In-person return to school with an on-line (virtual) option
Dear Waunakee School Board Members,
As you can imagine, community members have been busy discussing the beginning of the 2020 -2021 school year. As a result of these discussions, we would like to present you with the following thoughts:
Previous parent surveys and ‘Town Hall’ style call-in meetings sponsored by WCSD, overwhelmingly support in-person education for their children, starting this fall.
At the July 13th, 2020 WCSD BOE meeting, both the Staff and Student Dane County Public Health (DCPH) suggested Covid guidelines were unanimously approved by the BOE. These guidelines are achievable for WCSD to safely open school, in-person, September 1, 2020.
Waunakee has been one of the highest rated school systems in the state. As such, we believe we should take a leadership role in the handling of our current situation. The WCSD Board of Education has an opportunity to use what we have to come up with a solution to the current circumstances instead of allowing them to be a roadblock.
We urge you to open our schools for in-person education starting Sept. 1, 2020 with a full staff and full curriculum. We propose live streaming all classes so that those in our community who are not comfortable sending their children to school will have an on-line option. The existing infrastructure in each classroom (smart boards), should make this process easily attainable.
With less than six weeks left before the WCSD is set to open and still no firm direction about our children’s education, this option would allow parents, faculty, and children to begin scheduling their fall.
Live streaming of classes offers the following possibilities:
1. Parents have the option of choosing a situation that works best for them and their families. If numbers don’t work out with the ever changing Covid criteria, the option allows for flexibility. Ie some students may have to utilize the on-line version from time to time but they will still have a scheduled class, at a specific time with a specific teacher and still get to experience the classroom atmosphere.
2. Having a daily schedule allows for children, staff and working parents to plan.
3. There is built in accountability for showing up, whether on-line or in person, at a designated place and time. Many of us see this as an integral part of our children’s education.
4. This option allows for children to get back into some sort of routine and socialization, which we are repeatedly hearing the importance of from numerous sources, as well as seeing what the lack of it is doing to our own kids.
5. It allows teachers to teach their classes in a traditional fashion and not have to prepare separate lessons for on-line school.
6. This system will allow for a much easier transition for all when we are ready to go back to pre-Covid ways.
7. We will be using the space and assets taxpayers are already paying for, showing the need and benefits of continuing to have school buildings, the number of faculty we have, and all the related expenses. We have a system that works well, we can merely modify it for the current set of circumstances. We wouldn’t have to use additional taxpayer dollars to create a temporary system that is not used in the future.
8. WCSD will be modeling to our children how we can use what we have to create solutions without reinventing the wheel.
9. The structure will already be in place for flexibility with ever changing Covid spacing and numbers restrictions, for unplanned absences, etc.
10. Children who benefit most from having a place to go to receive an education will have that option available to them.
11. We believe there are more benefits to this option than we can list. Each household has circumstances as unique as it’s children, however, this option provides a good alternative for all, especially those in the intermediate through high school grades.
In conclusion, best case scenario for our school district would be to return to in -person school with the BOE and DCHS approved Covid regulations intact, PPE/Social distancing/cleaning procedures, etc. As an alternative, we are proposing an option that would allow the choice between in-person or on-line classes without doubling up on any of the work involved in doing so. This option allows for the most flexibility for the ever changing Covid rules. A live-stream of each class, which the at-home child can watch and participate in. The existing infrastructure in each classroom makes the process easily attainable. The teachers will not have to create a separate online curriculum or use additional materials. In Addition, the at-home student will feel supported and socially part of the class.
We feel strongly that this is an opportunity for the WCSD to take a leadership role in the handling of Covid-19 in the education system that is in the best interests of our students, teachers, staff, taxpayers, and community at large.
Interested members of the Waunakee Community