May 15: WGSD (includes parent/guardian survey)

Dear WGSD Family,

As we head into the summer, I know many are wondering what school will look like for our children come August. Before finalizing and communicating plans, we need to know what permissions the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will grant school districts under the present extraordinary circumstances. We plan to follow those rules; not doing so would mean a loss of $13 million in state and local funding.

Once we’re clear on those parameters — and have considered the applicable guidelines, research and data on COVID-19 —  we can make decisions and communicate our intentions. While we’d like to do so at the earliest possible time, most regional school districts, including WGSD, are planning to arrive at a decision sometime in July. Our intent is to communicate our plans to families in July unless we’re able to do so earlier. The sooner we all know the better.

While finalizing plans requires a bit of waiting, preparing for the opening of school does not.  For some time, we’ve been in local and regional discussions and planning sessions regarding re-entry and re-imagining school for the 2020-21 school year.

Generally speaking, there are a few different models for which we’ll need to be prepared at the start and throughout the 20-21 school year, which will largely be dictated by the present status of COVID-19 at the time.  Those models include school taking place: 1) in our schools, 2) online (distance learning), and/or 3) both in our schools and online.  There are a number of ways the third model could be implemented, including half the students coming on certain days and the other half on others or some of the students spending 100% of their time at school while others spend 100% of their time learning from at home.  There are many models and variations of models being discussed and debated, not just here, but regionally, nationally and around the world.  There are strengths and weaknesses for all or some in most models.  Regardless of which model we choose for August, it will be critically important for us to be prepared for each so that we can navigate smoothly from one to the other, should circumstances dictate.

As you can imagine, and as I promised, we’re continuing to learn quite a bit each day as we implement online learning. We’re learning from what has gone well with distance learning and what has not gone well – for all or some. Daily we’re studying and learning from researchers and health experts from around the world. Here are a few examples of what we’ve learned over the past 9 weeks:

  • The inequities both inside and outside our school system have been magnified during this crisis and distance learning. Our most vulnerable are now even more negatively affected (short and in some cases long term) by systems and structures that don’t see and care for them justly.
  • K-12 public schools, including the WGSD, are much more competent at meeting the academic and personal needs of most students when they are in the schools.
  • Regardless of how school looks and where it occurs in August, it must be clear how our efforts will contribute to the mitigation of COVID-19 and to meeting the diverse needs of district students.
  • Our children and adults will need ongoing care — and adults will require proper training to support the children — to cope with the effects of the virus.
  • While our staff transitioned to online teaching pretty darn well, literally overnight, and I applaud them for it, we must provide them with all the development, resources, support and clear expectations they need to implement distance learning at a higher level come August 24.
  • As a public school district, we can’t meet the needs of children, families, staff and community alone, and will need the support of local and regional partners to help care for them.

As we continue our efforts to prepare for your children and support families in the fall, we’d like to hear from you.  If you would, please complete the following brief survey in order to help inform and support our decision-making for the fall of 2020.  Thanks in advance for doing so!

 

Parent/Guardian Survey Regarding the 2020-21 School Year

 

As the school year comes to a close next week, I plan to discontinue this weekly email.  However, each week I will post to this blog, as I’ve done over the past couple months.  If you’d like to have the post automatically sent to your email, you can subscribe by clicking on the post at the top of this page.

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With care,

John

 

WEEKLY MESSAGE TO STUDENTS

What follows is a short, video dedication to the 2020 Senior Class of Webster Groves High School.  In it, various district stakeholders share their hopes for the senior class as they move beyond us to bigger and better.  Seniors, we wish you nothing but the best life has to offer!

 

 

SUMMER MATH PRACTICE

The district’s K-8 math coordinator put together a wonderful site where students can learn and practice math throughout the summer!  Check it out: https://bit.ly/WGsummermath

 

FROM THE WGSD NURSES

In accordance with state law and school board policy, all students must have documentation regarding required immunizations to attend the first day of school on August 24, 2020.  Immunizations can be obtained at your pediatrician’s office, St. Louis County Health Department and some Walgreens Take-Care Clinics. The American Academy of Pediatrics is still encouraging well-care and immunizations during the COVID-19 crisis to avoid risking other health problems as well so please fax/mail the proper documentation your child’s school.  Thank you!

 

SUMMER SCHOOL

Because of the ongoing concern around COVID-19, we will be offering elementary and middle school summer school programming through Launch, an online learning platform, developed by the Springfield (MO) Public School system. All of the Launch classes are developed by Missouri educators and aligned to Missouri Learning Standards. You can learn more about Launch here   https://fueledbylaunch.com

All sessions are completely free to families if you enroll in the classes through the Webster Groves School District.

For details about this programming and how to sign up, please click this link https://www.webster.k12.mo.us/Page/14087

 

DISTRICT AND LOCAL RESOURCES

District Meal Program:  Click here to learn more about the district’s “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch meal program, free to all children between the ages of 0-18.

Family Meal Support: The Webster-Rock Hill Ministries is providing food to families in need.  Call (961-5082) or stop by during regular business hours (9 – 12 pm, Monday – Friday)

Regional Food and Emotional Well-Being Support: Click here to access a variety of free, regional resources.

Discussing COVID-19 and Death with Children: For support talking to children about things related to COVID-19, including the death of people they know, please access a variety of resources on our COVID-19, “Tips to Talking to Children” web page by clicking here.

WGSD: May 8

Dear WGSD Family,

As we near what was expected to be our date for high school graduation (May 12), my thoughts and emotions for the senior class of 2020 continue to build. While the seniors with whom I’ve connected fully understand why the end of their senior year must look different, it’s still really hard for them and many others close to them.  While I do look forward to a wonderful graduation ceremony to honor each and every one of them, it’s my hope that, with respect to the safety and well-being of all, we’re able to do so face to face in either June or July.  We will keep families abreast of the situation as we proceed into the summer.

Earlier in the week, the Virtual Senior Awards Program was shared with me.  I was blown away by the accomplishments of the students and the class!  Please click here to take a look at the program from that night which includes special honors, awards and scholarships earned and received by this remarkable group of young people!  Thanks to all the teachers, staff, families and others who supported the students along their journeys in the WGSD!

As I was further processing this group of students and the end of their K-12 experience, I was hit with the thought that, years from now, they might be one of the more well known, if not the most, classes in WGSD history.  As others look to learn about and from the pandemic, they’ll seek out information and stories on the effect of the virus on schools – namely the people.  People will not just learn of and admire the seniors’ thoughtful and empathetic response to the pandemic, but they’ll learn of the individual and collective accomplishments of the group: academic, artistic, athletic, and others.  And this thought, coupled with all the stories that make up the Class of 2020, put a smile on my face.

In addition, future “googlers” and researchers will also see how others rallied around the children including the parents and staff.  The WGHS Parents Club’s efforts to honor the senior class have been remarkable! Check out the Fox 2 News story below regarding the senior parade they organized and implemented to honor each student!

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People searching will also find endearing messages and tributes such as this one from the World Languages Department at WGHS.  What talent!

In closing, for my weekly challenge, I’m asking for your (student, parent, community member) assistance in a video that will be shared with the senior class.  Please respond to the prompt: “My hope for you(seniors)…”  Videos can be sent to simpson.john@wgcloud.org by noon on Tuesday, May 12.  Please don’t overthink it, don’t wonder if the seniors would want to hear from someone they possibly don’t know or worry about the words you share – just share!

With care and gratitude,

John

 

WEEKLY MESSAGE TO STUDENTS AND CHALLENGE VIDEOS

What follows is my weekly message to students, followed by recognition of last week’s winners of the student challenge and an introduction of this week’s challenge!  A donation of $50 will be made to the Webster-Rock Hill Ministries in honor of last week’s participants.  Please share it with your children!

Check out Claudia’s telescope made from recycled materials!  Very neat, Claudia!

If your child(ren) would like to submit a video, please:

  • email it to simpson.john@wgcloud.org by noon on Tuesday, May 12,
  • let me know if you don’t want your child’s video included in my weekly message next Friday, and
  • know that donations related to the challenge will not come from district funds.

 

DISTRICT AND LOCAL RESOURCES

District Meal Program:  Click here to learn more about the district’s “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch meal program, free to all children between the ages of 0-18.

Family Meal Support: The Webster-Rock Hill Ministries is providing food to families in need.  Call (961-5082) or stop by during regular business hours (9 – 12 pm, Monday – Friday)

Regional Food and Emotional Well-Being Support: Click here to access a variety of free, regional resources.

Discussing COVID-19 and Death with Children: For support talking to children about things related to COVID-19, including the death of people they know, please access a variety of resources on our COVID-19, “Tips to Talking to Children” web page by clicking here.

WGSD – May 1

Dear WGSD Family,

In the WGSD, we are extremely blessed to have an extraordinarily competent and caring group of adults working with our children each and every day.  Today is Principal Appreciation Day and next week is Teacher Appreciation Week.  I would strongly encourage you to reach out to the teachers and principals in your children’s lives who, in the past or present, see and support your children for the beautiful and brilliant people they are.  Let them hear again or for the first time, the impact of the care, attention and skill on your children and family.   As someone who is in his 25th year in this business, I can assure you that a simple note or voice mail from you would mean the world – now more than ever due to the challenges each is facing at work and at home.

Thank you teachers and thank you principals!

With gratitude,

John

 

WEEKLY MESSAGE TO STUDENTS AND CHALLENGE VIDEOS

What follows is my weekly message to students, followed by recognition of last week’s winners of the student challenge and an introduction of this week’s challenge!  Please share it with your children!

Thanks to Susan Bergman, our math coordinator, for this week’s challenge in which I will be racing students during our weekly Math Virtual Races!  While I’ll be participating in the Multiplication “Tractor Competition” from 11:00 – 11:30 am this Wednesday, students can engage in other fun games using their addition, subtraction or division skills.  Click on the following flyer for more information: www.bit.ly/WGmathraces.  Please let me know if your child participated using the email address below!

 

To check out the creative and fun videos submitted by students and families last week, please see the video below!  A donation of $50 will be made to the Webster-Rock Hill Ministries in honor of last week’s participants.

 

If your child(ren) participates in the Virtual Math Race this week, please:

  • email his/her/their name to simpson.john@wgcloud.org by 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, and
  • know that donations related to the challenge will not come from district funds.

 

DISTRICT AND LOCAL RESOURCES

District Meal Program:  Click here to learn more about the district’s “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch meal program, free to all children between the ages of 0-18.

Family Meal Support: The Webster-Rock Hill Ministries is providing food to families in need.  Call (961-5082) or stop by during regular business hours (9 – 12 pm, Monday – Friday)

Regional Food and Emotional Well-Being Support: Click here to access a variety of free, regional resources.

Discussing COVID-19 and Death with Children: For support talking to children about things related to COVID-19, including the death of people they know, please access a variety of resources on our COVID-19, “Tips to Talking to Children” web page by clicking here.