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LOCS Update (Dec. 5, 2021)

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December 5, 2021

Dear LOCS Families-

As we transition into the upcoming school week, I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for your understanding, your patience and your partnership.

Last week’s tragedy in Oxford was a moment that shook us all to our core. It connected closer to home for us more than any outside community and we are all affected by it.

Many of you have reached out to myself and LOCS administrators with questions, suggestions, thoughts, and with support. Please know we are reading every email, listening to every message and taking all of the information under advisement. Today’s message should address many of the questions you have posed.

We appreciate the feedback and are thankful we have families who are so passionate and active in their students’ education. Through the middle and end of last week and this weekend, our administrative staff continued to work towards increased safety measures while creating the most appropriate learning environment for our students.

Those efforts involved the strong relationship with our law enforcement partners, including the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Village of Lake Orion Police. Ongoing conversations about the current environment and safety measures have helped us understand the process of law enforcement as they seek to protect our schools as well.

Their efforts remain a great area of support, knowing they are consistently working to protect us. Moving back to the school after the buildings were closed to students on Thursday and Friday of last week is a significant step. Each student has different needs and we hope that families remain connected to their student’s wellbeing.

We want those students returning to school tomorrow (Monday, December 6) to feel as safe as possible, given our environment. While we all are healing, experts say continuing the students’ routine is an important healing process for those affected by Oxford’s tragedy so close to our community. 

  • At Lake Orion High School, to ensure a more secure environment, the building will be closed to students for classes this full week (December 6-10) as increased security procedures are implemented at the building. Students will interact with their classes via Microsoft Teams as in the previous remote schedules. After school activities will continue in person as scheduled.
    • Monday, December 6: The LOHS staff will conduct a teacher online check-in at 1 p.m. with their first-hour class for a mental health focus. Students who need to retrieve learning materials can visit the building between 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
      • Dragon Virtual students will not have class on Monday.
    • Tuesday, December 7: Students will have a remote half day from 7:30-10:45 a.m. Dragon Virtual students will resume a full-day schedule.
    • Wednesday, December 8: Students will have a remote late-start Wednesday from 9:40 a.m.-2:35 p.m.
    • Thursday and Friday, December 9-10: Students will have a full day remote schedule, 7:30 a.m.-2:35 p.m.
    • All LOHS students who would like to bring a backpack for the school day will be required to bring a clear backpack for the return to school on December 13. Students will only be allowed to bring essential school-related items.
  • At Learning Options High School, tomorrow (Monday, December 6), the Learning Options staff will conduct a teacher Microsoft Teams online check-in at 1 p.m. for their first-hour class for a mental health focus.
  • At the middle school level, the school day tomorrow (Monday, December 6) is scheduled to continue in person with the usual class schedule. While conversations about last week’s events may occur, the district’s intent is for classes to continue as their curriculum dictates. Students who need personal support, counseling staff will be available as necessary. Please have them reach out to any adult if they are feeling uneasy.
  • As the elementary level returns tomorrow (Monday, December 6) – as shared by each principal in the past few days – the LOCS staff will not be resurfacing and discussing the events of last week. We understand each family has had different levels of discussion within their home about last week’s school closures and the elementary staff respects that. If a student needs or wants to discuss those topics with an adult, each school has staff to have those conversations in an area away from the whole class setting.
  • Pine Tree Center and Early Childhood will continue its usual in-person schedule all week.

LOCS has counseling staff available at each building with multiple support staff members. We have posted the North Oakland Community Coalition list of outside professionals where counseling and help is available. There are connections and suggestions on how to talk to your children about last week’s events. All of these resources are available on this page: LOCS Counseling Resources

Following last week’s tragedy, LOCS listened to our staff and quickly realized they wanted to feel more prepared for a potential emergency situation. The district quickly shifted to use Friday for that opportunity, providing all staff with a re-certification course in the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training that all employees take each school year. That was followed by an examination of each room and school and identifying areas that can be strengthened to prepare for an emergency situation.

While many area districts are remaining closed on Monday to move through these steps, LOCS made a proactive move to utilize our time Friday.

Many of our families have reached out, asking about specific security improvements within the schools. While some of the processes cannot be shared publicly to ensure greater safety, we can explain some visible steps that students will see.

At the in-person secondary schools (Learning Options High School, all three middle schools), students may be asked verbal questions from the administrators or security personnel as they enter. Just as last Wednesday, there will be an increased law enforcement presence in addition to the three school resource officers who work in our buildings daily. In addition, we have campus monitors who are in our buildings each day.

The most important conversation for families to have with their students remains the topic of reporting. For secondary students, that involves understanding no attempt at humor, verbal or digital, about potential violence is acceptable and all could be prosecuted by law enforcement, especially in such an emotional and sensitive time. They can play a major role by monitoring their peers’ social media posts and verbal conversations, sharing any concerns immediately with law enforcement (by using the confidential reporting tool OK2Say or contacting the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (248-858-4911 or email OCSO@oakgov.com.) All of these conversations and processes are essential in keeping our schools as safe as possible.

The healing process for our Oxford neighbors will continue indefinitely and our district and staff continue to look for ways to help support their grief. We understand this week will be challenging for many in our community as the memorials continue and our staff will grant grace and understanding to all individuals who continue to process their emotions.

Respectfully,

Ben Kirby

LOCS Superintendent