Williamsville Central School District

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9-21-20 Williamsville Relaunch Plan Update




September 21, 2020

 

To Our Williamsville Community:

Thank you for your understanding and support as we find solutions during this difficult time and move forward positively. We have been working very hard to solve our current dilemma and bring fair and equitable education to all of our students.

As you are aware, a difficult decision had to be made to go temporarily fully remote in grades 5-12 because we were out of compliance with the law and could not have 1,400 students left behind without an education.

We had to make an immediate decision to step back, reevaluate, and develop a plan to fix the situation as soon as possible. The State Education Department is aware of the situation and we are in regular communication with them. They are supporting us as we develop our plan.

Everyone in our community, including our students, staff and parents have experienced great anxiety and stress over this situation. That is why we have been working diligently as a team to find a solution as soon as possible. Living in this state of uncertainty is untenable and is not sustainable for anyone.

To solve this problem, we formed four committees that began work immediately. 

They are:

  • Reset, Relaunch, Return Committee
  • Scheduling Committee
  • Social / Emotional Well-Being Committee
  • Creative Engagement Committee

The committee charged with the immediate task of researching and finding the best possible instructional model to move forward is the Reset, Relaunch, Return Committee.

  • The committee met every day last week
  • The committee had over 40 participants including teachers, principals, instructional specialists, support staff, and assistant superintendents
  • We met with five local school districts, as well as the University of Buffalo and Erie 1 BOCES
  • I also met with student and parent leaders to hear their concerns and suggestions

Guiding principles were established to navigate our decision-making process.

Those principles are:

  1. We needed to maintain the same existing class schedules for continuity and consistency.
  2. Every student will keep their existing teachers because the student-teacher relationship is critical to students’ success and essential to support their social/emotional well-being.
  3. Students should also continue to be able to maintain relationships with students in their class. These relationships are crucial to our students at this time.
  4. We needed to ensure flexibility for our staff to allow them to take the first steps to begin this process.
  5. We also believe it is imperative that staff receive ongoing training and support, and that they are provided the time necessary to collaborate with each other to maximize success.

Next comes our Implementation Timeline, which is based on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, teacher preparation and how quickly and thoroughly we can prepare our staff. We want to make certain the staff is appropriately prepared to maximize quality and success for our students. We also want to assure our teachers that they will be supported step-by-step throughout this process.

Based on our guiding principles, the research we conducted, and after rich dialogue and discussion, the committee has recommended a learning model that meets our district’s unique needs, and that we believe is in the best interest of our students.

The Williamsville Relaunch Plan is based on the following essential elements:

  • The students and teachers will follow their normal schedule four days a week, learning in-school or at home. Current class schedules will remain the same. Wednesday’s schedule will be modified.
  • A daily synchronous experience for all students in each class on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and in homerooms on Wednesdays. This may look different in certain special area classes.
  • Hybrid in-person learning, hybrid remote learners, and fully remote learners are all part of the same class.
  • A learning model that engages students who are learning in-person and remotely during the same class period, both synchronously and asynchronously. This model will also allow us to maintain proper social distancing for the health and safety of our students.
  • Teachers have the flexibility to choose how to engage students within the essential element framework. They will make choices among synchronous and asynchronous, as well as small group and whole group, based on the needs of the students and the objectives of the lesson.
  • Self-Contained District Special Needs classes will continue to report to school five days a week.
  • Wednesdays for teachers include a brief synchronous experience with students as well as asynchronous learning.  There will also be time for collaboration, professional learning opportunities, and planning.

The Reset, Relaunch, Return Committee is currently developing an Implementation Timeline. We want to ensure that our staff has the proper preparation and support to be successful.

The Implementation Timeline will be released later this week.

I am confident that this model will bring clarity and focus for our entire Williamsville community, and allow us to move forward in a positive direction.

I will continue to communicate with you on a daily basis, and I thank you again for your support.

Sincerely,

Dr. John McKenna
Acting Superintendent of Schools