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Update: West Fargo set to review school reopening plans on August 10th

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 10:18 AM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Update (6:38 p.m.) - After our original post, West Fargo Public Schools issued a clarification to its initial post. Below is the district’s response:

Due to the high volume of inquiries after our latest reentry update, we felt a follow-up communication was necessary. We hope this communication provides clarity around what was shared last evening, what is known and what is not yet known, and when you can expect more information.

  • The surveys that we distributed to families and staff earlier this month were only a way to gauge comfortability with returning to school this fall; they were never intended as a commitment by the respondents or the district to a specific course of action, as how we return this fall is guided by the state. Even though the survey results could not be used to select our reentry model, the high percentage of respondents that indicated comfort with a return to in-person instruction did factor into our belief that a hybrid model would be a more well-received plan for WFPS than a fully distance model to start the year. 
  • The guidance that all ND districts must follow states that our reopening must be directly aligned to the color-coded risk level as determined by the state. Each risk level has specific considerations and criteria to help districts decide their reopening model. Currently, the state of ND is green. The green level includes the considerations of physical distancing and limitations on gathering size. Some districts in the state are small enough that a full reopening may be possible right away in August. However, when you compare the size of our classes with the amount of square footage in our classrooms, WFPS is unable to meet physical distancing if all students were back onsite all day, every day. Therefore, we must open in a hybrid model to meet the criteria listed for our current risk level.
  • While we have a high level of certainty around the fact that we will need to open in a hybrid model, we do not yet know what the details of that hybrid model are. Those details will be included in the comprehensive plan that we release to all staff and families on Friday, July 31. At this time, our use of the term “hybrid model” only means that we are preparing to provide both in-person and distance learning opportunities for our students. We do not yet have the specifics around whether there may be groups of students that can elect to be fully in-person or fully distance, or what a staggered schedule could potentially look like to help us meet those distancing and gathering considerations. Those, and many other details, will be ironed out by committees over the next several days. 
  • We understand that our staff and families need our plans to determine what their employment and childcare needs are for the fall. The plan we are committed to sharing on July 31 will include the details that our staff and families need to make any arrangements necessary with employers and childcare providers.  

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(Original) West Fargo Public Schools says because the state of North Dakota is at low risk for exposure or transmission of COVID-19, they will allow for the possibility of a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning to start the school year.

The school district says there is a lot to do in a short amount of time. The school district also says they are targeting their August 10th meeting to officially review reopening plans. There will be several other meetings happening before that August 10th date and those are as follows:

  • The district reentry committee, which includes department leaders, school administrators, representatives from the WFEA, and representatives from the School Board, met for the first time on July 16 and are scheduled to meet again on July 23 and 30.
  • Nearly 20 subcommittees have been created to start gathering input from staff and families regarding specific areas of the operation like curriculum and instruction, mental health, nursing, human resources, school safety, student activities, tech integration, special education, 504 plans, English Learners, CTE, transportation, food service, maintenance, custodial services, IT, finances, and public relations.
  • On Tuesday, July 28, I am hosting two virtual sessions for parents. Elementary parents are invited from 4-5 PM, and secondary parents from 5:30-6:30 PM. These sessions will be an opportunity for parents to receive an overview of the district’s reentry plan and provide structured feedback to me on whether we are on the right course. Virtual feedback sessions with staff are still being finalized.
  • We remain committed to sharing the draft reentry plan with all stakeholders on Friday, July 31, which provides time for staff and families to dig into the plan and ask questions to ensure they understand what will be offered this fall in West Fargo Public Schools.

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