School Updates

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From Okaloosa County Superintendent Marcus Chambers
As we enter the second month of the 2021-2022 Okaloosa County School District school year, our employees are busy ensuring that every student receives a world-class education in a safe environment. We are focused on the mental health of our students as it is impossible to ignore that everyone in our community is currently facing major challenges. I am proud to be a part of team OCSD as I know every teacher, staff member, administrator, bus driver, parent and community member is here to make sure that every child has what they need to be successful in life. Thank you all for taking the initiative to do what it takes to make a difference in the lives of our students!

For many students, school is more than an education; it is a safe place to connect with friends, obtain healthy meals, and grow into an empowered individual that will positively impact their families, communities and the world. We have several opportunities including Kids C.O.D.E. and other Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, organizations like HOPE Squad, a group that focuses on suicide prevention and will be active in every school in Okaloosa County soon, and State Championship athletic and music programs that students can participate in.

Parents, thank you for trusting us with your child’s education every day. Your child is our priority and every decision made is based on their safety and education. Your partnership during these difficult times has been invaluable as you have stepped into new roles you didn’t have prior to this pandemic. We could not do this without you!

Without our community, the Okaloosa County School District would not be the A+ School District that it is. The relationships that we have and are building with individuals and businesses is so important as we strengthen the education and opportunities we provide our students, especially during these difficult times. Thank you to those of you who have invested in our students and schools.

Every stakeholder in this district is a member of team OCSD and without the entire community, we would not be the district that we are, setting a positive example for other districts across the nation. We live in the best community!

Walton County Superintendent A. Russell Hughes Update
This year began in EPIC fashion, a reflection of Superintendent Russell Hughes’ theme ‘EPIC 4wRd. – Recalibrated, Refocused, Ready and Rocking!’ “Preparing to engage children, building teacher capacity to maintain rigorous instruction while providing social-emotional support for students is at the forefront of every decision. Intentional thought goes into every detail, so our children come to school excited, ready to learn in a safe environment,” Superintendent Hughes says.

Teachers and district leaders participated in Capturing Kids Hearts, a K-12 SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) training that equips professionals to implement transformational processes focused on emotional wellbeing, relationship-driven campus culture, and student connectedness.

Teachers and school leaders learned strategies that contribute to improved school culture and climate.

Walton County School District is committed to creating safe and welcoming learning environments where students are connected and eager to learn.

Part of creating safe and welcoming environments includes maintaining a vigilant approach to children’s health. District Mitigation Strategies for the protection against COVID-19 are still in place and mimic the state implemented design:
• If a person is sick, they should stay home. (students, teachers, staff, and visitors)
• Face covering is optional for all, including the bus.
• Hand Sanitizer is available at various areas inside the school.
• Social distance from others as much as possible.
• Signs are displayed to remind those in schools about social distance and the use of hand sanitizer/washing of hands and face covering.
• Daily cleaning and disinfecting school facilities/buses occupied by students
• Adequate mitigation supplies on hand at the schools/facilities (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks, etc.)
• COVID-19 vaccination is optional for all students and employees.
• COVID-19 contact tracing occurring in all schools/facilities (2021-2022 WCSD Decision Tree for employees and students)

The protocols above have kept outbreaks at schools to a minimum. Currently, the number of Walton County School District students identified as having the COVID virus is 3.1%, and an exceptional 97% have been COVID-free. Although we would love to have a 0% contraction rate, our present percentages are due to the collaboration and cooperation of teachers, principals, staff, and community members. We encourage every family to remain diligent and vigilant as we get through this uncomfortably challenging time.