Return to School Portal
August 10, 2020
Dr. Stiles Simmons
Hello Westwood Families,
As you know, school districts across Michigan and the nation have been charged with developing school reopening plans during these unprecedented and uncertain times. We know that you are eager to learn about the Westwood Community School District plans for the new school year. We appreciate your patience and your support. The Westwood Community Schools Taskforce has made tremendous progress over the past five weeks, despite the many changes, to develop a plan that considers the health and safety of students and staff as well as the academic and social-emotional needs of students.
The overall goal of the Westwood Community Schools Taskforce is and has been the development of health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, while allowing for quality teaching and learning, the social-emotional well-being of students and staff, and providing safe and viable options for parents. Before Governor Whitmer announced the MI Safe Schools: Return to School Roadmap, the taskforce strongly considered a hybrid learning model that would organize students into two cohorts—Cohort A and Cohort B. Students would attend school for “in-person” instruction for two days per week and would engage in distance/at-home learning three days per week.
After Governor Whitmer’s announcement on June 30th, we began working on plans for a Full Reopening whereby students would attend school five days per week, since social distancing in the classroom was not required per the governor’s guidelines. As time progressed and the number of COVID-19 cases began to spike, we felt that it would be best to develop a plan that incorporated social distancing in classrooms. The taskforce went back to the original hybrid learning model to limit the number of students attending school for “in-person” instruction on any given day. However, this time we added a distance/at-home option (Westwood Distance Learning Program) for parents who choose to have their children learn at home. Additionally, the taskforce considered the information from the staff and parent surveys before making a final decision.
Finally, the plan developed by the taskforce and put forth to the Board of Education for consideration not only meets the overall goal established by the taskforce, but also reflects the preferences of parents and staff members. We understand that given these extraordinary circumstances that no single plan will completely satisfy the wishes and needs of every person. However, we believe our plan includes stringent health and safety protocols, offers choices to families, and affords students with high-quality learning opportunities that they need and deserve. Please continue reading below to learn more about the key components of our plan.
Key Components of the Westwood Return to School Plan for Phase 4:
1. Under the hybrid model, students will attend school for “in-person” instruction two days per week and will participate in distance learning three days per week. Students will be grouped into two cohorts—Cohort A and Cohort B. Cohort A will attend school on Monday and Tuesday, while Cohort B will be engaged in distance learning, and Cohort B would attend school on Thursday and Friday, while Cohort A is engaged in distance learning. Each cohort of students will participate in distance learning on Wednesdays. All students (K-12) who participate in the hybrid learning model will receive a new Google Chromebook. Kindergarten students will receive iPads. It is expected that students will carry the devices between home and school each scheduled day.
2. The Westwood Distance Learning program will be offered for those students (K-12) whose parents prefer that they learn at home. The school district has purchased 1350 Google Chromebooks for students in grades 1-12. Also, it is expected that students participating in the Westwood Distance Learning Program (K-12) will use their assigned device to complete assignments, take tests, attend class online, and communicate with their classmates and teachers. All students enrolled in the distance learning program will be taught by certified teachers.
3. Under the hybrid model, the school district will implement all the required and strongly recommended health and safety guidelines as outlined in Governor Whitmer’s Return to School Roadmap. Face coverings will be worn by staff and students, except for those who cannot medically tolerate face coverings. Additionally, the hybrid model allows the school district to provide social distancing in classrooms and common areas throughout each school building. Please see the Westwood COVID-19 Preparedness Plan which can be found on the district website by August 17, 2020, for more details.
4. The school district is working closely with our custodial & maintenance team to finalize plans for enhanced cleaning protocols. In fact, we have agreed to hire additional cleaning staff and purchase more equipment to ensure that all school buildings are properly cleaned and disinfected before, during, and after school hours.
4. Tomlinson Middle School and Robichaud High School have developed block schedules—5 blocks at TMS & 4 blocks at RHS. The block schedules would significantly reduce the number of transitions between classes which would help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Also, the block schedules will allow for more time for teaching and learning in the core academic subject areas.
5. Learning supports for students with IEPs and 504 plans will continue for all students. The Special Education and Section 504 staff will work collaboratively with students and families to identify programs and services based on individual student needs. Instructional delivery will be designed to ensure the least restrictive environment (LRE) as required by the individualized education program (IEP). Special Education evaluations and Section 504 reviews will be conducted virtually and “in-person”, when possible, while adhering to public health guidelines for the safety of students and staff.
6. Per the MI Safe Start: Return to School Roadmap, all staff and students are required to wear face coverings while on district-provided transportation (e.g. busses). All school busses will be properly cleaned with EPA-approved disinfectants and hand sanitizer will be available for all riders. We will also encourage social distancing to the extent practicable.
As the start of the new school year approaches, we will continue to work on the details of our plan and we will communicate those details with you through Email, Facebook, Class Dojo, Robocall, and the Westwood Community Schools website. We know that these are challenging times for us all and that creating a plan that satisfies everyone is nearly impossible, but we sincerely hope that the our plan best meets the needs of our students, parents, staff, and community.
Dr. Stiles Simmons