Editor's note: In a letter to parents and guardians on Thursday, Nov. 19, Wadena-Deer Creek Superintendent Lee Westrum detailed an extension of distance learning for 7-12 grade students and the start of distance learning for elementary students on Fridays, beginning Dec. 4. Full distance learning for all students includes Jan. 4-15. Monday, Jan. 18 is a scheduled staff development day.
In the letter, Westrum states:
I write today to inform you that the WDC school board will be given a recommendation to change the learning model for grades PK-6 beginning the week after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30-Dec. 4.
The plan is for PK-6 students to be in-person Monday through Thursday with Friday being a distance-learning day. In addition, there will be a distance-learning period for students in grades PK-6 after the holidays from Jan. 4-15. At this time, distance learning is being extended for grades 7-12 through Jan. 15.
We hope to have PK-6 students back Monday through Thursday starting Tuesday, Jan. 19 and we hope to resume our hybrid schedule for grades 7-12 on Tuesday, Jan. 19 as well. This, of course, is dependent on the COVID situation at that time.
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The two-week distance learning period after the holidays is to provide a buffer from what is anticipated to be a period of high COVID exposure. Overall, these changes are due to the high rate of COVID spread in our community and to meet the demands of providing in-person and distance learning to our PK-6 students at the same time. Quite simply, our PK-6 staff needs additional time to prepare and to meet the needs of all of our learners.
Fridays will be a day for teachers to work closely with full-time distance learning students and to connect with their in-person students as well. Fridays will still be a school day for students and they will be expected to participate and complete schoolwork. This will also give students, teachers and parents a “practice run,” if you will, at distance learning prior to the two-week distance learning period of Jan. 4-15.
Childcare will be available for Tier I essential workers on Fridays and Jan. 4-8 at the elementary school. We are requiring that you sign-up in advance for childcare. We ask that you email Jennifer Ness at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name and grade of your child, what dates you need childcare, what time you will be dropping them off/picking them up and your employment status as a Tier I essential worker. Childcare will be free during school hours, but before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m. there will be an hourly charge.
I understand that a schedule change such as this is difficult for parents. However, we feel it is the prudent path given the current situation. Thank you for your understanding and support.