Virtual Town Halls set on reopening of school

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Virtual Town Halls set on reopening of school
Reopening schools: Fall 2020

Beginning next week, our district will hold virtual Town Halls to hear feedback from students, staff, families and the community on initial committee recommendations for how learning might look this fall.

The ideas that will be presented are the result of extensive work by two planning teams — one focused on academics, and another on operations. Collectively, the two planning committees were made up of nearly 170 staff, family, student and community members.

As always, our priority in reopening our schools is the health and safety of our students, staff and families. Schools that meet in person will be required to follow the Department of Health’s health and safety guidelines, including requirements around physical distancing (6 feet), face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE).

 

Given that we do not have space in our classrooms to accommodate all students in our schools while adhering to the state’s health and safety physical distancing guidelines, the following are committee recommendations for reopening schools that will be discussed at the Town Halls listed at the end of this news article:

 

Hybrid learning

 

  1. Implement a hybrid learning model. In this model, students would:
    • Attend school in person two days a week on alternating days (e.g. Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday). Students districtwide would be divided into two groups, with half attending school in person on any one day. The hybrid schedule will allow for fewer students in the building at a time, making it possible to maintain 6-foot physical distancing and meet other state health and safety requirements.
    • Learn remotely on the three days of the week they are not in school. With half of the students attending in person two days and the other half attending in person two other days, that leaves one day where all students would do remote learning. The committee was split on whether that day should be on Wednesday or on Friday. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
  2. Offer families the option to enroll their students in a full-time OSD online distance learning model (not attending school in person).
  3. Have all schools districtwide use one learning platform — “Schoology.” The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recommends that school districts have one learning platform, and we also heard this request from many parents who filled out our recent district surveys. Schoology is a Learning Management System (LMS) currently used extensively in our middle and high schools. This is how teachers communicate assignments and other work with students.
  4. Professional Development for staff. Using a Racial Equity/Culturally responsiveness lens, staff will be trained on 1) Best Practices for online learning and hybrid models, 2) In-person video conferencing, 3) Front-loading activities/resources/projects, 4) Social-Emotional Supports/Trauma-Informed Practices, and 5) Balancing Social-Emotional Learning and Academics to better ensure uniform expectations for students and families across classrooms and schools.
  5. Offer training and supports for families. Families would receive help, for example, with understanding the Schoology learning platform used by their children’s teachers; in-person safe return to school protocols; at-home learning supports such as time management, organization and motivation; and social-emotional support.

 

Virtual Town HallsThere are still many details to be worked out for each of the ideas listed above, including reviewing all of the options with our bargaining partners. We also have small workgroups delving more deeply into the fall reopening plan, including examining how we might meet OSPI’s request to prioritize services for “students furthest from educational justice and those who require (more) in-person services to fulfill their basic education needs...including students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, students experiencing poverty, students of color and other student groups.” This could include an extended schedule for some of our youngest learners. Once the plan is developed, it requires school board approval before it is sent to OSPI. The board has scheduled a special meeting on Monday, August 3, 2020. Plans are to bring a proposed plan to the board at that time. The online board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. A Zoom link will be shared closer to the meeting date.

Your input is crucial to this planning process. There are two town halls that will focus on the elementary level, one during the day and one at night; two town halls that will focus on the middle and high school levels, one during the day and one at night; and one town hall for any students interested in providing feedback. It is not necessary to attend more than one Town Hall per level, as the same information will be repeated. Some Olympia School Board members will be joining the Superintendent at these Town Halls, and there will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions.

For those unable to attend the virtual meetings, video recordings of the meetings are posted on the Fall 2020 School Reopening Plans webpage. We also welcome you to email your questions or comments about the committee recommendations to: reopeningschools@osd.wednet.edu

You are also welcome to learn more about the planning work to date on the Fall 2020 School Reopening Plans webpage on the district website. There are agendas and meeting summaries from the academic and operational fall contingency planning committees, as well as links to OSD survey results, OSPI school reopening guidance and research articles.

Town Halls: Reopening OSD Schools Fall 2020

Wednesday, July 15; 6 p.m.
Elementary Focus
Zoom link to join the webinar

Thursday, July 16; 6 p.m.
Middle and High Focus
Zoom link to join the webinar

Tuesday, July 21; 1 p.m.
Elementary Focus
Zoom link to join the webinar

Wednesday, July 22; 1 p.m.
Student Feedback Session
Zoom link to join the webinar

Thursday, July 23; 1 p.m.
Middle and High Focus
Zoom link to join the webinar