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Superintendent's Update Aug. 3, 2021
Borg Report August 3, 2021
I have appreciated the engagement of our staff and families as Westonka Public Schools prepares for the new school year. We have had a successful summer of activities, Adventure Club, and summer school, and I’m looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to school fully in person on Tuesday, September 7.
As has been the case throughout this pandemic, Westonka Schools will prioritize and protect in-person learning opportunities for our students this year. The District will follow all state and federal requirements related to COVID-19 and will adjust protocols and procedures as needed in order to keep our kids safely in school.
As we look to the fall, the social distancing, cohorting and capacity requirements that were in place during the 2020-21 school year have all been lifted. Families and staff can expect to receive more information about Westonka’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols for 2021-22 in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we have been getting some questions about the recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) masking guidance for schools. Please see below for Westonka’s current plans regarding face masks for the fall.
- Mask Guidance for Westonka School Buildings: Westonka continues to follow masking guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health, which states that all students, staff and visitors are recommended—but not required—to wear face coverings/masks while indoors at school, regardless of vaccination status.
- Mask Requirement for School Transportation: By current CDC order, students and staff are required to wear face coverings/masks on school buses.
- Mask Guidance for Sports and Activities: The Minnesota State High School League will determine face covering/mask guidance for activities.
It’s important to note that Westonka’s COVID-19 policies could change at any time based on further state or federal direction, or in response to rising cases in our schools or community. Health and safety-related decisions will be made in consultation with MDH. All COVID-related updates will be posted on the district website: www.westonka.k12.mn.us/covid19.
Other Important Updates:
- Distance Learning: Based on spring survey results and a lack of interest in distance learning among our school families, Westonka Public Schools will not be offering a distance learning option for grades K-7 in 2021-22. Mound Westonka High School will have online course offerings available for grades 8-12 through an outside provider.
- COVID-19 Vaccinations: The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for individuals 12 years and older. MDH recommends vaccination for students 12 and up. Families should consult with their medical provider. Proof of vaccination will not be required of students or staff to attend school/work. Find your vaccine at Vaccines.gov.
- Transportation Registration: Westonka Public Schools families are asked to share their transportation plans in Skyward Family Access beginning on Wednesday, August 4. Please log in to Skyward Family Access and navigate to the Online Forms tab to fill out one transportation registration form for each student in your family. All primary school families should fill out the form and indicate after school plans, even if their student(s) will not be riding the bus this year. Note: If you do not fill out the transportation registration form, the district will assume that you do not need transportation for your student(s).
- Application for Educational Benefits: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allowing schools to provide meals free of charge for the 2021-22 school year. Even so, it's extremely important to fill out the free/reduced meal application (Application for Educational Benefits) to continue to receive discounted services, including reduced activity fees and other benefits. Learn more and apply at www.westonkafoodies.com.
- Back-to-School Dates: The 2021-22 District Calendar is posted on the district website: www.westonka.k12.mn.us/calendar. Watch for communication from your child’s school and visit the school website for information on Open House and other back-to-school events.
- Summer Construction: As you may have noticed, construction work on Sunnyfield Road near Mound Westonka High School is now underway. Please have patience and drive with caution through the work area. Work is expected to finish by the end of August. For updates on this project, please visit the City of Minnetrista website: www.cityofminnetrista.com.
When we started this pandemic journey together in spring of 2020, I shared three tenets of my guiding post for leading the district:
- Prioritize the safety of our students and staff. Throughout this pandemic, we have created safe and healthy learning environments by following MDE and MDH requirements. This direction has served us well.
- Provide the very best education and support we can for students with the resources available. We know that it is critically important to have kids in school, and our efforts will center on ensuring this can happen.
- Apply humanity and show empathy in all decisions as we continue this work. Our ability to show empathy for each other this past year helped us make the best of a difficult situation. We know that our students, staff and families will be entering this new school year with diverse needs, hopes, fears and perspectives. If we are all willing to practice empathy first and respect one another, we will truly be doing what’s best for our students and setting our schools up for a successful year.
Please watch for more information from the district and your school building prior to the start of school. We look forward to welcoming you back on Tuesday, September 7!