MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Update (August 10)

Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,

Working in response to a fluid and ever-changing situation, we’ve made a point of communicating what we know and involving you wherever possible to ensure a safe return to school in the fall.

This goal hasn’t changed… I want to let you know that we have recently received new information from our local public health officials that could result in a change to the Learning Options – The elimination of Option A: Hybrid Model to begin the new school year.

Most of you are likely aware that not too long ago, Governor Inslee held a press conference where he announced an updated set of guidelines issued by the WA State Department of Health. Consistent with what we anticipated, they were not mandates, rather guidelines that include thresholds defined by the number of positive COVID 19 cases per 100,000 during a two week period. He also said that these thresholds were developed to assist local school leaders and public health officials make informed decisions as to when it would be safe to open schools up (partially or fully) for in-person instruction within our respective communities.

What we’ve learned since is that local public health officials have the ability to further tighten the guidelines set forth by the WA State Department of Health if and when they believe there is a need to do so in support of a community’s safety.

In a joint letter recently issued by public health officials representing Region 7 (Chelan-Douglas Counties, Grant County, Okanogan County, and Kittitas County), it has been made clear that based upon the rapid rise in positive COVID 19 cases throughout our region and within each county, all school districts should plan to begin school remotely in the fall. More specifically, they have stated the following:

  • We do not support a return to in-person classroom instruction when the county incidence of COVID-19 is above 75 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • We support a hybrid approach with K-5 and other educationally high-risk groups in-person in classrooms with COVID precautions when the county incidence of COVID-19 is < 75 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • We support return to in-person classroom instruction for all student populations, with COVID-19 precautions, when the county incidence of COVID-19 is < 25 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • School districts may petition the Local Public Health Jurisdiction for an exception to these reopening thresholds and other standards.

Please know that I have initiated conversations with our local public health officials, asking about the feasibility of an “exception” for the MVSD based upon our current case loads within the MVSD attendance boundaries, community involvement in the development of the MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Plan, and available learning options for students and parents.

I look forward to sharing what I learn and more during the upcoming MVSD 2020-21 Return to Learn Informational Meeting set to take place remotely via Zoom on Thursday, August 13th from 6 – 7:30 pm.

Sincerely,

Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District

MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Informational Meeting – Thursday, August 13th, 6 – 7:30 pm.

Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,

MVSD 2020-21 "Return to Learn" QuestionnaireI want to take a brief moment to thank those of you who have completed the MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Questionnaire. Having reviewed all of the responses received thus far, a number of themes have emerged with the most common being:

  • Gratitude for the district’s efforts to provide parents with three safe, return to school options to select from in support of their child’s physical, social-emotional, and academic needs.
  • Interest in learning more about each learning option (A: Hybrid Model, B: Remote Learning, and C: REACH – Homeschooling Partnership) in support of making an informed decision.
  • Hope that Option A, a hybrid model involving a minimum of two days of in-person instruction remains a possibility within the MVSD.
  • Concerns about the physical safety of our students, staff, and our community, balanced with the social-emotional and academic needs of our youth.

In an effort to respond to your questions, concerns, and ideas, we will be hosting a MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Informational meeting via Zoom on Thursday, August 13th.

Moderated by MVSD Superintendent, Tom Venable, members of the district’s leadership team will be asked to respond to a set of pre-selected questions, concerns, and ideas that have been shared by students, parents, and community members. In order to ensure the most efficient use of time, we’d ask that your questions be sent to Tom Venable at tvenable@methow.org no later than 12:00 pm on Tuesday, August 11th. A Zoom link will be posted to the district website in advance of the meeting.

The meeting will be recorded and posted to our district website for those unable to participate in the live session.

Sincerely,

Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District

MVSD “Return to Learn” Questionnaire and Updated FAQ

Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,

We need your help! In an effort to coordinate and fine tune our staffing assignments, instructional resources, digital devices, internet services, childcare services, meal services, and other related services in advance of the beginning of the school year, we are asking you to complete the MVSD “Return to Learn” Questionnaire, which is also available in hardcopy at the district office.

We are asking every family to complete the questionnaire in support of our planning process no later than Friday, August 14th.

To assist you in your efforts to make an informed decision, that you believe will best meet the needs of your child(ren), we ask that you read some of the more recent “Frequently Asked Questions” listed below. While not exhaustive, they reflect some of the many questions we’ve been fielding from students, parents, and community members.

• View/download “Plan de reabrir las Escuelas MVSD 2020-21” (PDF 1.8MB)

 


 

Updated Frequently Asked Questions

Will the school year begin on time as scheduled?
Yes. The 2020-21 school year is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 31st.

It’s my understanding that Governor Inslee held a press release today where he shared a set of metrics developed by the WA State Department of Health, providing guidance to school districts and local public health officials. Is that true?
Yes. Governor Inslee announced the updated guidelines school districts and local public health officials are strongly encouraged to use when giving consideration to the reopening (fully or partially) or closing of schools using a set of metrics – thresholds (positive COVID 19 cases per 100,000).

The thresholds for the gradual reopen of schools are consistent with what we had predicted and align with the current MVSD Learning Options available to students who attend the MVSD at this time.

So, what does all this mean for our schools in the fall?
In brief, it suggests that while a full reopening of our schools is not yet possible due to the state required six feet social distancing mandate, all three learning options (A-C) remain viable options for parents of students who attend the MVSD (assuming the number of positive COVID 19 cases in the Methow Valley remains low).

It sounds like decision-making is being left to school districts and local public health officials… What, if any further guidance has the MVSD received from our local public health officials knowing Okanogan County currently appears to be a hotspot for positive COVID 19 cases?

  • Our local public health officials have stated that based upon the numbers, the Methow Valley, unlike other parts of the county, appears to be doing a good job of adhering to the guidelines and mandates associated with social distancing, facial coverings, proper hygiene, and cohorting/bubbling…
  • Assuming it can maintain low numbers of positive cases, it seems reasonable that the MVSD is in a position to open its doors for some in-person instruction (Hybrid Model) in the fall.
  • Providing students and families with flexible options makes good sense in the face of a fluid situation.
  • It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you have a positive case within your schools… Your planning efforts associated with screening, testing, isolation, and outbreaks suggest you’re prepared to respond and adjust as needed.

The MVSD has described three options: A-C. I’m somewhat confused… Does the MVSD plan on telling me what my option will be or do I get to choose the option that works best for my student and family?
Assuming the number of positive COVID 19 cases in the Methow Valley remains low, we anticipate all three options (A-C) will be available to parents to select from in support of their child(ren)’s learning.

Can you remind me what the options are that I can select from?
We’re happy to do so. They include:

OPTION A: A K-12 A/B hybrid model involving a minimum of two days of high quality, small group, in-person instruction aligned with three days of teacher-directed distance learning. Distance learning will be supported by a comprehensive, yet customizable curriculum intended to supplement in-person instruction.

  • At MVE, students in grades K-6 will receive high quality, small group, in-person instruction from a certificated teacher a minimum of two days per week, aligned with three days of MVE teacher-directed distance learning (assignments, projects, and online resources).
  • At Liberty Bell, students in grades 7-12 will participate in 4 classes per semester for a total of 8 classes (inclusive of elective coursework) per year. This includes high quality, small group, in-person instruction from a certificated teacher a minimum of two days per week, aligned with three days of MVE teacher-directed distance learning (assignments, projects, internships, and online resources).
  • At the ILC, students will pursue an individualized program of study, inclusive of coursework, student-initiated projects, and community-based internships with the support of a certificated advisor. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and support to implement the online resources.

Option B: A K-12 100% remote learning program facilitated by MVSD staff using OSPI-approved online learning platform (Accelerate in grades K-5, Edgenuity in grades 6-12), Google Classroom, and other online resources, enhanced with teacher-directed instruction, assignments, feedback, and supplemental resources.

  • Grades K-5
    • Students of families in grades K-5 who choose to participate in a 100% remote learning in the place of in-person instruction (Option A) will do so with the support of an MVSD certificated teacher serving as an Online Learning Coordinator for a minimum of one semester.
    • In the event that it’s determined that our schools need to close and pivot to 100% remote learning for all students in grades K-5, they will receive daily instruction, regular assignments, and feedback from their MVSD teacher through the use of Accelerate Academy and/or other online resources.
    • The online curriculum will be supplemented with other teacher-directed assignments, student projects, and content-based (literacy and mathematics) online resources intended to enhance student learning. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and technical support to successfully implement an online learning program.
  • Grades 6-12
    • Students of families in grades 6-12 who choose to participate in a 100% remote learning in the place of in-person instruction will do so with the support of an MVSD certificated teacher serving as an Online Learning Coordinator for a minimum of one semester.
    • In the event it’s determined that our schools need to close and pivot to 100% remote learning for all students in grades 6-12, they will receive daily instruction, regular assignments, and feedback from MVSD teachers through the use of Edgenuity, Google Classroom, and other online resources.
    • The curriculum will be supplemented with teacher-directed assignments, student projects, community-based internships, and content-based online resources intended to enhance student learning. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and technical support to successfully implement an online learning program.

OPTION C: A K-8 homeschool parent partnership program (REACH) that is designed to support homeschooling students and parents. Working with a certificated MVSD teacher, each student and their parent(s) will develop an individualized learning plan, select from a list of OSPI-approved instructional resources, and receive ongoing monitoring and support.

What if I select to participate in the 100% remote learning option? Am I required to do so for the full year?

Parents who choose for their child to participate in the 100% remote learning option will be assigned an MVSD Online Coordinator. As such, it will be expected that the student and parent commit to participating in a 100% remote learning option for one semester.

At the end of the first semester, the student and parent can choose another option (assuming other options are available at that time) or choose to continue participating in a 100% remote learning for the remainder of the year.

What safety measures will be put in place to ensure the health and wellness of all students and staff when attending school?

  • The MVSD is committed to working within the guidelines and mandates set forth by the CDC, WA DOH, local public health officials, OSPI, and the Governor’s Office.
  • The MVSD has established a partnership with Family Health Centers (FHC), ensuring all students have access to healthcare services.
  • The MVSD, working in partnership with FHC, has expanded our school nursing services to full time.
  • The MVSD will ensure all students and staff have access to rapid testing on-site, facilitated by the school nurse.

What if I have more than one child enrolled in the MVSD and we are participating in the hybrid model? Can they attend school on the same day?
• The MVSD will do everything possible to place siblings in the same cohort, ensuring they attend on the same day.

Can I request a M/T or Th/F Hybrid Schedule?
We will provide parents who elect to have their child(ren) participate in Option A: Hybrid Model with an opportunity to indicate their preference as it relates to the days their child(ren) attend school. We will do our best to accommodate parent requests. However, there are no guarantees.

Can I request that my child be placed in a cohort that is consistent with my neighborhood cohort/bubble?

Similar to any school year, our first priority is to create balanced classes that include consideration involving a variety of factors.

Unlike any other year, we will provide parents with the opportunity to share what and with whom they “quaranteam” with outside of the school day. However, there are no guarantees that we will be able to accommodate your request.

Will student attendance be required?
Yes.

Can I expect my student to receive daily instruction and regular feedback from their teacher?
Yes.

Will students be assigned work they are required to complete?
Yes.

Will there be grades?
Yes.

Will there be opportunities for students to access academic tutoring, mentorship, and/or other individualized support?
Yes. The district will be exploring the possibility of developing a network of academic and social-emotional support groups (learning pods, small group enrichment activities, internships, community in-service projects, etc.) that students can access when not receiving in-person instruction.

What if my child qualifies for Special Education services, English Language services, and/or 504 accommodations?

The MVSD staff plans to work closely with the parents of every student who qualifies for related services to successfully access the general education curriculum and/or goals outlined in the student’s individual learning plan.

Will the LBHS schedule provide my student with the same number of credits and elective courses as the previous 8-period, block schedule?
Yes.

Has the school district considered an outdoor education model?
Yes.

  • LBHS will be offering two new Outdoor Education and Recreation courses.
  • The MVSD has rented 8 large tents to serve as outdoor classroom spaces if and when in-person instruction can occur.
  • The MVSD, with the support of the Winthrop Kiwanis Club is constructing several outdoor hand washing stations to be placed throughout our school campus.
  • Classroom teachers at all grade levels will be encouraged to educate outdoors whenever possible.

My family doesn’t have a digital device and/or Internet connection. Will there be assistance available?
Yes.

  • As part of the district’s commitment to a “free and appropriate public education,” the district, using it’s technology levy funding is preparing to checkout digital devices to every student.
  • Using COVID 19 relief funding, the district will be working with families who do not currently have access to the internet to ensure access wherever possible.
  • We are also exploring a variety of possibilities that include: partnering with cellular providers to provide temporary towers, using schools buses to serve as hotspots, etc.

Will there be childcare services available?
Yes. Similar to last spring the district will continue to provide on-site childcare services to essential workers (medical providers, first responders, grocery store employees, and MVSD, Little Star, and Head Start staff).

On days when my student doesn’t attend school, will there be meal services?
Yes. We will share more detailed information as we approach the beginning of the school year.

Who can I contact if I have further questions?
We encourage you to direct your questions to the following individuals

MVSD School Nurse Working to Expand the Walls of the Classroom

MVSD Handwashing StationMVSD School Nurse, Adri Vanbianchi, is working in partnership with the UW Architecture Department, Winthrop Kiwanis Club, Cascade Pipe, Riverside Printing, and the North Central Accountable Community of Health (NCACH) to build and install several outdoor hand washing stations throughout the MVSD campus.

When asked about the innovative project, MVSD School Nurse, Adri Vanbianchi stated, “We’re expanding the walls of the classroom to include the outdoors!” She added, “As a member of the Reopen MVSD Schools, we’ve looked at the survey results. We listened to our parents and community members. One of the common themes that emerged included the use of our outdoor spaces as a place of learning. Outdoor hand washing stations will allow us to do so safely.”

Equipped with this information, Adri was able to find a prototype for an outdoor hand washing station developed by the UW’s Architecture Department and secure a grant from the NCACH. Shortly thereafter, she obtained materials provided by Cascade Pipe, stickers designed by Riverside Printing, and labor donated from the Winthrop Kiwanis Club.

Please join us as we recognize MVSD School Nurse, Adri Vanbianchi, the UW Architecture Department, Winthrop Kiwanis Club, Cascade Pipe, Riverside Printing and the NCACH for their collective efforts to support our students’ safe return to school!

MVSD Automotive Tech Class Coming to the TwispWorks Campus

TwispWorks and the Methow Valley School District (MVSD) have a long-standing partnership that ensures young people are prepared for career choices that meet their skills, abilities and interests. The Welding and Advanced Construction Tech programs are examples of successful trade skill building offerings currently available to students.

Recently, the MVSD received a grant to provide students access to vocational and technical training programs. Through this grant, students are already pursuing diesel mechanic and welding training. When asked, students have reported an automotive tech program would be their number one interest for vocational training if it were available. Based on this interest from the student body and on the needs of area businesses, TwispWorks and the MVSD are working to deliver an automotive tech program on the TwispWorks campus.

Our plan includes refurbishing a garage next to the Independent Learning Center (ILC) so that students can get hands-on experience while also participating in classroom instruction.

You can learn more about the program and ways you can help make it happen https://twispworks.org/ilc-expansion-and-automotive-tech-shop-overview/

Reopen MVSD Schools 2020-21 Plan: Flexible Learning Options in the Face of a Fluid Situation

Schools will announce fall plans soon. I imagine everyone will be unhappy. Remember, you help determine your child’s attitude.  Be angry or sad in private. Discuss your frustrations away from the kids. Set them up for success by teaching them to make the best of it. Be a sounding board for their worries and disappointments. Stay positive and model perseverance.

It goes without saying; this is not where we expected to be at this time… 

Like many of you, our school board members, administrative team, and staff are eager to see our students return to school. Unfortunately, the continued increase in the number of positive COVID 19 cases, existing facilities, staffing constraints, inability to fully comply with the current state mandates have eliminated the possibility for us to offer a full reopening of our schools in the fall. 

However, we’re pleased with the “positive attitude and perseverance” displayed by our staff, parents, and many community members that have contributed to the development of a flexible plan that allows us to pivot as needed in the face of a highly fluid and ever-changing environment, ensuring the success of every student. 

Flexible Learning Options

Assuming our schools remain open for some in-person instruction beginning in the fall, the plan provides students and parents with the following options:

OPTION A: A K-12 A/B hybrid model involving a minimum of two days of high quality, small group, in-person instruction aligned with three days of teacher-directed distance learning. Distance and online learning will be supported by a comprehensive yet customizable curriculum intended to supplement in-person instruction. At Liberty Bell, students in grades 7-12 will participate in 4 classes per semester for a total of 8 classes (inclusive of elective coursework) per year. At the ILC, students will pursue an individualized program of study, inclusive of coursework, student-initiated projects, and community-based internships with the support of a certificated advisor. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and support to implement the online resources.

OPTION B: A K-12 100% remote learning program facilitated by MVSD staff using OSPI-approved online learning platforms, enhanced with teacher-directed instruction, assignments, feedback, and supplemental resources.

  • Grades K-5: Students in grades K-5 will receive daily instruction, regular assignments, and feedback from MVSD teachers through the use of Accelerate Academy. The curriculum will be supplemented with other teacher-directed assignments, student projects, and content-based (literacy and mathematics) online resources intended to enhance student learning. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and technical support to successfully implement an online learning program.
  • Grades 6-12: Students in grades 6-12 will receive daily instruction, regular assignments, and feedback from MVSD teachers through the use of Google Classroom and/or Edgenuity. The curriculum will be supplemented with teacher-directed assignments, student projects, community-based internships, and content-based online resources intended to enhance student learning. Students, parents, and staff will receive training and technical support to successfully implement an online learning program.

OPTION C: A K-8 homeschool parent partnership program (REACH) designed to support homeschooling students and parents. Working with an MVSD teacher, each student and their parent(s) will develop an individualized learning plan, select from a list of OSPI-approved instructional resources, and receive ongoing monitoring and support.

Options A, B, and C were developed based upon the guidelines set forth by OSPI, the CDC, WA State Department of Health, Local Public Health Officials, and the Governor’s Office. Further, they align with the following set of priorities:

  • The physical safety of our students, staff, parents, family members, and the community.
  • The social-emotional health and wellness of our students, parents, and staff.
  • Students and families who are at high risk (physically, social-emotionally, academically).
  • Creative and adaptable forms of teaching and learning that promote high levels of student engagement in their learning.
  • Initial and ongoing professional development and training needed to implement a coherent, high-quality system of teaching and learning.
  • The work schedule and childcare needs of families.
  • Community input.
  • Science, not politics.
  • The ability to pivot in a highly fluid and ever-changing environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ #2

When do I let the MVSD know which option I plan to select for my child?
You can expect to receive a questionnaire associated with the learning options and other related services no later than Wednesday, August 5th. In support of our planning efforts, we will ask that you fill out and return the questionnaire electronically or in a hardcopy no later than Friday, August 14th.

If I have questions about my student’s flexible learning plan, whom should I contact?
Please contact your school’s principal or school guidance counselor during normal business hours anytime, Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, August 17th.

Will the school year begin on time as scheduled?
Yes, the school year is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 31st.

What will the first week of school look like?
Different. In an effort to reduce fear, anxiety, and set up teams of students, parents and staff for success, we will be facilitating a district-wide orientation during the first week of school. Similar to Kindergarten Parent-Teacher Conferences, students and parents will be invited to attend an orientation (on a designated date and time) designed to provide students and parents with an opportunity to “meet and greet” their teacher(s), participate in online training, checkout devices if needed, and link students and families to other important resources intended to support each student’s success.

I’ve heard the WA Department of Health is planning on providing updated guidance and a set of metrics to be used by schools to determine if it’s safe to open. With the rapid rise in COVID cases in Okanogan County, is it possible that schools will be closed for in-person instruction?
This is true. There is speculation that the WA Department of Health will be issuing new guidance and/or directives using metrics/thresholds associated with the number of positive COVID cases per 100,000 citizens (by county) to make informed decisions regarding school closures. Further, these numbers will be used to determine when a school district can safely reopen its schools for some or full in-person instruction.

What if I have more than one child enrolled in the MVSD and we decide to participate in the hybrid model? Can they attend school on the same day?
The MVSD will do everything possible to place siblings in the same cohort, ensuring they attend on the same day.

Can you give me an example of what this could look like in Okanogan County?
Well, let’s say the WA Department of Health established a threshold of 75 positive COVID cases per 100,000 or fewer is required for a two week period for schools to open their doors for in-person instruction. As of Wednesday, July 29, Okanogan County’s numbers were as high as 999/100,000. As a result, we would not be in a position to offer Option A, a hybrid model, and would then pivot to Options B and C. Once the number of positive cases dropped below 75, we would be able to pivot, expanding the options available to students and parents.

Would there be exceptions made for school districts within counties that exceed the threshold?
That’s a good question. We don’t yet know, but we’ll be listening closely to what they have to share.

FAQ #1

What safety measures will be put in place to ensure the health and wellness of all students and staff when attending school?
The MVSD is committed to working with the guidelines and mandates set forth by the CDC, WA DOH, local public health officials, OSPI, and the Governor’s Office.

What if I have more than one child enrolled in the MVSD and we are participating in the hybrid model? Will they attend school on the same day?
The MVSD will do everything possible to place siblings in the same cohort, ensuring they attend on the same day.

Will student attendance be required?
Yes.

Can I expect my student to receive daily instruction and regular, ongoing forms of feedback from their teacher?
Yes.

Will students be assigned work they are required to complete?
Yes.

Will there be grades?
Yes.

Will there be opportunities for students to access academic tutoring, mentorship, and/or other individualized support?
The district will be working on developing a network of academic and social-emotional support systems that students can access when not receiving in-person instruction.

What if my child qualifies for Special Education services, English Language services, and/or 504 accommodations?
The MVSD staff will work closely with the parents of every student who qualifies for related services to successfully access the general education curriculum and/or goals outlined in the student’s individual learning plan.

Will the LBHS schedule provide my student with the same number of credits and elective courses as the previous 8-period, block schedule?
Yes.

Has the school district considered an outdoor education model?
Yes. LBHS will be offering two new Outdoor Education and Recreation courses. The district has also rented 8 large tents to serve as outdoor classroom spaces if and when in-person instruction can occur. Classroom teachers at all grade levels will be encouraged to educate outdoors whenever possible. 

My family doesn’t have a digital device and/or Internet connection. Will there be assistance available?
Yes.

Will there be any supply fees, course fees, pay-to-play fees, or online enrollment fees?
No.

On days when my elementary student doesn’t attend school, will there be childcare services available?
Yes. Similar to last spring the district will continue to provide on-site childcare services to essential workers (medical providers, first responders, grocery store employees, and MVSD, Little Star, and Head Start staff).

On days when my student doesn’t attend school, will there be meal services?
Yes. What this will look like is yet to be determined based upon our circumstances.

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MVSD 2020-21 "Return to Learn" Informational Meeting • Thursday, August 13th @ 6 - 7:30 p.m.