Friday, March 20, 2020
Dear Oak Creek-Franklin Families,
With the announcement from Governor Evers that schools are closed indefinitely, we continue to hope for a return to school but are planning as if we have spent our last day in the classroom for the 2019-2020 school year. This will result in innumerable questions, and we will continue to work through them with your support.
So much change so quickly is jarring. We are all facing new challenges; in about a week, we have spoken to families whose homes have become food insecure, who have lost their jobs, or who are working from home for the first time ever...who feel adrift and uncertain about the future. Our school community wants to support families, not further overwhelm. All that follows, outlines our most earnest attempt to serve.
Thank you for your help, patience, and understanding during Wednesday, Thursday, and today's equipment and extended learning material distribution. Shout-outs on the website, personal messages to various staff members, and positive posts on social media have not gone unnoticed--in fact, that positive outpouring of support has likely kept much of our staff going while we work around the clock and respond to challenges as they surface.
You have no doubt observed that some of the 421 school districts throughout Wisconsin have pre-existing online school options, and others do not. We are in a middle-place, where we use Google Classroom, Dojo, and a variety of other platforms, but always driven by face-to-face instruction. Despite the significant challenges we face, we will evolve in spite of the pandemic. Our transition from a face-to-face learning model, to a virtual model, will not be without challenges. Earlier this week, we learned that we cannot gather together in groups larger than ten--and there will be more hurdles still. Throughout this closure, our staff will be working to provide the best continuity of teaching and learning that we are able, and that will mean virtual learning.
This week we were able to deploy devices for grades 6-12, wireless hotspots, and extended learning materials. We chose 6-12 first because many of those students have devices 24/7 already, and we would be better able to learn from the flow of a more limited distribution, how to maintain social distancing guidelines. If you are a 6-12 family and did not pick up a device and need one, please contact your school directly and they will accommodate you. Distribution has been extremely smooth, so we will move quickly with 4K-5 deployment. We are also concerned about a further tightening of restrictions on where we can move and gather, as we have seen in other parts of the country.
On Monday, March 23, we will deploy devices for all students 4K-5 who need them. If you do not have an electronic device at home for your 4K-5th grade child to utilize, please use your smartphone to request a device, or call your child's school, or call your child's school--that way, we will be ready for you. More details will come directly from your school's principal. If you cannot make it on Monday to pick up a device, please contact your child's school directly at any point between now and when we plan to start virtual learning, and they will work to accommodate you.
At this moment, and throughout Spring Break, members of our team will work to finalize a plan to provide our staff with the professional development they require, between now and our targeted date to begin virtual learning, on April 6 for 6-12 students, and on or before April 14th for 4K-5 students. That means that between Spring Break and the scheduled off-days of April 10th and 13th, we will have moved from a face-to-face model, to a virtual model, in 10-14 work/instructional days or less.
This is our tentative plan to move from a model used in education before this pandemic, to whatever comes after. There will be errors, omissions, and mistakes--and all of this is predicated upon our workforce remaining healthy. There are many grade-level specific questions that will need to be answered. We have had questions about events like prom and graduation, and each will be answered as we move forward--likely through communication from your school's principal.
- March 16 - 20th, Extended learning opportunities 4K-12, IT infrastructure build-out, device assignment 6-12.
- March 23rd, 4K-5 large-scale device assignment.
- March 23 - 27th, Spring Break, continued preparation and planning.
- March 30 - April 3rd, All staff virtual learning training; parent communication and instructions on setting up the communication tool (Seesaw, 4K-5) for virtual learning.
- April 6 - 9th, K4-5 continued virtual learning training; finalize parent communication and instructions on setting up the communication tool (Seesaw 4K-5) for virtual learning.
- April 6, 6-12 virtual learning begins.
- April 14, or before, virtual learning until the conclusion of the year (or return to traditional school), for all students in grades 4K-12.
We are planning for Quarter 4 to be conducted entirely in a virtual-learning format. That means assigned, graded work, designed to continue continuity of essential content--different than "Extended Learning Materials," shared this week, which were designed as enrichment, while we geared up to move into a virtual learning model and families planned for this challenging time.
Every plan we make has been affected by this rapidly developing pandemic; we are providing this communication regarding virtual learning at this juncture to allow for students and families to gain an understanding of what is being built and deployed--but we are certain there will be changes. Thank you for understanding that we are doing the absolute best we can.
Earlier this week, we sent communication to families who might lack access to the internet at home. If you do not have adequate internet access for students to engage with virtual learning, consider using your mobile device to click Spectrum's link to free internet, or complete this Request a Device form and indicate you need to obtain a hotspot for wifi access. Or you can always call us. Our offices continue to be staffed.
Student Chromebook/device support or repair service will be available at the District Office between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM as long as there are school personnel available. Students and families can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding their device.
Daniel Unertl, J.D.
Superintendent, Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District