March 21, 2020 - COVID-19 update from KUSD
It is KUSD’s day six of closure during the pandemic that has seized our country. Amidst the many articles on this topic, I read, “Don’t miss the beautiful colors of the rainbow when you are looking for the pot of gold.” This resonated with me based on the current challenges our country is facing. This pandemic is causing us to pause, reflect on who we are and focus on supporting one another in a time of crisis.
As of March 17, 2020, Gov. Evers shared that “schools will be closed for the duration of the public health emergency.” This currently does not have an end date, but extends beyond the initial return to school date of Monday, April 6. As such, our schools will remain closed until further notice. We understand the concern this may cause, but we do not have an answer from the state as to when this will end at this current time.
We know many questions still remain, such as what this means for high school seniors, how students will obtain credits, how grades will be impacted, and more. Please know that I am working to acquire answers and am expecting guidance from the state and/or Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) soon.
I especially understand the fears and trepidation among our high school seniors. They are fearful they may not be able to walk the stage as has been done for hundreds of years in celebration of a monumental achievement. I assure you, our goal is to provide as much support and normalcy for this group, as well as all others, despite the challenges we are facing. Unfortunately, we do not have answers right now, but I do anticipate information/direction to be forthcoming from the state and/or DPI soon.
Here is what we know as of today:
- Gov. Evers ordered schools to be closed “indefinitely” during this health crisis.
- There is currently no end date for this closure.
- DPI will grant a waiver for the time schools are closed due to the pandemic.
- KUSD submitted the Wisconsin Instructional Hour requirement waiver due to the closure caused by Coronavirus/COVID-19. The board will vote to support this waiver application at its regular meeting on April 27, 2020.
- DPI will grant a waiver for the Wisconsin Forward exam due to the pandemic.
- KUSD will submit a waiver for this area as well.
- DPI will grant a waiver for the civics exam due to the pandemic.
- KUSD will submit a waiver for this area as well.
- We anticipate information to be forthcoming from the state and/or DPI regarding how grades and graduation will be affected.
- Our grab and go lunches are going well and are appreciated by many - we are distributing over 1,100 meals daily.
- Our COVID-19 webpages in English and Spanish are being updated regularly.
We would like to offer the following information regarding learning activities in KUSD. First, we encourage you to check out the learning activities posted in English and Spanish on our website and to review the updated Q&A for additional details.
Second, on Monday, March 23, we will begin distributing a weekly learning activity sheet with our grab and go lunches.
Third, your child’s teacher(s) may begin sharing non-graded learning activities via email, apps, Google classroom, etc. These will not be graded or required due to the equity issues that exist, but they will help bridge the gap between now and our return to normalcy, whenever that may come. Your child may also turn in work that was required prior to Friday, March 13. Our goal is not to overload students, but rather to ensure they continue learning.
AP instruction has been a hot topic and we encourage you to review the latest update from AP regarding online tests that are being developed for students. Of important note from AP, “To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.”
Beginning next week, principals will work with their instructional teams to set expectations for learning activities.
I feel it is important to share why we are not providing graded learning activities at this time. Due to state and federal requirements, and the desire to provide an equitable education to all students, we face many hurdles, including:
- Being the third-largest district in the state, with nearly 21,000 students, many do not have the technology or access necessary for online learning.
- Providing special education services to exceptional students while facing social distancing requirements and health concerns.
- Families who are working multiple jobs and the capacity to also teach/supervise/support their children during this crisis may be limited.
We are not alone. In speaking to our peer urban districts and DPI on Friday, March 20, Green Bay Public Schools, Madison Metropolitan School District, Milwaukee Public Schools and Racine Unified shared that they are in the same boat. I share this as a reality that many districts are facing during this unchartered time. Most are simply not prepared for virtual learning that includes graded work.
I am grateful for the outpouring of support and understanding as we navigate this pandemic one day at a time.
Be safe and well,
Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis