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!
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.
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!
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.