Smart Restart - Fall 2020

August 4, 2020
Parent Town Hall Presentations:
Watch the Town Hall 

English Presentation
Spanish Presentation


July 30, 2020
Wenatchee School District Board of Directors approved Superintedent Gordon's reccomendation to start the school year online during a special meeting July 29th. The District will implement a two-stage approach to returning to the classroom starting with online and transitioning to hybrid when contditions allow.

Watch the meeting 
View Board Presentation

View Board Presentation - Spanish  
View Board Summary Report 

July 27, 2020
Wenatchee Schools will Start 2020-2021 School Year Online

The Wenatchee School District has announced that due to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in the community and across the state, it will recommend to the school board that school begin online August 26th for all K-12 students. The board will hold a special meeting and take action on the recommendation Wednesday, July 29 at 6:00 PM.

Initially, WSD planned to return PK-5th grade students to classrooms for in-person instruction in the fall and secondary though a hybrid (online/in-person) model. However, in light of new information from medical professionals and the health department, the District has changed direction and moved to resume school online until it is safe to return in-person. Students will learn in virtual classrooms taught by teachers at their enrolled schools until conditions allow face-to-face instruction.

In a meeting with regional superintendents, public health officials advised opening schools would lead to a significant transmission based on current infection rates. Medical professionals cited that in Chelan and Douglas counties, COVID-19 cases have increased to 425 per 100,000 people. An acceptable level for possibly reopening schools would be closer to 25 per 100,000.

With over 7,840 students and 1,200 employees, safety is the District’s number one priority when it comes to decisions about restarting school. “This is not where I want us to be; this is not where our staff wants us to be; we want our students back in the classroom,” said Wenatchee Superintendent Dr. Paul Gordon. Gordon also acknowledged the burden that a return to online learning places on families but underscored the fact that it is currently not safe to resume any level of in-person instruction at this time.

WSD school buildings house both students and staff, including some who fall into high-risk categories. What is known about the disease so far indicates young children are less likely to have severe impacts from COVID-19. Older children are capable of spreading the virus, with 11% of cases occurring in children aged 0-19. Asymptomatic students may also expose staff, their families, and others in the community, potentially creating a super spreader event. As a result, reopening school buildings for face-to-face instruction creates an untenable risk for students, staff, and the broader community. 

Using the feedback collected from stakeholders through surveys and focus groups, WSD made significant improvements to the remote learning model students and staff experienced in the spring. Now called “Continuous Learning 2.0,” the new online learning experience will be more robust, structured, and consistent. With Continious Learning 2.0 the virtual school day will begin and end at the normal time and daily attendance will be expected and required. Students and educators will engage in a continuous day of learning through the use of technology. School days will include typical courses available to students such as reading, writing, math, science, health, special services, intervention, physical education, art, etc. Continuous Learning 2.0 is a temporary plan to ensure continuity of education during school closures and will transition back to in-person instruction when it is deemed safe for students and staff to return to school. 

Continuous Learning 2.0 will be different than the District’s online school, Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA),  a new offering the District rolled out a few weeks ago. The difference is that students participating in Continuous Learning 2.0 will eventually return to classrooms for in-person instruction when it is deemed safe. Students enrolled in WIA will continue learning online throughout the year

Virtual Town Hall for Parents:
Parent feedback has been a valued component of WSD’s Smart Restart plan and will continue to be essential. The District will be hosting a Smart Restart virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, August 4th, at 6 PM for parents to hear more about restart plans for fall. Parents can submit questions before the meeting here.  Spanish translation services will be available. A recording of the town hall session will be posted on the district webpage after the live broadcast. For more information on the town hall click here

Additionally, we have taken the following steps to ensure our students, staff, and parents are supported:

For student, staff, and families:

  • Consistency: Consistent, predictable communication, and instructional schedules! For example, a consistent way to view and access links, schedules, and information on our newly adopted Canvas™™ Learning Management System. 
  • Remote Learning Resources: We will provide clear and helpful information that will serve as a resource for families and staff on how to successfully navigate remote learning.
  • Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA): Families who prefer that their child(ren) continue learning online through the school year and do not intend to send them back for in-person/hybrid instruction at any point during the year may enroll their K-12 students in WIA. WIA is a full-time stand-alone virtual school supported by Wenatchee School District teachers. 

Staff:

  • Training for all educators in order to ensure high-quality remote instruction for students.

Parents and families:

  • Grab-and-go meal distribution at school sites for any students and families.
  • Technology Access: We will continue to check out Chromebooks and iPads for students who need them. Knowing there may be multiple children in one household. Our intent is to have enough devices for every student who needs one, but constraints on manufacturing may delay this ability until the end of September, so we will begin the year with checking out devices to those in need who do not have a device in their home to use for remote learning.
  • Internet Access: More information about how to connect to low-cost and free Wifi hotspots around the Wenatchee is available at wenatcheeschools.org. We will continue to have our open wifi hotspots at schools and throughout our community in addition to a limited number of cellular hot spots for families most in need.
  • Parent Training Opportunities: We will be offering parent training videos and support on a variety of topics such as How to Navigate Online Learning, How to Support Your Child’s Learning.
  • Childcare: Plans for childcare are underway now. Additional information will be shared with families in the coming weeks.

More information, including specifics around school schedules, will be shared as soon as possible. As the environment and information around COVID-19 continue to shift and change, we will adapt and respond as quickly as possible. In-person learning is best for students and educators but until it is safe to return we will continue to focus on supporting our students and families and those farthest away from social justice. 

WSD appreciates the patience our stakeholders have given us. Please take care of one another by following the guidance of Public Health, social distancing, and wearing masks while in public. The sooner we can decrease the spread of COVID-19, the sooner we can get back into the classroom.

Our Next Steps:

  1. The School Board will vote on Superintendent Gordon’s recommendation to start school online during a special meeting Wednesday, July 29th at 6 PM
  2. Parent virtual town hall - August 4 at 6:00 PM

July 17, 2020
Our Commitment to Students & Families

As we parepare to open schools on August 26th we are committed to the following:

  • We will articulate clear expectations of schools and teachers so students and families know what to expect.
  • We will support coherent weekly transitions between in-school and distance learning.
  • We will provide alternative instructional options, including full-time online learning, for families who choose not to participate in in-school instruction.
  • We will plan for a seamless transition to full-time distance learning for all students, if necessary for public health.
  • We will expect consistency of high-quality instruction and student learning experience across classrooms and schools. 
  • We will focus on the social-emotional needs of our students, acknowledging these needs have been heightened by the pandemic.

Smart Restart Reopening Committee
Wenatchee School District has formed a smart restart school reopening committee to create a thoughtful and safe return plan to prepare students, families, educators, and community for school to resume in the fall. Our Smart Restart Plan is based upon the current guidelines from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Our goal is to return to school for in-person instruction with enhanced safety and mitigation procedures. However, we must be proactive and prepared during these ever-changing times to continue educating our students if and when circumstances change throughout the year related to the health and safety of our students and employees. Currently, our SMART RESTART committee is working with task force teams to establish three educational instructional pathways, on-site, online and hybrid (on-site and online)

These teams are also developing procedures for school routines (meals, recess, riding the bus, pick up and drop off, etc.) that comply with current social distancing requirements.

Smart Restart Report
Due to all the factors and information needed to plan as COVID-19 issues unfold, the comprehensive Smart Restart plan will be released in early August. While summer may have just started, we know that families are eager to understand what a return to school will look like and how they can best prepare themselves and their children. The plan will detail operations and academics and will address the mechanics of mitigating factors necessary to comply with OSPI’s guidance and safely reopen schools such as masks, sanitization, and social distancing measures.

Parent Survey Results
As part of the Smart Restart committee’s early planning work, a survey was sent to parents about returning to school in the fall. 2,000 parents participated in the survey. We value the feedback collected and are using it as a guide for our planning. A second survey will be conducted in August to gauge further parent concerns. Review the Summary of Parent Responses

Leveraging local expertise and providing training
The information here outlines some of the work that's been happening during the past couple months and will continue to happen over the summer. Work groups have been assembled with representation from teaching and operational staff as well as building and district administrators. Prior input from students, families, and staff is being used to guide our work. With serving the whole community as our continued foundation, our committed focus on equity and access will direct our work and will help us develop a comprehensive Smart Restart plan that will be made available in early August.

Learning Options
Our purpose of growing the whole child remains firmly anchored as a design parameter during these unprecedented times. Our goal is to open our doors for in-person instruction on August 26th for all of our students. We remain committed to learning experiences that ensure safe, healthy, engaged, challenged, and supported opportunities for each child, no matter the instructional method. In our Smart Restart plan, we have attempted to provide quality in-person, online, and hybrid (online and in-person) learning options and to allow our families to decide what is best for them in a way that mitigates the risks while maximizing the potential rewards.

Through our Smart Restart plan instruction will be provided in the following ways:

Learning Options
PreK - 5
  • All students can attend school 100% onsite, every day.
  • Any student can choose to learn 100% online through Wenatchee School District’s Internet Academy.
Grade 6-12
  • All students can attend in a hybrid model of 50% onsite and 50% online in a rotating A/B schedule.
  • Any student can choose to learn 100% online through Wenatchee School District’s Internet Academy.

Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA)
Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA) is an online educational program that provides instructor-led online courses to elementary through high school age students in the Wenatchee School District (WSD). WIA presents students with a daily robust, interactive learning experience with a certificated teacher. This program is not simply a textbook online. All K-12 curriculum is similar to current WSD classroom curriculum and aligned with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. WIA registration is now open for current students at wenatcheeschools.org/WIA

Learning Management System
To better support students and families, the District has adopted an online Learning Management System (LMS) called Canvas. The need for a single learning platform across K-12 was something we heard loud and clear from our parents and staff through feedback provided by focus groups and surveys. An LMS is a "one-stop shop" that will provide students, families, and educators support for years to come. The LMS will support seamless transitions from traditional face-to-face learning to online learning or a combination of both, strengthen communication, and enhance equitable access to students as they learn the priority standards. The LMS also has tools for parents so they can track their students’ progress and support learning at home.

Technology
Since the beginning of the shutdown, our Technology Department has been working to create an infrastructure that enables the District to deliver a safe and manageable online environment for all students and staff whether they are in a classroom or working remotely. In addition, we have ordered enough Chromebooks and iPads to ensure that each child has their own device for learning, barring unforeseen supply chain issues. Should we need to shut down for any reason in the future, students will be able to quickly transition to online instruction. Families that did not pick up a device for their child in the spring will have the ability to pick one up in the fall. Information on low-cost and free Wi-Fi service from local internet providers and a map of local public hot-spots is available at bit.ly/WSDWiFi

Safety
We want students back in school but must honor the safety needs of students, staff, and the community to make a smart restart this fall. Masks will be required for both students and staff, social distancing guidelines adhered to, and new ways of doing things in our school buildings will be introduced to ensure the safety and well being of all. Our Smart Restart comprehensive plan will outline how school routines like meal time, riding the bus, and pick up and drop will work.

Partnerships
This work cannot be done in isolation. More than ever before, there will be a need to rely on collaborative partnerships that deliver the resources, thought, and support of both internal and external stakeholders. We are working closely with experts from the University of Washington to develop high quality instructional frameworks for teaching and learning and reaching out to local partners for help supporting the various departments that collectively serve each child. We will lean into creative solutions to maximize partnerships throughout our greater Wenatchee community.

What's Next?

  • Continuing to develop our comprehensive Smart Restart plan for reopening
  • Adhering to OPSI’s guidelines for reopening schools 
  • Enhancing our online learning experience with the help of experts 
  • Examining the physical spaces at each of our schools to determine limits of social distancing 
  • Ordering necessary personal protective equipment and sanitizing resources
  • Gathering additional feedback from families, students and staff through another survey in August