Messages to the Community

State Restrictions and Impacts

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington Department of Health has released guidance for reopening schools (Read the OSPI Reopening Washington Schools 2020: District Planning Guide). The guidance includes two safety mandates that impact classroom learning:

Social distancing will be required. There must be six (6) feet of distance surrounding each student sitting in a classroom. Facilities staff have been working to measure and configure classrooms and have determined the number of students that can fit in each classroom with social distancing. This factor is the main limitation to the number of students that the district can accommodate for in-person learning on a campus at one time.

Masks will be required. Watch OSPI State Superintendent Chris Reykdal's video below where he addresses these requirements and other questions his office has received.


Recommendation for Distance Learning

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dear Parents, Caretakers, and Community Members:

While your Woodland Public Schools teachers and staff were hopeful we would be able to begin the 2020-2021 school year with in-person learning, the progression of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus along with increased infections within our community have made this no longer a safe option.

This past Friday, Dr. Steven Krager, M.D., Medical Director of Cowlitz County’s Department of Health, recommended “school districts in the county start the school year with distance learning and continually re-evaluate conditions. Our concern is that with high community transmission, the risk of outbreaks in schools is elevated, which could lead to schools closing again quickly.”

In addition, the Institute of Disease Modeling released a report on July 13, 2020 outlining how in-person instruction, even with safeguards in place, risks significantly worsening COVID-19 transmission rates in the community.

At the advice and counsel of Dr. Krager and the Cowlitz County Department of Health, I am recommending to the Board of Directors that Woodland Public Schools begin the new year with full-time distance learning.

We have hope of a gradual return to face-to-face instruction as the year progresses. As our community increases the use of face masks; consistently observes physical distancing

guidelines; and avoid large social gatherings, the data are showing an improvement in reducing the rate of newly diagnosed infections in our region. Your schools are working closely with regional health officials and other professionals to identify metric targets that will allow us to implement a phased return of students to school for face-to-face support

In the coming weeks, we will continue our planning to ensure that we can successfully offer high-quality distance education for students, while concurrently developing plans for a phased return to school for students. I want to assure you that we are committed to supporting the educational needs of students and their families with high-quality distance education. While we know it is impossible to fully replace the quality of education received in-person, we will strive to replicate the classroom experience as closely as possible using distance learning methods to provide the very best support possible for our students.

I encourage you to visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date information on the status of Woodland Public Schools during this global pandemic at www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq.

For ALL the Kids,

Michael Green
Superintendent


Cowlitz Schools Coordinating in Developing Reopening Plans

Thursday, July 30, 2020

School leaders in Cowlitz County anticipate release of 2020-21 school year plans the week of August 10School leaders in Cowlitz County anticipate release of 2020-21 school year plans the week of August 10

Cowlitz County school districts including Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, Toutle Lake and Woodland School Districts consider multiple options in their return to school planning.

After seeking input from families and staff, and in close consultation with the Cowlitz County Health Department, Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, Toutle Lake, and Woodland School Districts, plus Wahkiakum School District in Wahkiakum County, are coordinating with one another and considering one of the following back-to-school options:

  • Full in-person return: Students will return to campus in the fall with physical distancing and masks.
  • Some in-person and some remote/distance learning: Under this hybrid model students would spend half their time in school and the other half engaged in remote/distance learning.
  • Remote/distance learning: Under this model, the school year will begin with students engaged in an all-remote/distance learning model. This remote learning option would be an enhanced and more accountable version than the approach used in the spring of 2020.
  • A combination of these options.

Superintendents in Cowlitz County anticipate sharing back-to-school 2020 plans the week of August 10. According to state guidance, school boards must approve district reopening plans two weeks prior to the official start of the school year and before any plan can be implemented.

While school boards will ultimately decide on school reopening plans, public health officials stress that getting the virus under control to support a return to in-person education is a community responsibility.

“Our community holds the key to getting kids back in the classroom,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Cowlitz County’s health officer. “By wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing and washing our hands frequently, we can help get kids back in the classroom sooner.”


Reopening Update: Next Steps and Existing Remote-Learning Solutions

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Woodland Public Schools' remote learning offerings: Lewis River Academy for Grades K-8 and TEAM High School for Grades 9-12

Woodland Public Schools' remote learning offerings: Lewis River Academy for Grades K-8 and TEAM High School for Grades 9-12

Dear Parents, Caretakers, Students, and Staff:

As you have likely heard, OSPI provided guidelines to all Washington State schools for a variety of reopening options this coming fall. 

Woodland Public Schools continues to closely monitor the state's health and safety guidance to assess the ability of our schools to meet the requirements and recommendations for the different possible reopening options. We understand the amount of anxiety our families feel right now as we, too, are feeling the same anxiety with our own families. 

While the situation continues to change, scientific data suggests the virus poses little risk to children. However, this same data also shows the virus load in children is the same as adults meaning that while the risk to our students could be low, the risk to their parents and our staff members could be high. Accordingly, our priority to open schools in September will be the safety of our students and our staff by providing the safest learning and working environment for everyone.

New information about the novel coronavirus Covid-19 and its impacts on our region, state, and nation continue to affect the way people think and feel about a return to in-person learning in the fall. As the 2020-21 school year approaches, we will continue to provide updates via both our Skyward Family Access email system as well as on our website at www.woodlandschools.org

Woodland Public Schools offers full-time, remote-learning alternatives for students in grades K-12

While we work diligently on planning for the different potential outcomes of the return to school this fall, we also want to take the opportunity to re-introduce our two existing, award-winning alternative- and remote-learning programs available for free for all Woodland students: Lewis River Academy (LRA) for students in grades K-8 and TEAM High School for students in grade 9-12.

Both programs have served students throughout Woodland Public Schools for many years and provide authentic, rigorous, and enhanced alternatives to in-school instruction for students in any grade. In fact, the district has put plans in place to provide staffing and support as necessary should the two programs see increased enrollment this fall. 

Does your family live in a surrounding school district and not Woodland? Not a problem. Any interested student can enroll in LRA or TEAM by applying for a Choice Transfer boundary exception. More information is available on the district’s website here: https://www.woodlandschools.org/choice-transfer 

Lewis River Academy (K-8)

Lewis River Academy (LRA) offers families of K-8 students innovative at-home curriculum with dedicated teacher support alongside optional in-classroom activities. In addition to teacher support, families and students use online platforms like Edgenuity (www.edgenuity.com), FuelEducation (www.fueleducation.com) and Odysseyware www.odysseyware.com) to work on their studies.

LRA requires the same amount of rigor as traditional schooling with students dedicating, approximately one hour per subject per day, just like any other student. The program also allows enrolled students to take electives like art and band as well as participate in extracurricular programs like clubs, drama, and athletics at Woodland’s other schools while continuing their core classes at LRA.

TEAM High School (9-12)

TEAM offers Woodland’s high school students a path to earning a diploma (not a GED) with an approach to school that accommodates extenuating life circumstances facing individual students such as full-time work, challenges with traditional school schedules, or family responsibilities. The dedication of students and staff at TEAM has paid off with the school’s graduation rate doubling In the past few years.

Students create a learning plan with TEAM’s teachers and work at their own pace within the scope of remote program minimums.  TEAM students check in with the school’s staff via video teleconferences, phone, email, or even by text message on a weekly basis. Students are assessed based on multiple-choice quizzes taken online at home and through tests and exams taken at the TEAM building by appointment while adhering to proper hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

To enroll at TEAM as a remote learning solution, students will need access to a computer or other form of technology connected to the Internet at their homes. If your family needs support obtaining Internet access, please reach out to the Family Community Resource Center for assistance (www.woodlandschools.org/fcrc). 

While learning is self-directed at TEAM, the school’s teachers can provide instruction and support in all subject areas whenever a student needs additional help or would benefit from more detailed lessons. If a student struggles to make progress at any point, the school’s teachers help students adjust learning plans, if necessary, to ensure academic success leading to graduation.

Jillian Domingo teaches English, social studies, and all humanities and business courses for TEAM. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and holds a master’s degree in education from University of California Irvine, a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and teaching certificates in English, language arts, social studies, and history. Jillian is also working on acquiring her teaching certification in computer science and art.

Elizabeth “Liz” Vallaire teaches math and science for TEAM. She is currently working on her master’s degree in special education at Washington State University and holds a bachelor’s degree with a double-major in biology and zoology along with minors in writing and anthropology from Humboldt State University. She holds teaching certificates in biology, general science, health/fitness, art, and math. Liz was also the Washington Association for Learning Alternatives Teacher of the Year in 2019.

Just like K-8 students enrolled at Lewis River Academy, students enrolled at TEAM High School can take electives like art and band as well as participate in extracurricular activities including clubs, drama, and athletics at Woodland High School while earning their high school diploma at TEAM.

Learn more online or at our Virtual Open Houses

To learn more about LRA and TEAM, you can visit www.woodlandschools.org/lra and www.woodlandschools.org/team, respectively. Additionally, we are pleased to announce an upcoming virtual open house where our staff will introduce and describe their programs as well as provide the opportunity to answer any questions you may have.

Virtual Open House

When? Tuesday, August 4, 2020 starting at 6 p.m.
How? Join us using your PC, Mac, iPhone or Android smartphone with the following Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/98896517597 

In addition to asking questions during the open house via chat, you can also send any questions you may have in advance to Jake Hall, Executive Director Learning Alternatives and Supports, at hallj@woodlandschools.org.


Woodland Public Schools' plan to return to in-school learning this fall (Superintendent Letter)

Originally sent on Monday, June 22, 2020

Dear Parents, Caregivers, Students, Staff, and Community Members:

Earlier in June, we invited all of our caretakers, students, and staff to take part in a ThoughtExchange, an innovative group-generated feedback system, to help plan our return to school this fall. 

The community’s participation and feedback was outstanding with nearly 900 individuals participating in the district’s ThoughtExchange generating 1,175 thoughts and 26,700 ratings. If you would like to review the results of the inquiry, please visit the following link: https://bit.ly/WPS-ThoughtExchange-June2020

The most highly-ranked thoughts fall into four specific priorities: protecting the health and safety of our students; a return to normalcy with in-school learning; equity in remote learning; and educational opportunities for all students.

I wanted to take this time to review each of the priorities as well as provide you with our current plans on how we intend to address them:

Priority - Protecting Health and Safety

Unsurprisingly, all participants - families, students, and staff - identified health and safety — reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19 as the highest priority. The health and safety of our students, our employees, and our community is our top priority.

We have clear guidance from state and federal agencies (Dept of Health, Centers for Disease Control, OPSI, L&I) that we must follow in order to protect the health of our community. We are implementing strict cleaning and sanitation standards that follow these guidelines to ensure our facilities are clean and sanitized.
Students, staff, and visitors to Woodland’s schools must be screened on a daily basis for fever and other health indicators. Staff and students showing any fever or potential symptoms of the virus including coughing, sneezing, etc. must stay home.

Priority - A Return to Normalcy and In-School Learning

A common theme of comments and feedback from participants spoke to the challenges of learning from home. Students expressed concerns over not receiving enough guided feedback from teachers. Parents and caretakers talked about feeling overwhelmed by the combination of having to work from home and ensure their children kept up with their studies. In addition, staff, students, and caretakers alike spoke to the importance of the social aspects of school from visiting with friends and classmates to enjoying the company of teachers and colleagues.

OSPI recently released guidelines for the return to in-school learning for this fall. While this news likely provides relief to many families, we must stress that in-school learning will not look the way we remember it.

The State Health Department, the Department of Labor and Industries, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public instruction have issued strict guidelines for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. These guidelines include strict social distancing and PPE requirements. For instance, masks and social distancing will be required for all students and staff. Many participants in our ThoughtExchange expressed displeasure with the idea of wearing masks, however, locally we must comply with this statewide directive. School will not look quite like how it has in the past.

While it is the goal of Woodland Public Schools to return to robust face-to-face instruction for all students, it may be necessary for the new school model to be a hybrid of in-school learning and home learning, 

School districts must follow the guidelines provided by the state. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding the guidelines, you may wish to direct your feedback to your local state legislator or OSPI. 

We will continue to keep you informed throughout the summer as we learn more about in-school learning as well as extracurricular activities including athletics and clubs.

Priority - Equity in Remote Learning

Woodland Public Schools must be ready to pivot to a remote learning model in the event of a local outbreak of COVID-19. Given the expansive and diverse geographic area the district serves, many families expressed concerns regarding future remote learning due to the lack of high-quality Internet and/or access to appropriate technology such as laptops or other computers.

During the statewide closure, the district ramped up its procurement of Chromebooks for students without access. In the fall, each student in grades 5-12 will be issued a Chromebook.  We are also exploring different opportunities for internet access for students who do not currently have adequate internet access. Should we need to reenter a remote learning environment during the next school year, we aim to ensure families who need Chromebooks and other learning tools will have them.

Priority - Educational Opportunities for All Students

Another concern many of our parents and students expressed in the ThoughtExchange related to how, even with all of the efforts to protect student and staff safety, there is still a risk. We want to be sure we provide the opportunity for a rich educational experience for all children within our community, whether they plan to return to the classroom for face-to-face instruction or prefer the opportunity to learn in a home-based model. 

We offer rich opportunities for students who do not plan to return to face-to-face instruction through the Lewis River Academy Program and the TEAM Alternative High School. You can learn more about these programs by clicking here.

Change is the only constant

The COVID-19 pandemic is very fluid. Information and guidance is changing as scientists and public health experts learn more about this novel coronavirus. 

We are hard at work planning what school opportunities will look like come September, and anticipate that we will be publishing our draft plan near the beginning of August. We will update you as these plans are developed in the coming weeks. I also encourage you to regularly visit our website for the latest updates.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other, stay healthy, and enjoy the beautiful summer weather however you can.

Sincerely,

Michael Green, Superintendent of Schools


OSPI releases School Reopening Guidelines
(Superintendent Letter)

Originally sent on Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear Woodland Families,

First, thank you for the partnership you have had with the teachers of your children during this very difficult time. Navigating the many challenges of distance learning has been difficult for parents, students, and teachers alike.

OSPI releases reopening guidance

On Thursday, June 11, the Washington State Education Department (OSPI) released the much-anticipated guidance for return to school in the fall. These required guidelines were developed by OSPI in close collaboration with the state Department of Health and Governor Inslee’s office.

General principles in the guidance include that school will resume in the fall with in-person instruction and with modifications and measures to protect the health of students and staff. This is welcome news for many. The state is also advising that we be prepared to shift to robust remote learning opportunities for all students if there is a local outbreak of COVID-19.

Feedback Opportunities

In the coming weeks and months, we will plan to provide opportunities and options that will best serve the education and health of all students. There are many details to wade through between now and the start of the 20-21 school year. The input gathered in the recent “Thought Exchange” will be helpful in guiding our planning, and we thank those of you who took the time to provide input. As we begin the process of a thorough review of the state guidelines, we will continue to engage our parents and staff to gather input as we develop the reopening plan for Woodland Public Schools so we can develop a plan that fits the needs and desires of Woodland’s students and aligns with the state’s recommendations. Information about opportunities to weigh in on the school reopening conversation will be forthcoming.

Home Learning Options

Some of our families may wish to continue at-home learning for their kids next fall. We understand and hope to be able to support you and your children if you are planning on this option. Woodland has high quality alternative programs that provide great opportunities for at-home learning — Lewis River Academy (K-8) and TEAM High School (9-12). If you are interested in considering these options, please contact Jake Hall (hallj@woodlandschools.org, 360.841.2700) to discuss these opportunities.

Next Steps

This is uncharted territory, and there will be some elements of the plan that will need to be worked out along the way. Please know that our number one priority is always the health and safety of our students and staff. This priority will be at the heart of every decision we make. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this process and promise to stay in close communication with you as we move forward.

As we end this school year, please stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!

Sincerely,

Michael Green, Superintendent
Woodland Public Schools