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April 16 Superintendent's Update on COVID-19
Dear Westonka Families,
I have a shorter update for you this week related to school finances, distance learning and student celebrations. As I learn of issues that other communities are facing, it shows me what a special place Westonka is. The collaboration and effort between our staff and families has been outstanding. I do not underestimate the challenge our families are facing and cannot thank you enough for your efforts. Our success is due to this community’s collective efforts. As we await further communication from the state, we continue to focus on how we can best support our students and staff through distance learning.
Distance Learning Survey: Last week, we asked families to provide feedback on your distance learning experience thus far. Overall, our staff, students and families have a lot to be proud of about Westonka’s transition to this new learning environment. With that said, we will continue to make needed changes and adjust our plans to best serve our students.
Here is a summary of the survey results: April 2020 Distance Learning Survey Results. Due to privacy concerns, the open ended comments from this summary have been removed. Please know that all comments will be carefully reviewed by principals and administrators and acted upon appropriately. We are also in the process of collecting feedback on spring events, including graduation, and will make decisions about event dates in the coming weeks.
Establishing Routines: It is our hope that staff and families begin to feel that they are establishing routines and the work becomes familiar. Establishing routines and familiarity is critical for your student’s and family’s success. We understand the challenges associated with this distance learning model and appreciate the effort that you are putting in each day. Please reach out to your student’s teachers or administrators with questions or concerns.
Legislative Effort: Over the past week, I have been working with our finance department and local legislators, asking for flexibility with designated district funds so that our school board can determine the best use of funds that are available. Specifically, we are seeking flexibility to use designated capital funds to cover community education expenses. Community education is seeing the greatest impact of the school closure, as 75% of their revenue comes from fees. Although Westonka entered this extended school closure in a strong financial position, this flexibility is needed to allow us to continue the progress you expect in our schools.
Long-Term Planning: An incredible amount of time has been invested into the distance learning model. I am now encouraging my team to build capacity to prepare for the end of this school year and the start of next school year. This includes staffing/hiring, curriculum reviews, building repairs and maintenance, financial audit preparations, student scheduling, and event preparation. As we are committed to improving our distance learning model, we need to ensure that the school closure does not have a great impact on our plans for next year.
Student Celebrations: During this time, we are looking for new and creative ways to celebrate our students. Last week, each member of the Class of 2020 received a sign to display in their yard. We appreciate all of the staff and parent volunteers who helped with that special gesture for our seniors. We also loved seeing all of your social media posts in celebration of Westonka’s first Virtual Spirit Week, and we will continue with #WestonkaSpirit days throughout the month.
Our schools have put out some great videos that show their care for our students. Here are some examples:
- Westonka Early Learning: https://youtu.be/28doQdYXnrU
- Shirley Hills Primary School: https://www.facebook.com/
- Hilltop Primary School: https://youtu.be/okguhYgA_Sg
- Grandview Middle School: https://youtu.be/CfW7qnzRjuc
- Mound Westonka High School: https://www.facebook.com/
To honor our students, staff, community members and especially our senior class, Westonka Schools will be participating in the #BeTheLightMN movement again this Friday, April 17. The lights at Haddorff Field will flip on at 8:00 p.m. for 20 minutes and 20 seconds. We will be highlighting our baseball and softball programs during this time, paying special recognition to the seniors leaders in these programs. Please join us in posting photos, memories and messages to the teams on social media using the hashtags #BeTheLightMN and #MWHSPride.
I am continually thankful for our families’ partnership, patience and grace during this time of distance learning. We’re all in this together, and Westonka Schools is here for you.