Heights Family Update – 7/28/2020

July 28, 2020

Dear Wisconsin Heights Families,

During the last three weeks, the fall reopening of public schools has taken center stage in local, state, and national discussions. All school districts, urban, suburban and rural, are wrestling with how to safely reopen schools for our kids, families, and staff. We all have watched shifts in fall reopening philosophy from districts across the country, and read or heard the disorienting discussions play out on social media and in the news. While the Wisconsin Heights School District takes these events into consideration, we know that our local situation does not look the same as California, Florida or Texas. In the Wisconsin Heights School District, we collected ideas, models and frameworks from around the world and evaluated them, continued monitoring public health requirements, and collected feedback from our school community to determine our best fall reopening option.

We want to thank you for participating in the fall planning survey. As an administrative team, we have listened to the voices of our families and staff and want to share with you our fall plan.

What we heard from staff and parents: With over 85% of our parents and guardians completing the Parent/Guardian survey, and with 132 staff returning the Staff survey, we believe this data, along with further staff engagement in the last two weeks, has provided clear feedback for fall planning. The number one concern of parents and staff was keeping all people in the schools safe and healthy (Survey data, July 2020).

This feedback coincides with our number one commitment as a school district – we want students and staff to be safe and to feel safe. The feedback from parents and staff, in addition to the Public Health Madison & Dane County school reopening requirements, would guide our decision.

The following plan was presented to the School Board on July 27:

  • First Quarter instruction during the 2020-21 School Year will be delivered via an Enhanced Online Environment (September 1 – November 4).
  • Staff will complete between eight and sixteen hours of additional learning on the Learning Management System, Schoology, between now and August 23.
  • Staff will start on August 24 and work through August 27 on-site to prepare for enhanced online learning. We anticipate that on-site work will be a critical component of the plan for student
    learning this fall. The administrative team will be meeting to establish expectations for staff related to enhanced online learning for the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year. Updated
    guidance and expectations will be shared as soon as feasibly possible.
  • Students will begin Enhanced Online Learning on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. Please see below for details about the student learning schedule.
  • We will continue to work with Public Health Madison & Dane County to monitor countywide health metrics and to engage with staff and parents to determine our best option for the second
    quarter and second semester. We anticipate that small groups of students will begin accessing in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so, and we commit to bringing all students back on-site when we feel that is a responsible and safe decision.
  • Students receiving special education services will have individualized plans. The special education teacher will work with families to determine the best plan given the child’s needs.
  • We will prepare and present a monthly report for the School Board, updating them and our community on the decision-making process for the second quarter.

We recognize that distance learning this spring was designed in response to a national crisis. We are thoughtfully planning for a robust student learning structure for fall.

Student Learning Schedule:

  • Student learning will take place Monday-Friday, following the existing 2020-21 school calendar:
    Schedules for whole group/small group synchronous learning will be created for staff/students.

We believe our employees are essential to student success, and all will be asked to actively engage in our instructional model in the fall of 2020. As such, some employees may be asked to complete duties outside of their normal responsibilities in order to meet our core mission.

The Mission of the Wisconsin Heights School District captures our promise of providing relevant, engaging, and innovative learning experiences. As we apply what we learned from our first endeavor of district-wide distance learning from last spring, we are working on systems for a greater focus on peer-to-peer connections and student/staff relationships.

This decision was made in an effort to prepare to deliver mission-grounded instruction to every student, every day. Indeed, our students deserve our best and most collaborative work this fall.
As always, if you have any questions, contact me. I wish you the very best during these summer days, and I look forward to our work this fall.

Sincerely,

Jordan Sinz
District Administrator
Wisconsin Heights School District