolly Parton Imagination Library
Every child in Wood County, between birth and five years old, is now eligible to sign up for free, monthly books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. They just need to go to this online location and enroll their children: https://www.unitedwaytoledo.org/get-help/imaginationlibrary/.  Each child in the family will receive age-appropriate books mailed to their home in their name. United Way in Wood County is able to offer this program due to the generous support for the first year from our friends in the county libraries and a partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library.

Ohio Attorney General shares Information to help keep Kids Safe from Online Predators
According to the Ohio Attorney General, as screen time increases during the COVID-19 pandemic, online predators are seizing opportunities to connect with youth. It's all the more crucial for parents and guardians to heed their kids' online activity and talk about the dangers of the Internet. Please watch this brief video they released on this topic: https://youtu.be/BA1wna-5YF4.

Posted Friday, April 17, 2020
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