Moving Forward Together!
August 14, 2020
As we approach the Fall, we are all preparing for a season of change. Generally, during this time of year, students are back to school shopping with their parents and teachers are beginning to prepare their classrooms. Instead, students will see their friends and teachers on a computer screen, and parents are problem-solving household schedules in preparation for distance learning. The question on everyone’s mind is, ‘What will a normal day look like this Fall?’
The plans need to be as varied as the individual needs of each age group and school. For example, what makes sense for W.F. West will not make sense for Lintott. Our students’ social and emotional needs will differ, and how we use technology will be adapted accordingly. But some plans are standard for all grade levels. For example, everyone can expect the following:
- All students will receive a Chromebook for home use. Dates and instructions for pick up will be communicated soon.
- All students will have real-time teacher-directed online learning (synchronous learning) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
- All students will have each Wednesday as a day to work on assigned projects independently (asynchronous), but all teachers will be available.
- Each Wednesday, teachers will be available to parents and students and participate in distance learning geared professional development
As I shared last week, the school board has approved the plans to return to face-to-face learning when it is safe to do so. We will continue to closely monitor the Covid-19 cases in Lewis County on the risk assessment dashboard to look for our target goal of fewer than 25 cases per 100,000. Once we have reached that goal and it is advised by the Lewis County Public Health and Social Services to return to school, we will return in a hybrid model (A/B schedule). At that time, it will be closely monitored to ensure that we stay within the target to remain in a face-to-face model.
We are committed to an equitable learning experience for all students this Fall – and are excited to see our students in the digital classroom!
August 7, 2020
The Chehalis school district has had a clear goal to begin school this Fall with face-to-face instruction because we know this is key to student learning at high levels. Face-to-face instruction is best for social and emotional health and equity for our students. We miss our students, and they miss their friends and teachers. However, we must consider the health and safety of students and staff.
This week the Lewis County Public Health & Social Services’ (LCPHSS) Health Officer, Dr. Wood, strongly recommended that all public and private K-12 schools in Lewis County offer only distance learning to start this coming school year. Following this announcement, Governor Jay Inslee and Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, strongly encouraging that school districts work with their local health officer and follow the recommendations of their local health department. Although we had planned on in-person instruction, we have approached this from a place of flexibility. Things can change at a moment’s notice, as we have already seen this year, and being nimble in our approach to instruction will be vital in assessing and adjusting any plan that we put forth.
I said last week that our new normal is the likelihood of change. The change we face today is that our children will not return to school in the Fall, but instead will be starting in a distance learning model for the safety of our staff, our students, and our community. The decision to recommend a distance learning start to the school year was in response to a study that shed light on Lewis County’s spread of Covid-19 in recent weeks. The spread of COVID-19 has reached 75.5 cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks, vs. under ten cases per 100,000 in May and June. The LCPHSS interprets this data as a direct link between the reopening of our community into phase 3, and the cases tested positive. Data will be updated weekly on the COVID-19 – risk assessment dashboard, and consideration for a return to face-to-face learning will be evaluated monthly. With this new data in mind, our School Board asked for a briefing by our local health department at the board work session on August 4. After this briefing, it was decided that there is no realistic choice other than to delay the beginning of face-to-face instruction.
At the board meeting which followed the work session, directors voted unanimously to approve our reopening plans, which are available to view on our website. This plan will be used when we return to face-to-face learning. These approved plans will be enacted when COVID-19 cases reduce, and the LCPHSS recommends a return to face to face learning. We can look to the numbers dropping below their stated goal of 25 cases per 100,000 as a critical indicator for when that might be a consideration. We are asking that everyone (parents, students, staff, community members) do their part to help reduce the spread of this pandemic.
As we move into this new season of distance learning, I am reminded of last Spring when Covid-19 shocked our community and forced us to close our schools. It was a time of uncertainty and confusion for many. Our teaching staff was challenged with meeting our students’ needs remotely, and it was by nature a reactive season. As we look forward to the Fall, we know more, are better prepared, and more fully equipped to teach our students digitally. Teachers are and will be immersed in intensive training focused on blended and full on-line distance learning. Staff is planning to engage our students in high-quality daily instruction in a remote learning environment. More details will be coming next week. And to ensure we continue to be better in the midst of these changing times, we will be devoting time each Wednesday for continuous staff professional development.
Our commitment to our community is that we will continue to be as agile as we need to be to ensure that all children are safe and healthy – and receive an equitable education. We are all adjusting to change, and although change can be difficult, we can do this together!
July 31, 2020
Our new “normal” in life includes the likelihood of change. In Chehalis School District, we are preparing for a number of possible situations this fall, including both face-to-face learning as well as distance learning.
This week, with the goal of welcoming students and staff back in the classroom to experience instruction in-person this fall, principals and program directors finalized their plans for reopening schools and made presentations to the District Reopening Committee on Thursday, July 30. Members of the school board will consider the approval of these plans at their meeting scheduled for August 4.
With ongoing input from our school community including parents and staff we have adjusted our reopening plan so that all students in kindergarten through grade 12 will follow an A/B schedule in which group A will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays while group B will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. We will keep siblings on the same schedule. A calendar will be made available to help parents in planning for the fall.
In the model currently under consideration, we have designated one day each week this fall as a K-12 Distance Learning Day. In September and October, all students will be learning from home on Wednesdays. Teachers will participate in special training and professional development designed to improve instruction online. In addition, teachers will keep office hours and provide parents and students with support via phone and email.
We are listening carefully to our community, staff, health officials, and district leaders as we consider options and plan for possibilities. With the safety of students and staff as our highest priority, reopening plans have been designed to include cleaning and disinfecting, physical distancing, face coverings, handwashing, and many new protocols for transportation, attendance, lunch serving, and classroom engagement in the learning process.
While some counties and school districts in other parts of the state have declared only one model, we are preparing to serve students in a blended learning model that takes advantage of both face-to-face learning and distance learning.
Some parents may choose a full-time distance learning model for their children. Others will take advantage of open classrooms. All of us must be prepared for school that looks different than it has looked in the past.
Those interested can review, on Monday, August 3, the most current reopening plans being considered by the Board, also dependent on further direction from the Lewis County Department of Health, for each school by visiting the district website at www.chehalisschools.org. Shortly following the school board meeting on August 4 parents can expect to receive an email inquiry from their school asking about their child’s level of participation in classroom instruction and/or their interest in a distance learning program. Details on the distance learning option will be provided. Families will be asked to commit to one model for delivery of instruction for all of the first semester of school, which ends in late January.
July 24, 2020
This has been a busy week for building administrators and staff members as they work hard to develop plans for reopening schools for face-to-face instruction.
Having gathered ideas from the District Reopening Committee, the Chehalis Education Association, and using over 1,700 comments provided in the recent Thoughtexchange, building principals are now working out the details with their teams. With health and safety as their primary goal, staff are considering ways to ensure all students have access to excellent first instruction. They are also determining ways to provide for planning and preparation for teachers and staff members.
At their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 21 the Chehalis SD Board of Directors met via Zoom. With an understanding that these plans are currently under development, directors were provided an update on reopening plans. While the building committees are still drafting plans, two things are certain:
- Students and staff will wear face coverings and observe social distancing in the classroom.
- Students in grades 4 through 12 will not attend school each day, but will follow an A/B schedule of some kind. Families will be kept on the same schedule as much as possible.
Final plans for reopening are to be completed by building teams by July 29 and will then be reviewed by the District Level Reopening Committee. These plans will be shared with school board directors during their work session on August 4, and are to be on file with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by August 18. As soon as plans are approved by the school board they will be communicated to our staff, parents, and community members.
Parents can expect an invitation to their child(ren)’s school in late August. Principals will be hosting events at which time specific details around the reopening plans will be presented. Parents and students will learn about new routines for entering the building, sitting and learning in the classroom, eating lunch, and more.
We are eager to see students back in the classrooms and we appreciate your patience as we plan and prepare to do this in the safest environment we can provide. Thank you for reading these updates, and thank you for your continued support of Chehalis students and staff. I had the opportunity last week to stop by Orin Smith Elementary and share a short overview of our reopening process. You can view the video by clicking here.
If you have had a chance to take a look at the results of the ThoughtExchange I would like to share that there are two ways to look at the data presented in the bar graphs. One is to look at the number of comments in a theme and another is to look at the star rating for that theme. For example, the Equity theme has a lower number of comments but the highest star rating. You also can look at all the data from all respondents or break it up and look at responses only from staff or from parents. Click here for the link to the ThoughtExchange results. Again, thank you for participating. Your voice matters.
July 17, 2020
Hundreds participate in the reopening conversation
For one week, nearly 900 Chehalis parents, staff members, and students joined in the response to one question, “What are the most important things our school district needs to consider as we plan and prepare to reopen schools this fall?”
All of this information has been shared with the District Level Reopening Committee and the Building Teams to help inform our planning. Building Teams with parents, staff, and students are continuing to meet through July. Updates will be provided each week. You can access the Thoughtexchange results HERE. Below I have provided an overview of the themes and content of the Thoughtexchange.
For this exchange, it appears many people are interested in a positive approach to reopening schools – one which honors people during this time of uncertainty. There is also a general concern for the health and safety of everyone involved.
What emerged from the conversation were eight main themes. These eight themes were equity, communication, distance learning, learning and instruction, logistics, social and emotional, health, and schedule.
With an understanding that we may find ourselves returning to distance learning, many participants expressed concern over equitable access to internet services for digital learning. I am pleased to announce that the district, along with outside agencies, has already set in place a plan to address internet access for all our staff and students. As we gather more information we will report back to you on our progress towards providing equity of access to each of our students and staff.
In this exchange, it was made clear that transparency and communication of reopening plans are expected. Parents want to know what “school” will look like well before deciding whether or not they will send their children to school. Please watch for updates from me every Friday in the “Moving Forward Together” newsletter and communications posted on our website.
Challenges from last spring when we engaged in distance learning was another theme with questions around how we can improve to provide meaningful learning and interaction at a distance.
The area of learning and instruction (320 comments) highlighted the concern that the district needs to maintain rigor with an A/B schedule and with distance learning. Participants want to see relevant learning experiences for students.
In the area of logistics, there were more questions than answers, including how we will handle it when someone gets sick, use of substitutes, and managing classrooms in light of all the challenges, to name a few. A large portion of the logistic comments came from staff.
The social and emotional theme was one of the most significant areas of concern. Concerns voiced surround the impact of a school day—the routine and sense of consistency. Participants seem to want kids back in school for social and emotional reasons.
Health and safety had the most comments (679). Most want us to follow best practices and ask, “How are we ensuring and maintain a healthy environment at school?” They want our protocol on distancing, masks, and sanitizing. They ask how we will identify illness before it comes into the building. Many comments in the logistics theme are related.
Under the schedule theme, some people want to pick their schedule; others just want to know what it will be. There were some very diverse perspectives, but many are asking about “the plan.”
We want to take this time to say thank you to all who participated in our Thoughtexchange. Your voice matters as we look to reopen our schools this fall with safe and welcoming environments for all students and staff. Thank you.
July 10, 2020
The District Level Reopening Committee met again this week to hear draft plans for the reopening of schools. These draft plans were built by the District Sub-Committee from information directly brought forward by the District Level Reopening Committee last week. Members of the District Level Reopening Committee provided feedback today on the draft plans. As a result of this work, it is likely that we will look to implement an A/B schedule for grades 4-12 and a regular daily schedule for grades K-3. We will continue to monitor and adjust as needed with further input from the Thought Exchange and building-level parent and staff surveys.
Building and program administrators will meet again this week to determine more details regarding the A/B schedule. Next week, Building Level Teams (including parents, certificated and classified staff, and students) will meet to create implementation plans for their sites. Parents and staff will then have another opportunity to provide feedback to these Building Teams through building level surveys. Building level teams will submit their final plans to the Superintendent on July 29 for a final review by the District Level Reopening Committee. These plans will then be shared with the Board through a work-study session in the beginning of August.
Throughout this process, we will communicate weekly with our school community and relay any updates and/or changes. We are currently planning around the required 6-foot distancing requirement, use of masks, and health screenings under the guidance of the state, OSPI, the Department of Health, and Labor and Industries. If requirements change, we will adjust our plans and communicate these changes to you.
Please know that your voice in this process matters. In addition to the feedback provided by members of the District Reopening Committee, we are relying on input from Chehalis staff, parents, and students. This week, July 6-12, we are conducting a Thought Exchange online. On Monday, July 6, our parents and staff received an email message with a link to the conversation available in multiple languages. Within three days, 642 participants have joined the conversation. Information from this conversation will be shared with all district and building staff, as well as our entire community. Your ideas and thoughts will help us throughout this entire process to make better-informed decisions and plans.
We hope everyone will participate in this important conversation and provide their input during the planning process. You can join the conversation using the following link: What are the most important things our school district needs to consider as we plan and prepare to reopen schools this fall?
As we make our plans to reopen schools this fall, our goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment for Chehalis students and staff and make sure families know their children are cared for and engaged in learning. It is our priority to have students back in classrooms to experience face-to-face instruction beginning September 1. We want to ensure the safety of both students and staff as we plan to reopen the schools.
To view a timeline of the work being done in our district to plan for the reopening of schools, click here.
July 3, 2020
It is our priority to have students back in classrooms to experience face-to-face instruction beginning September 1. We want to ensure the safety of both students and staff as we plan to reopen the schools. To that end, Dr. Christine Moloney has commissioned a District Reopening Committee to discuss options and provide directions as we plan our return to in-person school.
“Our goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment for our students and staff and make sure families know their children are cared for and engaged in learning,” says Superintendent Moloney.
The District Reopening Committee is made up of 20 participants representing school staff, district staff and administrators, parents, and community members. The team met on June 29 and 30 to review guidelines provided by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and public health officials.
Participants are in the beginning stages of plan development and will come back together on July 9 and 10 to continue this important work.
Your voice matters – watch for your email invitation!
To help inform planning committee members, we invite parents, staff, and students to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns in a conversation using an online tool called Thought Exchange. On Monday, July 6, our school community will receive an email message with a link to the conversation available in multiple languages. Participants can access the Thought Exchange using cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices with internet access.
We hope everyone will participate in this important conversation and provide their input during the planning process. If you know of any parent/student without internet access to this invitation, please direct them to the district office to complete an anonymous form, or parents/students may call the district office at (360) 807-7200. The district office will be open to the public Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.