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News and Notes

Midweek Update

Tom DeKeyser, Superintendent and WLMS/HS Principal

Welcome to Day 3 of our COVID-19 Continuity of Learning Plan (COL).  What is a Continuity of Learning Plan? From March 16 to April 10, school districts in Michigan could only provide enrichment and review activity.  The latest executive order from our governor allows WLPS to advance its curriculum. With this new COL plan in place, our kids will advance their knowledge as we move our curriculum forward through the end of the school year.

I presented the COL plan to the WLPS BOE.  Many concerns of parents and students were shared during the hour-long Q and A.   I believe the COL plan addresses all of them. I’ll highlight some in this correspondence.   However, it is important to remember that the COL plan can be changed as we gain more information about its effectiveness and gain insight from our governor and legislature.  It is worth noting that our BOE is extremely interested in the health and well being of our students. In the end, they endorsed the plan and unanimously praised all WLPS educators for their work.

The COL plan addresses multiple factors associated with learning:  student engagement, student health and well-being, content access, teacher access, and methods, to name a few.  Below are some updates on how the COL is working, as well as some reminders.

Student Engagement:

  • Days 1 and 2 of the COL were about engaging with teachers and learning how to access lessons.
  • Proudly, WLPS students engaged at very high levels.  Some grades had 100% attendance. Most were in the mid-90s.  This is awesome! Many districts are struggling to get to 50%.
  • Today, Day 3, it felt like we were starting to settle in.  A few questions still exist, but we are addressing them one by one.

Office Hours:

  • Teachers have established office hours in an effort to work through some of the challenges associated with distance learning.
  • Teachers have been directed to identify at least one late afternoon/early evening session per week so parents who work can listen in and gain an understanding of how to clear up problems with our learning expectations.
  • A huge “thanks” to teachers/staff who are working like crazy to get our kids through this latest hurdle in life.  I know some who spent hours on email or on the phone making sure their students were able to access the content of the lesson.

WLES:

  • Packets of school work (e.g. workbooks, paper-pencil activities,…) are available for pickup each Tuesday at 9:30-11:30 AM and 5:00-7:00 PM.
  • Ms. Wanamaker will be making weekly announcements to address the logistics of packet pickup.
  • We are expecting the volume of packets to be reduced as our technology usage increases.
  • Technology is being used with all our elementary students.  Our K-2 teachers are reaching our younger learners using Seesaw.
  • Students in grades 3-6 were given Google accounts and their teachers are using Google Classroom to share content and lessons.

WLMS/HS

  • Seniors, a separate email was sent out last week which started to address issues associated with our senior class.   We will continue to treat this group of students in a special category as WLPS moves forward with its COL plan.
  • Graduation plans and all things associated with it are on the minds of many.  For now, I can only work with the amount of leeway the governor extends in her executive order.  But, the minute I am given some latitude, the planning begins for a celebration of the Class of 2020.
  • Athletic Director, Brad McCormack, updated the BOE on a league idea to host a virtual Olympics.  We are looking forward to that information being shared with our students in the near future.

Food:

  • Service has been ongoing since the closure.  This group of WLPS employees has been relentlessly working to feed our community.
  • To date, close to 5,000 meals have been served.

Technology:

  • For many students, the backbone of our COL Plan is a Chromebook or an iPad.
  • WLPS has distributed hundreds of devices to our students.
  • If you are in need of a device to participate in COL, please email the Director of Technology, Karen Sterzik.  Karen will coordinate a time to pick up a device. karen.sterzik@wlps.net

I will continue to monitor the COL plan and provide updates weekly.  Distance learning brings with it a whole new set of anxieties. The plan has built-in safety nets to catch kids who struggle.  As parents, please trust in the resiliency of your kids. They can do this. Take it day by day. And, remember, each day is a great day to a Trojan.

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