Page last updated: 6/26/2020
Families, this is the first in a series of communications. Today’s update is an overview, and we know you will have more questions. We are preparing communications to answer each of these questions in more detail throughout the rest of the summer.
Welcome to our Return to School communications page. Westlake Charter School will use this page to continually update our communications in response to the latest information pertaining to school reopening in the fall. At a minimum, we plan to update this page on July 12th, 19th, 26th, August 2nd, and 9th, leading up to the opening of school on August 12, 2020. This is the first in a series of communications.
Today’s update, for the week of June 28th includes a brief overview of many of the decisions that came out of several planning meetings, including teacher leadership meetings, administrative team meetings, our Virtual Parent Town Hall Meeting and our June WCS Board Meeting.
The graphic below will introduce our community to some of the practices we have developed to follow health and safety guidelines for reopening school. Next, below our graphic overview, you will see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. We have organized our response to questions from our community based on our five areas of planning: 1) Health & Safety, 2) Academic & Social-Emotional Instruction, 3) Tiered Support, 4) Logistics & Operations, and 5) Communication & Collaboration with our Community. These FAQs will be updated regularly as information evolves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The following questions were curated from parent surveys and during the Parent Town Hall Meeting. We will continue to update this section of the website as more questions arise and more information becomes available. If you have any questions that you would like included, please email them to email@example.com.
We will not be using the cafeteria for lunch. We have to keep our students in their cohorts, utilize the classroom or safe, socially-distanced outdoor spaces for students to eat.
2. Is there really a big outcry for health and safety issues?
Yes. Health and safety is our primary focus. This includes not only the physical, social emotional, and mental health of our students, but of our staff and families as well. We believe that when we focus on health and safety, we will arrive at the right answer more often. Westlake Charter School takes this charge incredibly seriously. It is almost impossible to imagine the trauma that would occur if one of our community members suffered a grave illness due to a lack of commitment on the part of our school. We are committed to think of each stakeholder, each community member, and each individual as we draft our policies, practices and procedures in collaboration with local health officials.
Yes. We are working with our specialties teachers to embed PE, Art and Spanish as a part of our school week as well as utilizing time during Distance Learning to help students develop in these areas. Recess will be structured to assist with social distancing, but we believe that recess must be a part of every school day!
2. Will the teacher be more available during online class? If that will be the route we choose?
Whether Distance Learning is full time or used as a part time solution to allow students to take turns coming into the classroom, it will include daily live interaction with staff and peers. Our Distance Learning is being reimagined and redesigned so that students have more access and a wider variety of learning mediums.
3. So will the teachers be teaching the kids during distance learning at the same time they are teaching the class or just providing busy work?
Great question. In class and Distance Learning activities are being developed so that all students, whether they are Distance Learning or in the classroom are moving together at the same pace. Students engaged in Distance Learning will have daily attendance, daily live connections with staff and peers, and daily expectations that are equal to the students who are in class on that day.
4. How are we going to make specialties possible?
The specialties team is working on a multitude of solutions that range from in-class, online and embedded into school activities learning opportunities. The team is working hard to ensure that our students continue to have access to high quality Art, Spanish and PE curriculum and instruction.
This is an excellent question and one that our team discussed. Our primary objective in building classes for the fall was the Social and Emotional health of our students. Teachers helped to build class rosters by identifying friends for each student. Next the rosters needed to be split into two cohorts to allow for alternating schedules, while making efforts to preserve these crucial friendships. Finally, we had to build these rosters for over 1,000 students and ensure that siblings each landed in the same cohort, while also being aware of secondary factors such as keeping advisory classes in the middle school feasible and ensuring students had access to critical staff for tiered interventions. We are proud of the work we did throughout this highly complex process, however we recognize that it would have been improved had parents had an opportunity to choose their schedule.
2. Will teachers get more permanent aids to help with the constant supervision of kids within their classroom?
Schedules are built to ensure that supervision is not only a part of the classroom, but recess, transition times, etc. During the worst budget crisis in recent history, we may actually need more staff than in previous years.
Great question. We have just received the instructional minutes regulations prepared for the Governor as a part of the budgeting process at the state level and will be working to release a draft of staggered start times in our July 12 communication. Our current best thinking is that we will have staggered start times, but a singular uniform dismissal time for 1st-8th, allowing kinder their own dismissal time. We are developing protocols to assist with siblings who arrive together.
2. What will middle school look like with cohorts and multiple teachers?
We have worked through the health and safety guidelines to ensure that social distancing protocols are in place. Our teams are now determining the viability of cleaning classrooms appropriately during the day to allow students to rotate between rooms, versus having students stay in a single room but allowing for the teachers to rotate.
3. When will my children receive their school schedules?
While we typically do not issue school schedules and teacher assignments until the beginning of the school year, we are working on releasing our schedules in July to help families plan for the fall.
4. If school is going back as a reduced schedule, will you be cutting costs by eliminating staff that isn’t needed/used? PE, art, etc?
Westlake Charter School has made no layoffs nor reductions in staff due to budgetary restrictions. All our Art, Spanish and PE teachers will be on campus serving our students in the fall.
5. If you need to coordinate schedules with siblings at another school, how will that work?
As was described above, we spent a lot of effort ensuring that we aligned our schedules with our siblings on campus. Next, we are in collaboration with the leaders of NUSD, Np3 and NCS to attempt to align our practices and schedules to the best of our ability. To be honest, the logistics of thousands of students attending nearly 20 campuses across Natomas, each on a modified schedule of some kind will undoubtedly lead to some inconvenience, however, with that said, we are working hard to reduce the discomfort every way we can.
6. Can WCS families coordinate schedules in order to help one another out or for childcare purposes?
Yes! WCS and our WAVE Parent Team have been discussing the potential launch of a Child Care Cooperative, where parents who have students in the same cohort can help one another out during Distance Learning days. We hope to release this information on July 12.
7. If we need our kid in BASE and can’t afford it, will there be financial support?
This is at the center of our conversations. 1) How can we quickly get to increased capacity so that every student can be on campus every day, 2) How can we collaborate with our parent community to help one another with childcare so that there are “no-cost” solutions childcare, 3) How can we ensure BASE is safe and affordable to the families that need this service during the day, while ensuring that each staff member is able to be paid for providing this essential service? While we do not have all the answers yet, we promise, we are working in the background on this exact issue every single day. If we can solve this issue, it will increase our ability for everyone to feel safe returning to school in smaller cohorts.
Westlake Charter School will use this page to continually update our communications in response to the latest information pertaining to school reopening in the fall. At a minimum, we plan to update this page on July 12th, 19th, 26th, August 2nd, and 9th., leading up to the opening of school on August 12, 2020.
2. What steps will WCS take to address implicit bias to uphold an anti-racist school culture?
Thank you for this question. From the boardroom to the classroom, our team is committed to the reflection and hard work necessary to move forward on this issue as indicated in this letter that was sent to our community in the June 14th Westlake Weekly Newsletter.
If you have any questions, please continue to visit this FAQ page or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to answer as quickly as possible.