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Information for Parents About Options for School in August

Converse County School District #1 is dedicated to and determined to meet the educational needs of all of our students this fall despite the difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state health orders and the Smart Start requirements provided by the Wyoming Department of Education will be followed. The district has developed a three-tiered plan which will be submitted to the department of education for approval to ensure funding will continue to the flow to the district should we have to move among the tiers throughout the school year. The metrics related to COVID-19 in our state and in our county along with our capacity to meet those challenges will determine the tier we will operate in. The three tiers are Tier I—open to all students, Tier II—a hybrid/blended rotating model in which some students would be on campus and some learning from home on alternating schedules, and a Tier III where schools are closed to students and the virtual adaptive learning plan would be implemented.

Right now, Converse County School District #1 is in a position to open in Tier I. Schools will be open for all students to attend school in person. The district will also provide a virtual adaptive option for students whose health situation does not allow a full return to school or if other circumstances dictate the need for the student to learn from home. The district realizes it is the prerogative of parents to determine the best course of action for their children. We are trying to offer information to help parents make the best educational decisions they can for their children. The statutory requirement for students to attend school if they are of school age hasn’t been revised. Families have a few options.

  1. Students return to school in person (Tier I)--School will look similar but not exactly the same as it has in the past. Parents will be asked to screen their kids at home for signs of COVID-19. The district will encourage parents to transport their own children to school if possible; but for those who can’t transport their children, all bus routes will run. Students will be divided into groups for arrival on campus and for entry into the buildings through multiple entrances. Students will be kept with the same group as much as possible, but all elective courses will be offered. Lunch will be provided, but it’s likely it will be served in rooms, at least part of the time. Social distancing will be observed as much as possible. Shields will be ordered and deployed to be used as guards between students. When social distancing cannot be observed and shields are not practicable, face coverings must be worn. Transitions between classes and to and from lunch will be staggered. Students will be dismissed from different entrances after school.
  2. Students opt for virtual adaptive learning—in Tier I, an adaptive learning option will be offered for students whose health situation indicates they should not attend school in person or other circumstances make learning from home the best option for the student and family. Students will receive their regular courses virtually through platforms provided by the school district. School district staff will design, deliver, and monitor the instruction. The adaptive learning option this year will look different than it did in the spring. Last spring both teachers and students were adjusting to a new way of educational delivery and of learning. The priority standards in all subject areas were still taught, but the pace of the work was somewhat slower than normal. This fall, the district is prepared to offer the same content at the same pace as in person instruction. So students who choose the virtual adaptive option will be completing the same amount of work on the same timelines as students who are attending school in person. This ensures students can transition seamlessly back to school in person and that no learning opportunities are compromised.
  3. Home School option—home school has always been an option for families in our county and our state. Home schooling requires an application which can be obtained and returned to central office (307.358.2942) at 615 Hamilton Street. If parents choose home school as an option, they are responsible for the content of and the delivery of the curriculum for their children. The school district does not provide the curriculum or determine or control in any way the material that is taught. This option works well for many Wyoming families. However, if you have never home schooled your children, there are a multitude of considerations as this is a big commitment. Also, if your children have attended Converse County School District #1’s schools in the past and you intend for them to transition back at some point, it would be important to ensure the state standards are taught at home so students remain on track to ensure a smooth transition back to school. The district nor the state provide funding for home school students.
  4. Virtual option through another district or online provider—there are some school districts in Wyoming that have virtual schools, and there are many virtual schools throughout the country. Enrolling in one of these options constitutes a transfer of the student from Converse County School District #1 to another Wyoming district or to an online provider. Wyoming virtual schools are required to follow Wyoming state standards and students must be taught by a Wyoming-certified teacher. However, the content and pace of instruction may not mirror that of Converse #1. We would encourage parents to check into the content of the courses their children will be enrolled in. For high school students, it’s vitally important to ensure graduation requirements are met so as not to endanger on-time graduation from high school. Graduation requirements differ, so transferring to a different school district would require a student to meet the graduation requirements in that district. Moreover, if the student takes courses in an online school and then transitions back to Douglas High School, then that student would have to meet Douglas High School graduation requirements.

This is a quick overview of options available to families for the upcoming school year. Please contact your children’s schools for answers to more specific questions. Information will be coming out from schools and departments (transportation and nutrition, for instance) beginning later next week.

We want you to know we are making every effort to serve each of our students. All our kids and families are important to us. We are taking safety precautions seriously while striking a balance in creating a healthy learning environment for students. We want to keep all our students in our district, and we hope to work with each family to ensure the education of our kids is not interrupted or jeopardized.

This is the first of a series of Facebook live sessions to try to provide information to families.

Session 1—Options for parents and families, July 30, 2020 at 1 p.m.

Session 2—What will the school day look like? TBA

Session 3—What are we doing to keep people safe? TBA

Session 4—Frequently heard questions, TBA

Session 5—Activities for fall, TBA

If you want more information about considering options for your children, this CDC Decision-Making Tool for Parents is a good resource. A topic about which we have heard some questions is the wearing of face coverings. The superintendent in Pinedale, Jay Harnack, wrote a blog to his families that sums up the requirements about wearing face coverings in school. Rather than reinvent that wheel, you can access the information on his website here. He references all the state requirements in the post.