Return of PK - 5 Students for Onsite Instruction
In our update to stakeholders on October 13, we shared that decisions on reentry will be made on a building-by-building basis (led by building principals and site-based leadership teams) with support from district leadership. We also promised families and staff a timeline for the transition of PK-5 students to an increased onsite instructional model for those that choose onsite learning; those details are included in this update.
The CDC states, “It is critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning. To enable schools to open and remain open, it is important to adopt and correctly and consistently implement actions to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, not only inside the school, but also in the community. This means that students, families, teachers, school staff, and all community members should take actions to protect themselves and others where they live, work, learn, and play. In short, success in preventing the introduction and subsequent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools is connected to and dependent upon preventing transmission in communities.” Based on this feedback from the CDC, as well as on guidance from Essentia Health, Norht Dakota Department of Health, and Fargo Cass Public Health, WFPS has decided to move forward with returning PK-5 students to four days of onsite instruction in the month of November.
Each elementary building has a unique setting, population, resources, etc. which will inform their opening timeline. Each school will also be planning with the below list of key mitigation strategies at the forefront. However, due to the differences in our individual buildings, these strategies will be implemented to the largest extent possible, practical, and feasible:
- Consistent and correct use of masks
- Social distancing to the extent possible
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Contact tracing in collaboration with local health department
Harwood and Legacy Elementary Schools will be the first two schools in the district to bring students back four days a week. Throughout the month of November, Wednesdays will continue to be an offsite learning day for elementary students. Harwood and Legacy distributed their reentry plans to families yesterday, pending authorization of changes to our district Return to Learn Plan from the School Board at their October 26 meeting.
All elementary buildings are planning for full, five-day reentry by Monday, November 30 (the first day of Trimester 2). Please watch for information from your child’s building principal regarding the timeline and details for how your elementary school will be returning.
We understand that the timing of this decision may seem contradictory based on Cass County’s current orange risk level status. Please know that we are making this decision because of the high numbers in the community and the advice from healthcare professionals that returning students to more onsite instruction will reduce the number of transmissible moments in their days, thereby reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. If families are uncomfortable returning their children to four days of onsite instruction, the opportunity will exist for them to move to the Virtual Program.