WPS Covid 19 Updates

A Message from Dr. Gough

September 11, 2020


Dear Walpole Public Schools Community:


What a difference a year makes. We are excited to welcome back our students on Monday, September 14. Our staff have been actively engaged in professional development that includes safety and cleaning protocols and strategies for educating in both hybrid and remote learning models. I would like to thank them for their hard work. I would also like to thank our Leadership Team and Building Level Advisory Teams who worked throughout the summer to safely open our buildings, not focusing on what they couldn’t do, but instead focusing on what they could do, as they problem solved and developed solutions.


We have spent the summer months getting ready to execute the safety guidelines and best practices based on guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the medical community. We have developed sanitizing protocols, discovered new ways to utilize space, and purchased vital personal protective equipment, all with the central goal to make sure our school buildings are as safe as possible. It will require the continued partnership between schools and families to ensure that students are wearing their masks, washing their hands, and physical distancing. However, the most important thing you can do as a parent/caregiver is to keep students at home at the first sign of a symptom or exposure to the virus. Families will soon be receiving an email to review the COVID-19 Daily Health Assessment and Attestation form. Please follow the directions in the document to complete the form acknowledging and agreeing to review the symptom checklist prior to sending your child to school).


Given the heightened importance of communication over the next several months, we would

ask that you please check your emails daily and don’t hesitate to reach out to your teachers and building principals with questions. We have also posted a Frequently Asked Questions document on our website. This document contains information about cleaning and disinfecting protocols, health and safety protocols, remote and hybrid learning, and transportation.


Our mission to educate all students to achieve success has not changed. However, Covid-19 has required us to take a new path to achieve our goals. Much of what we are accomplishing today would not have been possible even ten years ago. We are prepared to work collaboratively, learn from our experiences, and continue to improve as an educational community. We will ensure that our students are supported socially, emotionally, and academically; but this school year will require us to be more patient, more flexible, and more creative than we have ever been before. We are up for the challenge and grateful for your partnership in the work.


“It always seems impossible until it’s done” (Nelson Mandela). It can and it will be done, together. I look forward to the day when we can all be physically together to celebrate our successes and move on to the next chapter of our educational journey.


Normally, I would end my communication with “stay healthly and safe”. Given today’s date, September 11, I feel it is important to recognize the 19 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Although it was 19 years ago, many of us can remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in the field of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In honor of those who lost their lives, today is also known as Patriot Day and a National Day of Service. The best way to honor this day is to pay it forward, in memory of those who can no longer do that. Let us use this remembrance as an opportunity to perform a random act of kindness or just extend a hand to someone who needs it. Let us use this remembrance to emphasize volunteerism and service, honoring those who lost their lives, those citizens who volunteered in the aftermath, and those who continue to serve our communities and country.


Bridget A. Gough, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

A Message from Dr. Gough

July 24, 2020


Dear Members of the Walpole Public Schools Community:



As you may know, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requiring all school systems to share a preliminary plan for returning to school that includes three scenarios: a plan for all students returning to school in person, a plan for a hybrid model where students spend some time in school in person and some time learning at home, and a full remote learning plan where all learning is done from home. The administrative team has been working diligently to develop a draft of these plans, and they were presented at the School Committee meeting this afternoon.


Flexibility and fluidity are essential during this time, and it has been made clear that the guidance is subject to change based on developments in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic. DESE requested that districts upload their initial three models by July 31, 2020. By August 10th, we will submit the finalized model to DESE and publish the plan to the community that includes details for opening in September. This additional time will provide districts with an opportunity to incorporate any changes based on further guidance from DESE and develop detailed schedules and plans to support a safe opening of schools.


In the interest of full transparency, as of today’s date, we will be planning to implement the hybrid model in the fall. After reviewing the three models, soliciting feedback from community stakeholders and working with other districts across the state, we believe this is the best model at this time. The hybrid model allows for class sizes that align with our physical distancing goals of 6 feet and operational plans related to health and safety while meeting both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Walpole Health Department recommended guidelines.


Students will be assigned to cohorts and alternate between in-person and remote learning opportunities on a regular schedule. I have included an example below to demonstrate how this model could be implemented. Students in this mode of learning will attend full school in-person twice per week (days depending on cohort assigned) and engage in full remote learning twice per week. On Mondays, educators will meet with all of their students in a shortened and combined remote synchronous meeting. Mondays will be an early release day in order to give staff a chance to thoroughly clean school buildings, address the implementation of health and safety protocols, and provide additional interventions. In the event there is a federal holiday we will prioritize in-school days for students. In the event there is no school on a day during a given week due to a state or federal holiday, the Monday schedule will be dropped in favor of replacing any lost in-person day. For example, if Tuesday were a holiday, the Monday schedule for that week would become an in-person day. The majority of students will be assigned a cohort by alphabet, and siblings will be kept in the same cohort K-12. The following diagram displays an example of the hybrid model:


We understand that the hybrid model is disruptive for families and childcare. However, we believe this scenario will enable a smooth transition to both the full in-person and full remote learning model should the health guidelines change. PreK will continue to follow their typical daily schedule with minimal disruption. If space and staffing allow, we are examining ways to enable K students to return in-person each day. Additionally, we are working with the Town of Walpole to possibly offer child care during the days of remote instruction for Walpole residents.


Regardless of what model we choose, the state has recognized the need to provide additional days for training and preparation. DESE is currently considering a waiver for the 180 school day requirement for student learning in order to give staff additional days for training and preparation. Therefore, we are proposing to start the school year for students on Tuesday, September 8th (after Labor Day). More information regarding the calendar change will be provided at the beginning of August.


I am including additional information on protocols for responding to specific COVID-19 scenarios this fall. Please note that CDC protocols related to this topic may be released in the coming weeks, and this guidance may be updated accordingly. This guidance provides more information and protocols to answer additional questions.


Upon release of the final plan, we will provide a forum for both elementary and secondary parents to answer questions and address concerns. We understand that this is a very difficult time and that not knowing what the return to school will look like is unsettling. We are working diligently to ensure accurate communication while responding to the ever-changing nature of this pandemic.


Stay healthy and safe,


Bridget A. Gough, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

A Message from Dr. Gough

June 25, 2020



Dear Members of the Walpole Public Schools Community:


Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall. We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance. Similar to this guidance, our goal is to safely return as many students as possible to in-person learning. Your feedback is an important part of our planning for a fall opening. Parents/guardians are asked to check their emails in order to complete an initial survey.


Over the coming days, we will be reviewing the guidance to begin to understand how it impacts what we can do in WPS. We also acknowledge that these initial guidelines do not address every topic and that there will be additional guidance coming throughout the summer. The full document can be found here, but here are some key components:


  • Current medical research supports a safe in-person return to school - with preventive measures in place - as infection and transmission rates are lower for children than adults.

  • Preventive measures include masks/face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces

  • Masks/face coverings will be required for all students in Grade 2 and above and for all adults; they are recommended for students in Grade 1 and below

  • Based on current medical research, and in conjunction with other preventive measures, a minimum physical distance of three feet has been established.


Districts will be required to develop three separate plans ranging from students returning to full in-person instruction with safety requirements, one for hybrid learning model that combines in-person and remote learning, and one for full remote learning. Based upon the current medical situation, the expectation today emphasizes students returning to full in-person instruction as the primary objective; however, that is subject to change based upon how the medical situation develops


We acknowledge that there are likely to be more questions than answers at this time and will continue to update you as we proceed with our planning process. We also encourage you to read the full document. Our leadership team will need time to review the guidelines. We are working through these issues at unprecedented times, which takes a great deal of time and planning. It will require patience and understanding among all of us.


Stay healthy and safe,


Bridget A. Gough, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

A Message from Dr. Gough

June 18, 2020


Dear Walpole Public Schools Community,


This week marks the last week of school. It goes without saying that this year was unique. I could never have imagined my first year as Superintendent would include a global pandemic and almost 4 months of remote learning. However, I remain grateful and humbled by working with so many great students, staff and families. It has been an honor to serve as your superintendent this school year.


Next week, after receiving initial guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we will be sending a parent survey to ensure we use your feedback to guide our grade level advisory groups as we plan for the next school year. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey. We will be working through the summer to ensure a smooth reopening, and as always, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we respond to the guidance from DESE. I will not be sending weekly updates through the summer, but please rest assured that I will share all pertinent information as we coordinate for reopening.


Congratulations to the WHS Best Buddies for receiving the Best Buddies International Outstanding Virtual Chapter Award throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island Area. Our current President, Evelyn Abbott, and our VP, Brendan Mahoney, worked tirelessly during the pandemic to make sure everyone stayed connected. Brendan Mahoney, our future President, accepted the award last night on the Instagram Live Ceremony. We are so proud of the resilience, dedication, and commitment of all of our members!


Finally, congratulations to all of our students in PreK-12. I hope you have a great summer. I leave you with the link to our Walpole Public Schools Virtual District Art Show. Thank you to the art department for their dedication and for providing a format that features our students’ work.


Stay healthy and safe,


Bridget A. Gough, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Bridging the Gap

Grade 7 Informational Reading and Writing classes wrote human interest stories and learned valuable writing and interview skills. You can visit Bridging the Gap Website to read other stories they completed by clicking the Bridging the Gap bar above.

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