Dear Wellesley Public Schools Community,
It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the past week. From our extended school closure to social distancing and remaining largely homebound, we have shifted into a new normal that is requiring a great deal of adjusting. I’m reaching out today to provide updates on several key topics.
As with all school districts in Massachusetts, which are now closed by order of the Governor until April 7th at the earliest, we have been working closely with our staff to prepare plans for remote student learning for the duration of the school closure. It’s important to note that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has given clear direction to districts that remote learning is not intended to replicate the work we normally do with students when school is in session, including the introduction of new curricula and graded assessments. Rather, the focus should be on providing enrichment opportunities that allow students to remain engaged in learning and to deepen their exposure to previously taught material. The attached overview provides a detailed explanation of what remote learning will look like at each level in WPS and how parents and students can access these web-based resources. The WPS Remote Learning website will be live beginning tomorrow, March 20th, at 8AM and can be accessed through our WPS website.
In preparation for the launch of our remote learning platform, we have taken several important steps. First we identified students who may be in need of loaner devices and issued these devices before students were dismissed from school last Thursday. Second, earlier this week we sent out an update that included resources for free internet access to families in need and further solicited families to notify us if they were in need of an internet-ready device. Finally, we worked closely with our staff to clarify expectations of student support and contact during the closure. Despite all of this preparation, I have no doubt that issues will arise that we will need to address. We ask for your patience in this process as we are all in this uncharted territory together.
I also want to update our community on how this closure will affect our school year. DESE required all districts to use the balance of their “snow days” during the initial week of this closure. Beyond that, the state is not requiring districts to go beyond their already-scheduled 185th day for students, which for WPS is June 22, 2020.
Related Activities & Assessments
Of course there are many other questions related to this closure that we cannot answer at this time, including new testing schedules (MCAS, SAT, ACT, AP, etc..) and how other activities/athletics/ events will be rescheduled. We will of course keep everyone apprised of these details as they become available.
WPS Meal Program
WPS will continue to offer meals through Whitsons for qualified students. Each day, we have been providing just over 100 students with breakfast and lunch and plan to continue this service for the duration of the closure. To place an order, please click on the link. It is possible that families may now qualify for the National School Lunch Program. Applications are accepted at any time and are available here. Completed applications can be mailed to the Wellesley Public Schools, 40 Kingsbury Street, Wellesley, MA 02481 Attn: Business Office. If you have any questions, please contact Cindy Mahr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last thing I want to highlight is that as much as we want to see learning continue for our students, safety must remain everyone’s first priority. Our federal, state and local guidance has been very clear about the need to avoid gatherings and to take the proactive steps we should all be taking to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please heed this advice.
In times of need, the strength of an organization and community becomes apparent. Despite the challenging days that remain before us, I have never been more proud of how our WPS staff, Town leaders, and members of our community have rallied together in response. We will need to maintain this spirit of collaboration and flexibility as we navigate through this uncertain time.
Dr. David Lussier
Superintendent of Schools