March 20 Update
Dear Families and Friends,
This week a great deal has occurred behind the scenes as we prepare to transition to eLearning. We are in regular communication with the Connecticut Commissioner of Education as we navigate these unsettled times. This letter is longer than those previously shared to you in hope that we are able to address some of your questions and concerns as thoroughly as we can in this moment. Please remember that this is a fluid situation and that we will do our best to establish a new routine and clearly communicate expectations.
Last day of school and April break
We have been told that districts will be able to close on their originally scheduled date. In the Woodstock Public School District our last day is scheduled for June 19, 2020. April vacation will remain as such – a time to step back, breathe, and recoup - from April 13 – 17. We have not received guidance on when schools will reopen. As a district, we are preparing in case we can’t return on March 30, as hoped; however, we are optimistic that we will be able to return to our classrooms during the current school year.
The work that was sent home on Friday, March 13, was originally intended to be supplemental, but was shifted to mandatory due to a change in state guidance on March 15. Through parent feedback, we have learned and continue to learn about how long this is taking for students and adjustments that will need to be made in the future. We understand that family situations can be stressful with our “new” normal and that some parents are still working and/or working from home while students are trying to school at home. We do not want to give you more stress and we are trying to keep this balance. We ask that you do the best you can with what was assigned, do what is best for your family, and reach out to teachers directly with questions and concerns about the assignments.
Returning work packets is another challenge and we are considering our best and safest options. We will send out a separate communication about this in the future. For now, please keep the completed materials in a safe and organized space in your home.
Grading will change to pass/fail if we are out of school for an extending period of time. We will send more details about what is considered an “extended period of time” in the future as we receive more guidance from state and federal education officials. Just remind your students to do their best.
Communication and Assignments
We are working hard to coordinate and communicate assignments so that no one feels overwhelmed. This is a work in progress, and we ask for your patience. We expect to shift to a universal platform when eLearning launches with a tentative date of April 1, allowing us to be consistent across the district. Next week, our teachers will undergo training on how to use this platform. We will also create tutorials for you to learn how to use the platform to assist your child(ren).
Academic blocks will be flexible and accessible when it is convenient for your family. We will set limits on home instructional time, but we ask for your continued feedback. There will be opportunities for office hours and live discussions with teachers, as well.
This week teachers reached out to families to get information about who will need additional technology at home to support their eLearning. If you did not hear from a teacher and you have a need to borrow a school computer, please contact the principals of each school by email. We anticipate distribution of computers to families in need as early as next week. All parents will be asked to sign a waiver indicating that they understand it is their responsibility to care for the school equipment. Parents will need to supervise the use of these computers as the current filters only work on the school network. If you do not have internet at home, Spectrum is offering free internet service to families in need to help support distance learning. Please call 1-844-488-8395 for more information and instructions on how to set up this service.
Breakfast/Lunch Pick Up
Breakfast and lunch will continue to be offered to all students in K through 8. Pick up for the week of March 23 will be at the Woodstock Middle School main entrance front lobby doors on a grab and go basis between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. In order to help us appropriately plan, we ask that you email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take advantage of this service; however, this is voluntary and any student who comes to the school will be provided food.
Please keep in mind that this new “normal” is not normal. Our primary goal is to continue learning and we do not expect that parents will replace teachers. We must all take care of ourselves first. This goes for parents, students, teachers, and all staff. For this reason, we have asked that all WPS employees turn all electronic devices off by 6 p.m. If you email staff after this time, you will hear back within 24 hours. We hope that you limit the time students are working on school work, as well. Remember, health is most important and shutting off from electronics is an essential part of that.
Thank you for your continued patience and support. We will update you next week with more information as we solidify plans moving forward.
Viktor Toth, Superintendent
Kristen Elliott, WMS Principal
Joyce Gresh, WMS Vice Principal/SRBI Coordinator
Jenna Demers, WES Principal
Kim Wilson, Director of Student Services