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March 19 Superintendent's Update on COVID-19
March 19, 2020
Dear Westonka Families,
Over the past several days, I know that you have received a lot of communication from the district, school principals and teachers in regards to the school closure. The goal of my communication today is to help organize some information and set our direction as we head into the coming weeks.
First, I need to start with how appreciative I am of the efforts by Westonka Public Schools staff in navigating these unprecedented times. They have upheld my guiding tenets of ensuring the safety of our school community, providing the best possible education we can for students, and showing humanity and empathy to those we work with and serve.
I know firsthand that some of you receiving this communication are now unemployed and desperately trying to find work, have loved ones in the hospital and are dealing with the hardship of visitor restrictions, are processing lost opportunities from weddings to activities to travel, and much more.
In the enormity of messages I have received this week, the common thread is, “How can I help?” This is the soul of this community. This is what makes Westonka special - we not only have the small school advantage, we have the small town advantage.
As we move forward, I have a few ideas:
Meet as a family on what schoolwork will look like in your household. You have received, or will be receiving, communication from your principal about your child’s distance learning plan should the governor extend the school closure. We understand the challenge distance learning poses to families. As educators, we know our students’ unique needs and learning styles and have built careers around instruction and assessments that maximize their abilities. We now need to partner with you more than ever in helping your kids.
We understand that you have other jobs in addition to supporting your child’s learning. Establishing family structures/expectations around when students wake up, where they will do their work, when they will take breaks, and how you will monitor progress in the new distance learning schedules are good to establish ahead of time.
Get your technology ready. As many of you have already done, take time to get your child’s district-issued device set up for distance learning. If students/parents experience difficulties with any of the online tools, logging into a specific app or connecting to your wireless internet, they are asked to fill out the Parent & Student Technology Support Form. Note: the response time for this form may be delayed over Spring Break.
Have patience and try to be flexible. In my opinion, there is no better educational delivery than having kids in schools; however, these times call for a new model. As we implement distance learning, we ask for your patience and flexibility. Please know that our teachers and staff are doing the very best they can for your child. In the coming days/weeks, we will review our models and focus on continuous improvement.
Support local businesses. Please consider patronizing our local businesses and restaurants that are remaining open with new safety measures. They are trying to keep their employees, and your business makes that possible. Many are thinking creatively about how they can safely continue their operations.
Be safe and stay home. Kids are going to want to get together with friends and be out and about. It’s vitally important that we help protect the most vulnerable members of our community by staying home and practicing social distancing. Please continue to follow the public health guidelines for your kids and family.
Update on services during school closure:
Building/Teacher Access - Our school buildings will be closed to the public during an extended school closure, with the exception of our emergency child care program. Should distance learning begin on Monday, March 30, teachers and administrators will be available by email or voicemail from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Our staff will not be returning communication over Spring Break, March 23-27.
Emergency Worker Childcare - In the event of an extended school closure, Westonka will continue to offer care to children of emergency workers. Families must register for this service. It will not be available over Spring Break. Please review the Emergency Childcare Registration Process and contact Child Care Coordinator Ashley Tupper with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (952) 491-8046. If you live in the district and are interested in having transportation provided for your child to and/or from Emergency Childcare, please make sure to email Ashley with your needs so this can be arranged. Transportation will only be provided for school hours (8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.).
Food Support Funded by the USDA, Not Westonka Schools - The Westonka Foodies have been busy providing breakfast and lunch to students all week. Today, they started a dual delivery model with food offered via curbside pickup outside the Westonka Performing Arts Center at Mound Westonka High School and at designated school bus locations. Meals will continue to be provided in the event of an extended closure. Additionally, Westonka Foodies will be delivering food support bags supplied by WeCAN and the Westonka Food Shelf along with the school meals on Friday, March 20. If food support is needed during Spring Break, families are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Westonka Food Shelf and WeCAN.
For bus stop pickup, families are asked to complete the online order form by 8 p.m. in order for meals to be delivered the next day. MWHS curbside pickup, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, does not require pre-order. Meals may also be ordered by calling (952) 491-8088; please leave a voicemail. Every meal served helps to provide additional funds to Westonka Schools.
If families are homebound, please leave a voicemail at (952) 491-8084 to request meals to be delivered directly to an address. We can deliver multiple days worth of meals at one stop.
Ongoing Communication - School principals and teachers will continue to communicate about distance learning structure and lessons. I will be communicating again with you once we have the governor’s direction on a school closure starting March 30.
Thank you for your support and cooperation during the past week. On behalf of our staff and school board, we are proud and ready to serve this community during this time.
With great respect,