District Leans on Process for a Return to School

District Leans on Process for a Return to School
Posted on 08/17/2020
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Over the summer, school leaders, teachers, and staff have been working hard to prepare for what continues to be a challenging time.  “We’re in a historic pandemic and there are lots of moving parts,” said Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond.  “We realize that our schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our community and that we play a critical role in supporting the whole child, not just their academic achievement. We are focused on how to protect the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities as we prepare for education this fall.”


Return to School Committee

In July, we surveyed parents, teachers and our educational assistants for feedback on options for our return to school plan.  Over 3,000 families responded and nearly all of our teachers and educational assistants did as well.  Survey data reveals:


Parent and Professional Educators and Educational Assistants Returning to School Comparison


Percent First Choice Returning to School

 

In Person

Distance

Virtual

 Parents

53.3%

24.4%

19.1%

 Teachers and EAs

26.8%

45.1%

28.1%


We then formed a large stakeholder committee of administrators, teachers, parents, and local public health officials.  Our team has been reviewing the Department of Public Instruction guidance, survey feedback, and public health guidance to help us plan our return to school.  We have been working hard to develop a thoughtful plan that best meets the needs of our stakeholders.


Return to School Committee

To assist in the development of the framework, a stakeholder committee of teachers, parents, district leaders, and community public health officials was formed.  The Returning to School Committee is a group of 46 individuals advising on the formulation of a plan to safely reopen our schools during a time of a global health crisis.  The committee has been meeting each Friday for weeks and working on individual tasks that will be part of an overarching plan.


The plan is based on an established set of principles:

- Safety & Well Being
- Learning That Works for All
- Responsiveness & Flexibility
- Practicality of Implementation


The planning process also included review of guidance from state and local agencies and consultation with local health departments.  We are currently receiving guidance from some of our health partners about what health metrics need to be in place to move up in phases.

- City of West Allis Department of Health

- City of Greenfield Health Department
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

Framework for Return to School

On Monday, July 27, 2020 the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District’s Board of Education approved a framework that paves the way for students to return to school as the country faces a historic pandemic.  To learn more you can review the presentation shared with our Board of Education HERE.


Our Administration and the Returning to School Committee recommended that the Board of Education approve the Returning to School Framework starting with all Virtual Learning and phased in options for Distance Learning and In-Person Learning based on health metrics.  


School will begin on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 with Virtual Learning. 


From there, depending on health metrics, we will move to Distance learning and families who selected to send their children to school two days per week will do so.  Finally, In-Person learning will be available for families who selected to send their children for five days per week (Elementary students) and four days per week (Secondary students).

Returning to School Framework Phases

Phase 1

Virtual Only

Phase 2

Two Days Elementary Distance Learning and Designated Identified Students with Special Needs

Phase 3

Two Days Secondary Distance Learning

Phase 4

Five Days Elementary In Person Learning

Phase 5

Four Days Secondary In Person Learning

 

Currently, we are in the process of asking parents to select a specific return to school option for their child(ren).  It is our intent to provide families with what they feel is best for their child(ren).  The options are:


  • Virtual Learning:  My child will attend school virtually using a computer device (provided) and teacher-led digital instruction from home.


  • Distance Learning:  To support physical distancing, my child will attend school using a plan that is a combination of in-person and virtual learning.  (Students attend school two days a week with an alternating schedule so not all students are in the building at one time.  When students are not in school, they receive teacher-led digital instruction with a computer device (provided). 

 

  • In-Person Learning:  My child will attend school in-person, five days per week (elementary) and four days per week (secondary) with limited social distancing available. 


Parents need to select a specific option for their child(ren).  When we add the phases, the selection will be in place for the first quarter of the school year (pending any unforeseen input from state and local officials or health departments).   


Clarification of Two-Day and Five-Day Learning Options

We have been working to provide individual follow up communication to parents related to the Two-Day versus Five-Day learning options and we learned about the need to clarify our phases.  Based on feedback from parents, here is what we understand and how we will proceed to provide each family with the option that best meets their needs.




Why Parents Selected the Two-Day Option

I chose the Two-Day option. I want to stay with the Two-Day option so my child is in school but with limited potential disease exposure.



There is no need to make changes at this time.


We will call all families in mid to late September, as health conditions begin to improve.


We will ask for feedback on Virtual Learning and then verify your preferred learning option and make changes to provide each family with what best meets their needs.



I chose the Two-Day option. I want my child in school as soon as possible and automatically changed to the Five-Day option.




Why Parents Selected the Five-Day Option


I chose the Five-Day option. I only want my student in school when it is much safer to return.

I chose the Five-Day option. But I want my child in school as soon as possible so I would prefer to begin with the Two-Day option.

Note:  Students with designated special needs will be contacted by their case manager regarding their school schedule as we implement the appropriate phase of our plan.


Calendar 

School will begin on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 with Virtual Learning.  Then depending on health metrics, we will move to Distance learning (two days per week) and finally In-Person learning (five days per week for Elementary students and four days per week for Secondary students).  

2020-2021 Revised School Calendar for Parents/Students HERE

 

“I want to underscore an important, universal point: we, as educators, want our students to return to school.  We miss our students.  We are anxious to be together again in our classrooms.  However, given the current health metrics, this is not advisable.  Also, we recognize that parents want a choice about schooling during this difficult time,” said Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond.