June Update for Westside families & staff
Posted June 9, 2020
Good morning. We want to give you an update on several important topics as we continue to move forward in these challenging times.
First, we do NOT want to overflow your email inbox this summer. We will do our best to be efficient and respectful of how many emails we send while also trying to provide timely updates to keep you in the loop. It’s a challenge to find the right balance. We know the last three months have been extremely tough on many families and we are not trying to add to that stress level. In fact, we are trying to communicate in hopes we can alleviate some stress for many of you.
We hope to have enough guidance from state level leaders to be able to make a decision and announcement as to what August will/will not look like by no later than July 15th. Obviously, we hope we can share definitive details sooner, but many factors are out of our control. We need all staff, students and families to understand that the 2020-21 school year could be a very fluid situation and changes could come even after initial plans are made and announced by mid-July. No decisions have been made regarding what the 2020-21 school year will look like, and we are planning for several scenarios. Still, we want to keep our community in the loop as best we can through this ever-evolving situation. With that, please note:
- We are doing everything in our power to create a safe learning and working environment in hopes that we can bring back all of our students in August using a typical school day schedule and school-year calendar. School could start on Thursday, August 13th OR Tuesday, August 18th. We will know more in the coming weeks and will then share the school calendar we intend to use for the coming year. We value face-to-face instruction and want to have as much of that as possible in 2020-21.
- If a traditional school day is not possible/safe, even with numerous social-distancing guidelines in place, some of the alternate possibilities being discussed include having modified schedules, smaller numbers of students on site at a time for 2-3 days a week, extended campus/at-home learning, etc.
- We are also planning for the possibility of beginning the school year in August with in-person, traditional learning but then needing to close down again at some point to “re-flatten the curve.”
- If updated directed health measures require masks of all students and staff (which seems highly likely at this time) the district will provide several reusable masks for every student and staff member as needed.
- We will have extremely precise protocols in place for how to handle confirmed cases of COVID-19, including supporting documentation and communication with each case. Providing a safe learning and working environment for all is a top priority.
- We are working on plans for how to support and meet the educational needs of our students/staff who have medical documentation of compromised immune systems and may not be able to return to our schools until later in the school year.
- Lunch will likely look different with more pre-packaged items and more restrictions on what students and staff can self-serve.
- How we conduct hallway traffic, cafeteria seating, classroom seating, etc. will likely be modified to allow for as much social-distancing as possible.
- Choir and Band classes might be held outside as much as possible and/or in alternate and larger locations that allow for more social-distancing.
- Our cleaning protocols will change with different materials, points of emphasis, repetition through high traffic areas, common surfaces, etc.
- Handwashing stations will be readily available in multiple areas.
- We plan to limit the number of building visitors we accommodate at any given time and will likely require that masks be worn by the visitors we do allow in.
- Activities such as Parent-Teacher Conferences, lunch guests, and classroom parties could be restricted and much different this year.
- We intend to increase air flow and air flow exchange rates in facilities bringing clean outside air into the facility as much as possible.
- Unfortunately, due to so many unknowns at this time, our All District Back To School event planned for August has been cancelled.
We invite you to attend our Community Forums throughout the summer, whether in person or by watching/listening online. At 6:00 pm on June 25, July 16 and July 30, District leaders will share developing updates and answer your questions about plans for school in Fall of 2020. These forums will take place in the Little Theater near the main entrance of Westside High School (with limited seating due to social distancing guidelines and masks to be worn by attendees) and be shared live via Facebook (you do not need a Facebook account in order to view the forum live.) Those who do have Facebook accounts will be allowed to ask questions of our panel to be answered live or by email/phone call after. CLICK HERE to access the Westside Community Schools – District 66 Facebook page, where the live stream will take place.
Aside from all of our communication with other school districts, the Nebraska Department of Education, elected officials, Health Department leaders, and others; we also want to hear from YOU. We ask that you complete the brief survey linked below to share your potential plans and concerns for fall. This will help as we continue to work on our pandemic plan. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey below. It would be much appreciated.
In closing, please remember that no decisions have been made about August and the 2020-21 school year yet. We still don’t have many of the answers we need for August and beyond. June is a critical month for planning purposes and for our dedicated medical experts to continue to track COVID-19 and the impact throughout our community. Please rest assured we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe learning and working environment for everyone. We will send updates as they become available.
Westside Community Schools