School-home communication- 7.24.20
A MESSAGE FOR OUR WTS FAMILIES AND FACULTY
FROM WTS SUPERINTENDENT JEFF MOHRE
WTS continues to plan for the reopening of schools in preparation for the official start of the 2020-2021 school year, Thursday, August 27, 2020. Our reopening efforts are being guided by the need to proceed with both care and caution during this pandemic period, and weremain steadfast in our commitment to develop a reopening plan that underscores safety and instructional consistency for the children, staff, and faculty.
We continue to plan based on the most current guidelines and are most cognizant of the need to adjust quickly to whatever changes may be forthcoming; we are prepared to adjust accordingly as this remains a very fluid situation. In short, we are planning as if schools are opening tomorrow. That being said, the 2-Day Rotating Schedule to start the school year continues to be the leading option as it best aligns with the primary reopening goals underscoring health/safety and instructional continuity. I plan to share the definitive structure for the 2-Day Rotating Schedule next Friday, July 31. Essentially, children would be coming to school every other day (for full days) to start the school year. This would greatly reduce class size in terms of the number of children who would be in school/in class at any given time. Children who are at home, either because they are not scheduled to be physically present or their parents have elected not to have them physically attend, would access their classrooms remotely each day. We have worked closely with Comcast to expand our bandwidth to accommodate and facilitate remote learning. Our goal to have all children feel capable, confident, and cared for ... and feel connected to their teachers and their schools.
Social distancing, frequent hand cleaning, and face coverings guidelines will need to be in place as we start the new year. Children and staff who are not feeling well on any given school day will remain at home. As a reminder, WTS will provide both cloth face coverings and plastic face shields to children and staff. This does not necessarily mean that children and staff will wear both all day long. The face shield provides a welcomed "break" from a cloth face covering. We will set guidelines for children based on such factors as social distancing, hallway travel, outdoor classroom experiences, lunch recesses, arrival/departure etc.
Our talented Principals are currently creating student groups/cohorts and we are striving mightily to enable K-8 siblings to attend on the same day to assist parents with their schedules. We are aiming to share student cohort information by either Friday, July 31st or Monday, August 3rd: Please be sure you are able to log on to OnCourse Connect as we will use that portal to communicate cohort groups to our students' parents. Newly registered parents, including newly registered kindergarten parents, will receive an email communication with their OnCourse Connect Username and Password early next week. With the Governor formally announcing today that parents can opt for an "all virtual" education format (WTS was already preparing to accommodate "at-home" learners), our Principals may need to make changes to their student group/cohort drafts. Every planning step is being taken thoughtfully and we realize that even with thoughtful planning we need to be prepared to pivot. Due to the uncertainties a pandemic breeds, we are planning this school year in chunks or segments of approximately 6 weeks in length and we will reevaluate and refine constantly as the year progresses. We may be able to become less restrictive over time. We may need to become more restrictive over time. Only time will tell and I know we are all hopeful for NJ's continued positive pandemic recovery which could result in fewer restrictions as the school year progresses.
Most certainly, additional information will be shared with everyone not only at the end of next week but throughout the month of August as we lead up to Opening Day 2020. It is important to note that the District has even facilitated meetings with Catholics Charities and MVCA (current providers of the schools' childcare program) to explore the feasibility of providing childcare services on school premises during the school day. Nothing definitive as of yet, but we are in the planning stages. There is no doubt that the reopening of schools is a multi-faceted endeavor and we are deeply committed to examining each aspect - - Physical & Mental Health; Teaching and Learning; School Operations; Technology Resources; Facilities & Maintenance; Transportation; and Governance - - with thought, effort and pride.
Enjoy the weekend with your families and take good care,
Superintendent of Schools