WGSD preps for school start

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by Marissa Lorenz
The West Grand School District continues to adapt and morph its 2020 fall re-entry plans to be in best accordance with current guidelines and suggested policies. They held two community meetings this week and met at the regular August Board meeting to answer questions and communicate the changes that are occurring on a daily basis and to reassure families and staff that safety and continuity are of primary concern in all decisions.

“West Grand School District continues to work through all the needed precautions and protocols around COVID-19 for the upcoming school year,” assures District Superintendent Dr. Darrin Peppars. “The district has done a great deal of work to open with students
in a face-to-face environment on August 24. But to focus only on safety precautions would be putting aside other incredible work being done by the teachers and leaders of your school district.”

“On Tuesday of this week, West Grand’s teachers spent a full day in high-energy training with one of the top experts in Blended Learning, Weston Kieschnick,” Peppard explains. “Teachers were validated around the work they are doing in addition to adding highly-effective instructional strategies, technology tools to support those strategies, and a support system designed to give them the space, time, and feedback needed to take their already great teaching to a whole new level.”

“For weeks we have said that school will look different this year. We have often referred to that with things like wearing masks, how we move down the hallway, and other things focused on safety. Equally important though is continuing to invest and grow our teachers. They want the absolute best for your students right here in West Grand. Nothing replaces a high quality teacher working face-to-face with highly-engaged students. Whether your child is with us in-person this year or returns to us face-to-face after the pandemic, they will be getting the very best from our amazing teachers…they are working hard to be ready for those West Grand kids!”

Two community meetings hosted in the K8 gym saw good attendance from parents, staff, and administrators. Questions ranged from whether or not students will be able to transition between face-to-face and online learning, depending on what is working, to how much screen time younger online students could be expected

to engage in, to whether or not motivated high school students could graduate early and still participate in postponed athletic seasons.
Conversation continued around expectations of face-coverings, with the general expectation being that all students will be wearing a mask at least some of the time. Peppard and K8 Principal Jack Daly observed that younger classrooms were installing transparent barriers so teachers could instruct in phonics and other topics with a mask off and that there would be various opportunities throughout the day, both in and out of classrooms, for students to engage without face coverings.

Peppard reiterated that the school would provide each student with a reusable mask and that disposable ones would be available in all classrooms. Daly emphasized that deviations from mask and other safety compliance would not be met with punishment.

“We want to try to keep school as normal as possible within the guidelines we need to follow,” he said. “It’s a flexible and changing situation with masks/face shields and other options. If a kid pulls down their mask, they’ll have a reminder to put it back on. They won’t be punished for it. And everything will morph and change to be what is most useful and most effective for students and staff.”
District and school administration is now working on ironing out registration bugs and designing a new back-to-school event. Following some delays due to technical challenges, registration is expected to be active by the end of the week. Back-to-school is likely to look like individual parent-student-teacher meets that could happen in lieu of the first few scheduled days of instruction at
the elementary level, noted Daly.

Continued information and updates will be provided to families both by letter and through ParentSquare. For any questions
or further guidance, contact the district office at 970-724-3217, the high school staff at 970-724-3425, or the K8 staff at 970-724-1000.

For information or registration at the West Grand Early Childhood Center, contact 970-724-0271.

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