April 24 Community Update

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones happy, safe, and healthy. We have just completed Week 5 of our Continuity of Education experience and I am pleased to report that after the much-needed Spring Break respite, our return to remote instruction has been positive and productive. The expectations for teaching and learning continue to adjust and refine with each new experience and our students and teachers are to be commended for their flexibility and perseverance. Although we have not received much new information about the status of the school year beyond the Governor’s May 15 extension of school closures, I do want to share some information and updates with you in response to inquiries we have received.

What are the plans for what to expect when students return to the school buildings for instruction? Our transition back to on-site learning will depend on the guidelines, requirements, and restrictions set by the Governor and Public Health Officials as it pertains to social distancing, small and large group gatherings, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and/or staff, etc. and any additional guidance provided by the Department of Education. While we have more questions than answers at this time, one thing we are certain is that any transition plan for Westwood Regional Schools will focus on the academic, social-emotional, and physical health and well-being of our students. As with the pivot to remote instruction, a return to the school buildings will require patience, cooperation, and flexibility.

Are there any anticipated changes to our remote instruction plan? Inherent in the design of our remote instruction plan is an emphasis on flexibility in response to the uncertainty of the impact that COVID-19 is having on all of our lives. Therefore, the administration has been working closely with our teachers and education specialists to create experiences that allow learning to occur asynchronously so that our students can engage the content on their own time and at their own pace. The amount of time-based structure can be accommodated according to each family’s unique circumstances. We continue to increase our use of live video for whole group, small group, or individual contact where appropriate as well as providing access to recorded video for those who may not be able to attend in real-time. Understanding that this poses opportunities and challenges for everyone in different ways, we always encourage you to reach out to your teachers and principals for support and assistance.

Are there any planned changes to grading? There are no changes planned for the remainder of the school year with the exception of the elimination of Final Exams at the high school. Understanding the monumental shift that is taking place, our teachers will continue to exercise the same level of flexibility in their grading of students that they do in their remote instruction. No one will be penalized because of the impact of the Coronavirus. Our teachers, counselors, and administrators are reaching out to students and families directly when we notice a student may be struggling. 

What’s going on with the Middle School? Construction on the Middle School continues slowly, but surely, including renovation work in the existing building. Crews are lighter than they had been, but those who are on-site are taking appropriate precautions for the safety of everyone. You can see the latest progress in FKA Architect's latest video at https://youtu.be/MgWcYLBAYlQ

Has there been any decision about what’s going to be done with our unused emergency ‘snow days? No changes to the calendar have been made at this time; however, the Board will be discussing options at the April 30, 2020, public Board meeting. Any changes to the end of the school year would be announced only after the Board has taken formal action.

Will the Board of Education Meeting be online again? Yes. In light of the Public Health Emergency, the Board will be holding its regular public meeting and budget hearing entirely online on April 30, 2020, at 6:30 PM. Please check the district website on the day of the meeting for information on how to view and/or provide public comment during the meeting.