COVID Update for WPS Families
Up to Date Information for Panther Nation
What to Expect Here
Please come back here for daily updates on the school closure and events at WPS schools as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis at Watervliet Public Schools.
A Message From Superintendent Seager
We are definitely in trying times...
As this pandemic unfolds, we want you to know that the Family of Watervliet Public Schools remains here to serve and support our community - students, staff and families. We are all in this together and our team at Watervliet Public Schools is committed to doing our part to get through this crisis together.
Our team of professional and hard-working administrators is grinding continuously through this crisis to make sure we keep our families, students and community updated. Routine updates will be posted here, along with critical releases of information and guidance. This is a continuously-unfolding event and we are committed to keeping you updated as best we can.
Our teachers are keeping instructional resources available so our students can continue to grow and learn and stay mentally sharp. While the work they are providing is not "mandatory", it is vital to help our students stay connected to learning and not slide back academically. Please encourage your children to stay engaged with the materials our teachers are creating.
Additionally, our Food Service and Transportation workers are busy every day preparing and delivering two meals each day to our sheltered students. Below is a link to the schedule for this meal service. Please, do not hesitate to take advantage of this service - even if you don't consider yourself "food insecure". If this crisis goes sideways, you will want to save up on the food you have in your freezers and refrigerators for as long as possible.
Finally, our custodial and maintenance workers are busy sanitizing, cleaning and maintaining our facilities so they are safe and ready when our students return. Their efforts are critical to the well-being of our school and school community.
Please visit the links on our website at this link and use the links in the menu to the right of that page for detailed information. We will update this site regularly throughout the mandated closure.
Below you will find links to updates, partner resources and critical information to help you and your family stay safe and informed - NOTHING is more important to us during this time. Revisit this page daily, if possible.
Finally, our contact information is shown below. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Superintendent of Schools
Watervliet Public Schools
Key Documents and Press Releases
Transcript of Mr. Seager's April 4, 2020 Community Statement
Good Afternoon Panther Nation
I’m Ric Seager, Superintendent of Schools for Watervliet Public Schools
Just over three weeks ago, we had ZERO identified cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. 23 days later, we have nearly 13,000. This disease has changed our lives in ways we are only just beginning to feel and understand. It has changed our work and changed our economy. It has exerted itself in nearly every community in the state - including our own. It has taken lives, including the lives of some of our own Panther’s family members.
This is very real!
But through all of this, we have been resolute as the Panther Nation! We have done our best to keep our promise to our students, our community and to each other.
On March 13th, we closed our schools in response to Executive Order 2020-11. While we were no longer hosting students, we still continued to serve our students and families in many ways. For example, our Food Service and Transportation teams have made and delivered over 20,000 meals to our students over the past three weeks. Our teachers and other support staff continue to reach out to our students to provide learning opportunities and to keep relationships strong. Our administration has been working closely with local, regional, state and national leaders to determine what our next steps are and help our school prepare.
On Thursday, Governor Whitmer released Executive Order 2020-35. This ordered the closure of all public K-12 school buildings and the end to “in-person instruction” for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. However, it did NOT order the end of education for the rest of the school year.
In fact, this sweeping executive order laid out very specific mandated responsibilities for schools for the remainder of the school year. Our schools will continue to serve our community through the continued provision of foodservice, the continued and expanded provision of remote learning opportunities, and will continue to support our students’ mental health and emotional well-being.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of what those three elements will look like, I want to speak to our Class of 2020 Seniors….
This unprecedented event has been devastating to what is normally a “right of passage” with predictable and long-awaited milestones. I am truly sorry that this happened YOUR senior year. But, you can bet we will always remember The Class of 2020!
So what are we to do with you?
First: If you were ready to graduate - meaning you had all your credits earned and your Merit Curriculum audit was complete - you are considered...DONE. You will graduate.
If you were on-track to graduate - meaning you were fully completed with credits and Merit Curriculum requirements and/or needed to complete a course second semester this year to be done - and you were passing your required class as of March 11, 2020, you are considered DONE.
If you were on-track to graduate as described above, and you were not passing the class or classes necessary to complete your requirements, for each class you were not passing, your teacher will provide you a Plan For Completion that will allow you the opportunity to finish on time and graduate.
If you were not on-track to graduate, Mrs. Dawson will reach out to you and discuss your next steps, which may include a Plan For Completion, virtual classes, or other opportunities for you to move toward graduation.
Details for these options will be mailed to you.
Any Senior may continue in any “non-essential course” at their own discretion. If you choose not to complete the course, the grade you had on March 11th will be the grade used to calculate your final course grade. You will not take an exam. If you choose to, or need to, continue in one or more classes, let us know and your teachers will reach out to you with the next steps.
We know you are missing many events. Mrs. Toothman and the HS Teachers are putting together a Senior Celebration Week that will happen sometime in May. Additionally, they are planning Senior Awards events and other activities. You will hear from the high school about these events.
As for the graduation ceremony itself...Watervliet Public Schools is committed, to the greatest extent possible, to holding a graduation ceremony for you. We hope that we can do this live, even if it is in July or August, and bear all the traditions of past graduations. But if it cannot, we will find a way to make public the ceremony and celebration of your graduation.
For the rest of us…
We have a timeline for developing and implementing our Continuity of Learning Plan at Watervliet Public Schools.
This coming week is Spring Break. We will continue to honor that, even though many have had their plans changed due to this outbreak.
The following week, April 13-17, our district teams will be building our Remote Learning Program. Teachers and support staff will be planning, developing, coordinating and designing learning experiences for our students.
Beginning the week of April 20, 2020, we will implement our refined Remote Learning Plan.
The plan will be executed as follows:
Elementary Schools will continue utilizing Simply Circle, Choice Boards and videos to connect students to learning activities. These will be available for each elementary grade level and will be sent out via email and via regular mail for those who need them.
Grades 9-12 will continue to have lessons sent to students via Google Classroom. We will be creating a virtual “common board” where parents will be able to find out what is being expected of the students.
We are working to acquire sufficient Chromebooks to supply all middle school students with a device. In the meantime, our staff will continue to provide activities and lessons through Google Classroom and through regular mail as needed. A similar “common board” will be created for middle school parents.
W.A.Y. students will continue their online classes as they already are.
Paper and pencil activities will be provided for anyone who we cannot get technology to and who does not have internet access. Please send an email to email@example.com if you need help with internet access. State simply, “I need help with internet access” in the subject line and leave your student’s name, your child’s school building, and a phone number where we can reach you. Someone will get back with you within a few days.
Our Intervention Team members and our Special Education teachers will be reaching out to you and your child individually.
We will be continuing our foodservice deliveries throughout this event. You can find the sites that we are delivering to on the district website, our Facebook page, the building webpages, or you can call us at (269) 463-0300 and we will tell you where to go to take advantage of the program. Please note: food will be delivered to the FRONT site only at Pleasant View Estates starting on April 6th. Also, food will not be delivered on April 10th or April 13th. However, we will be delivering five meal packs for each student on April 9th.
Our counselors remain available to support your family’s emotional and mental health. These are trying times! All of us need help from time-to-time. Please reach out to our counselors and we will help your family or direct you to help. There are many resources available on our district website and on links on our district Facebook page. Please let us know if you need our help. We are your partner and will do our best to support all of our Panthers through this crisis.
I do want to refer our parents to the link shown on the screen (https://bit.ly/2wcuby5). Our teachers will continue to be the leaders and key point of contact for your child’s education. We know that you are going through this crisis too, and we want to do our part to support you, and not further burden you. Please take a moment to read the article, which we will also share on our district website and Facebook page.
This is a lot to digest. No one expects you to fully understand this now. I will be hosting a Virtual Town Hall Meeting from 5 to 6 PM on Monday, April 6th. The link will be shared on the district webpage and the district Facebook page. This will be a moderated meeting. Questions will be allowed in the chat room and will be read and answered online. Please feel free to bring your questions to this meeting.
Also, please know that this will, in no way, be the only communication you receive from us regarding our plans. The entire process is fluid and will be adapted and adjusted to assure we meet the needs of our community in the best manner possible. Please continue to refer to the resources that we have made available and continue to reach out with questions and concerns.
Working Together to Keep US Together
We will be challenged to live up to this motto. But, as I said before, I know we are up to the challenge. I know we are bigger than this crisis! I know we will be stronger than ever when this is over!
Enjoy time with your family and stay safe.
And, as always, Go Panthers!
Transcript of Mr Seager's Video Comments on March 29th
Good Evening Panther Nation:
I’m Ric Seager, Superintendent of Watervliet Public Schools
Working Together to Keep Us Together
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our school motto.
What does this really mean?
How do we live up to this?
What is our part?
The past few weeks have tested the resolve and resiliency of our nation, our state, our community, and our school district in ways we have not seen for generations. The heavy burden that COVID-19 - this little clump of DNA - has laid on all nations of the world should generate in us a bit of humility and a better sense of just how much we really do control...and how much we don’t.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge first the struggle this has placed on all of us.
- For some, this has been an inconvenience that has disrupted routines and challenged the rhythms of our lives.
- For many, this has meant a stoppage in our work and threatens our abilities to meet the needs of our families and our households
- For others still, this threatens not just their security and comfort, but their health. Even as I speak, the count of those infected with this disease rises - some will pay the ultimate price.
We all would do well to take a moment today, and each day after, to pray for the well-being of all affected by this and pray for strength and fortitude in our community.
Certainly, our entire school community has been affected by this outbreak;
- Our students have lost their routines and their connections to their peers that form the foundation of our learning community
- In particular, our seniors are experiencing the end of their high school education in a manner none of us have experienced before.
- Our parents have had thrust upon them the new role of “principal educator” for their children - a role they have always had to some degree, but certainly in a different way
- Our administrators, teachers and other support staff are scrambling to develop new infrastructure, learn new methods, and build new skills to execute their mandate - and calling - to educate our students.
And, our community and businesses are suffering an economic disaster that threatens their ability to keep our community vitality strong and prosperous.
But our school motto - “Working Together to Keep Us Together” - means more today than ever before!
It is more important than ever that we LIVE this motto - not just state it!
We are being tested! And it is through tests like these that we build our strength, our resilience, and our togetherness.
We will be stronger! We will be more together! We will be a more ferocious Panther Nation than ever before!
Our school buildings may be closed, but our school is hardly idled! The entire district is hard at work making sure we are taking up our burden and assuring we do our part to keep our promise to the motto!
Our bus drivers and food service workers are giving of themselves DAILY to assure our poor and working-class students still have access to nourishment. Terry Adams, Mark Isbrecht and their teams of heroes have made and delivered upwards of 15,000 meals over the past two weeks!
This effort will continue, and grow, as long as it is needed. Please, if you have the need, do not be too proud to take advantage of this service! No one wants to believe that they are unable to meet the needs of their children. Proud Panthers never give up on the hunt! But it is times like these that we need and rely on EACH OTHER to meet the needs that exist in our community. We have 9 sites we go to each weekday - rain, shine, or whatever comes our way. PLEASE, take advantage of this effort and don’t be afraid to lean on this service if you have the need.
Our administrators have been meeting, virtually, daily, working with educational leaders from all over our region to determine the path forward for how we will educate our students, keep our employees whole, and build a system that will be beneficial for our students, staff, and community. I will speak more about this later. But know we are working on the best way forward, under these trying circumstances.
Know this: Our teachers have been meeting with each other and their principals twice weekly and developing plans, processes, and practices that will allow us to best meet our educational charge. Our Board of Education is committed to doing everything they can to provide whatever support we can to serve our school community.
Students: We need you to STAY ENGAGED!! We all need you to do your part by keeping up with the work and assignments that are being given to you by your teachers. IT ALL COUNTS!!! Rumors and claims that the work you are being given does not count are NOT TRUE. While HOW we grade and How we evaluate will evolve and change as this all plays out, you need to know we WILL grade and we WILL evaluate. We will NOT give up on our calling to educate you to the best of our abilities.
That is our PROMISE to you.
We care deeply and personally about each one of you and will not give up on our efforts to help you build the future you deserve.
Don’t you give up!!
So what can we expect in the coming days and weeks?
- We are expecting a statement from our Governor sometime early this next week that will determine our next course of action. At Watervliet Public Schools, we have been gaming different scenarios and playing out different themes, based on what may come from our political leaders. We will be ready for whatever path we are required to take.
- Our state’s Department of Education has been developing plans and contingencies to assure the best possible outcome for student learning.
- As decisions are made and plans are implemented, we will provide a more complete and transparent plan for delivering future learning opportunities.
- We need you to support your students by holding them accountable for staying up with whatever coursework is given to them
- We need you to stay steadfast to the principle that this DOES MATTER.
- We need you to STAY ENGAGED.
- Read every single day - multiple times a day
- When given an assignment, complete it to the best of your ability.
- If the school closure is extended, we will most likely be looking at different manners of grading. Our goal is to make sure you have an opportunity to pass all your classes and move forward with your educational plans.
To the Class of 2020 our Seniors:
- Your class will be remembered for pulling together - living our motto - and for dragging this challenge across the finish line.
- We know this is almost surreal for you! No one hearing these words has experienced this kind of event their Senior year in school.
- Know that we are committed to making sure you get your opportunity to graduate and be acknowledged as graduates.
- Panthers DO NOT give up! They DO NOT throw in the towel! They DO NOT call it quits just because it is hard or unique!
- Panthers FINISH!!
- We will do everything we can to Win the Day!
- You must do your part by staying engaged to the finish - whatever that looks like.
Together, we will get through this crisis.
Together, we will build a Panther Nation stronger than ever
Together, we will do whatever we need to keep us together
There are some things we all can do, perhaps MUST do:
- Take this opportunity to talk to one another - build family connections at a personal level. For most of us, our lives have been built around the routines of work, school, events - things that keep us apart from one another for an extended time each day. Take this opportunity to re-connect as a family
- Read together - reading is the most foundational skill in our society - the basic skill upon which all of modern civilization was built. Take this time to extend and develop this skill.
- And most of all - take this time to reflect upon and tell each other how much you mean to one another. We are all in this together!
Working Together to Keep Us Together!
What a perfect motto for this time!
But, it’s more than just a motto! Let us renew our commitment to live this motto in our lives and come out the other end of this crisis stronger than ever!
Stay tuned to Facebook and School Messenger for more details in the coming days.
And, as always, Watervliet Public Schools is your partner in our community and committed more than ever to be a servant and a source of pride.
May God Bless all our Panthers and our Panther community!
Watervliet Public Schools
Phone Calls to WPS Schools
Please be sure to leave a message so we can get back to you. Your call is important to us.
Also, thank you in advance for your patience as we navigate this and find the best ways to serve our school community.
Releases from Our Partners
Links to Educational Resources
ONLINE Kindergarten Roundup - Information and Forms
Thursday, March 19th, 6pm
This is an online event.
Taking Care Emotionally During Crisis
Children's Mobile Intensive Crisis Team
(no insurance needed/no out of pocket costs, they turn no family away)