July 21, 2020
Dear Westville Parents, Students, and Community,
Since May, the district administration, staff, and school board have been considering different options for a potential return to school in August. After reviewing the guidance from local, state, and federal agencies our district is ready to provide our approach to opening schools for the upcoming school year.
Please note that this plan has been developed with the best guidance, data, and collective thinking from our parents, staff, administrators, and school board. It is expected that new guidance will emerge as more information about the COVID-19 situation is understood. With this important preface, here is a summary of the major points of our plan for re-opening schools if these options are deemed permissible by governing agencies this fall:
- Westville families will be given a choice between in-person instruction or remote learning instruction. The district is set to provide full in-school learning five days per week with shortened school days for all students who want this delivery method. The district is also set to provide remote instruction for those students who either request this delivery method or those students who have a medical necessity.
- The district will be conducting registration earlier this school year to better determine how many families will elect in-person learning, remote learning, and/or who have transportation needs. Registration information will be released soon. Registration is tentatively set for July 27 thru August 3 with several small sessions over a number of days to better accommodate social distancing.
- Safety will be a primary concern for all in-person learning. Daily temperature checks will be conducted before entering a school building. Students with symptoms will not be allowed to participate with in-person learning. There will be increased measures to ensure deep cleaning and sanitation throughout each school day and at the end of each day. Outside visitors to the buildings will be limited to minimize unnecessary exposure.
- The district is committed to providing transportation to all students with the guidelines the district has always used. However, there will be considerations made due to a maximum bus occupancy of 50 people at a given time. Additionally, there will be temperature screenings that will occur before students are allowed to ride on the bus. The district will not take custody of students who are sick. Students with a temperature and/or COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to ride the bus and it will be the responsibility of parents to make sure these students are supervised . Social distancing on all buses will be limited. Students will be required to wear face coverings while riding the bus. After registration, when it is clearer on how many students will need bus service; more information will be provided about transportation options.
- All individuals in school will be required to wear face coverings. Students with medical exemptions and/or students who cannot wear face coverings indoors will be provided with remote learning instruction.
- The curriculum presented for the 2020-21 school year will be graded and assessed according to student performance. Students taught in-person or through remote learning will receive all instructional minutes as required by the state and student grades will reflect proficiency and participation in all academic courses.
- The district is designing the curriculum for the 2020-21 school year so that learning expectations will be the same for in-person instruction and remote instruction. Regardless of how the student is taught (in-person or through remote learning) students will be required to do similar work.
- The district is also designing training for students, parents, and teachers to understand how to: use district technology, monitor student work assigned electronically, and utilize technology safeguards with students. This training will be provided to students who choose to learn in-person and those who choose remote learning from the start of the year. This will be a primary focus at the start of the school year so students, parents, and teachers are better prepared in the event the district has to shift back to complete remote learning.
- To limit the number of transmission opportunities between students there will be several modifications necessary for certain programs and procedures. Since there is a 50-person capacity limitation on cafeteria spaces, breakfast and lunch will likely be pre-packaged meals presented in brown bags and consumed in student classrooms or modified spaces. Special programming like media centers, libraries, piano labs, band, choir, and physical education courses may have to be adapted, modified, and perhaps in some cases eliminated to reduce exposure potential. The decisions to temporarily modify, limit, or potentially eliminate certain programs are not easy, but remember these steps are being put into place to maintain safe in-person learning for as long as possible.
- The district will be working on a system for food service that will allow students who are choosing to learn remotely to still receive access to weekly meals from the school through advance notification and a system of weekly food pick-ups similar to what was conducted this past spring.
- The district is working to provide all students in the district with a learning device (iPad or Chromebook depending on the age of the student) regardless of the delivery method the student chooses. Students attending school in-person will be provided with a device. Student attending school remotely will be provided a device. It will be necessary to parents to register on time to ensure availability of a learning device for all students.
- The district will be supplying students with the necessary school supplies and resources they need for in-person learning. To reduce the potential for transmission, students will not need to purchase or bring in school supplies from home. Teachers will identify what is needed and the district will make sure those resources are available for students while at school.
- Back-to-school activities including opening night for Giacoma and orientation for seventh grade and freshmen students at WJHS and WHS will be done virtually or in small groups.
- If a student and/or employee tests positive for COVID-19 there will be an immediate notification to parents, teachers, and the community. In the event of a positive test the facts and circumstances of that situation will be evaluated carefully and a decision made in the best interest of students and staff on how best to proceed (i.e. a temporary cancellation of school, converting all students to remote learning, and/or another potential solution).
- Students and/or employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be subject to mandatory quarantine per state guidance. Likewise, students and/or employees who may have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 will also be required to quarantine per state guidance.
- Each school will be organized in a way to provide social distancing to the extent possible in classrooms and throughout school spaces. At the high school and junior high school this means students will not be issued lockers, but will instead be allowed to bring and carry book bags to minimize the need for collective gatherings between class periods. Additionally, measures will be in place to limit spaces to 50 people or less for students and staff to the extent possible.
As more guidance emerges this plan will be adapted and communicated to students, parents, and staff accordingly. The situation with COVID-19 has been fluid and evolving over time. Everyone should expect that guidance, safety protocols, and how we “do school” will change as we move through this situation as a school community.
Thank you for your support of Westville schools. We are confident we can find solutions that work for our students, staff, and community. We will continue to be proactive, safety conscious, and committed to serving our students.
Seth Miller, Ph.D.
Westville School District #2