Dear WPS Community,
I write to you during unprecedented times when the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet peaked in our state or the country. The anxiety levels among our students, parents, and staff is palpable as we continue to deal with a crisis we have not experienced in our lifetimes. The safety of our community remains our first priority and I encourage everyone to continue heeding the guidance coming from our federal, state, and local health officials.
Among the many concerns we all share right now is how best to support our students while schools are not in session. When we announced the WPS closure on March 12th, educators across the district had already begun work on a remote learning plan for a two-week window of time. Based on clear guidance from the state, this approach was focused on educational enrichment and flexibility. Even as our remote learning site went live last week, it was clear that we would need to revisit this approach with the prospect of an even longer-than-anticipated closure likely. This was confirmed when Governor Baker announced on Wednesday that all schools in Massachusetts would remain closed until May 4th, 2020.
Yesterday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released new guidance to school districts on how to approach this extended closure. While recognizing that there are significant equity issues that challenge our support of all students through remote learning platforms, the Commissioner of Education encouraged districts to begin planning for a more robust approach to student learning, consistent with the planning already underway in WPS.
With a strong foundation already in place, WPS is working to complete version 2.0 of our remote learning model in the coming week, which we will then begin to roll out to the community. While we intend to provide a structure for meaningful learning at all levels, we fully intend to maintain a great deal of flexibility for our families and staff, knowing that we are each dealing with unique circumstances in our households that often must take priority.
Finally, while I appreciate the high anxiety levels that surround us all at the moment, I ask that we also pause and consider the core values that our district tries to uphold each day and let these values inform how we communicate and collaborate with one another during this time of uncertainty.
Please stay safe and healthy in the days ahead.
Dr. David Lussier
Superintendent of Schools