Dear Westport Community Schools families and staff:
I am writing this evening to share updates regarding our fall reentry learning plans. As we continue to plan for a hybrid reentry as presented on August 14, 2020, we have listened to feedback from staff and families regarding the reentry plan. We have continued to work as a leadership team to discuss ways to enhance the plan to ensure the safest and most supportive academic learning opportunities for our students. While it has been the state’s goal to return students fully in-person to the greatest extent possible, we also must do so in a manner that ensures the highest physical and social/emotional safety for our students and staff.
I wanted to update families and staff on the status of some of the steps that have been/will be taken as part of our reentry process (regardless of learning plan):
- Our custodial staff is working hard this summer to clean all classrooms extensively and to install additional cleaning/sanitization products in classrooms (ie. automatic hand sanitizers, glove storage stations, plexiglass shields in various areas of the school, etc).
- Our maintenance staff meets with local officials (fire, electrical inspector, building inspector, board of health) to discuss the installation of HEPA Air filtration systems. After a final review this Monday, these items will be purchased for all rooms Additionally, we are reviewing the purchase of fans (for both outside air intake and drawing air from the inside to out of the building to improve air circulation), which have been recommended by some experts. There is conflicting information about the value of the fans between experts; we have requested additional information from the HEPA Air Filtration supplier about the fans’ impact on the effectiveness of the HEPA Air Filtration systems. Additionally, we have asked the local board of health to review this information and provide a recommendation. We anticipate that this information will be available by the end of the day Monday and, if deemed appropriate, we will order the fans Monday afternoon.
- We scheduled an HVAC company to professionally clean and disinfect our ventilation system, and the company will provide a summary report upon completion.
- Desk shields are ordered for each student and staff member. These clear shields are three-sided and are placed on the student’s desk as a further layer of protection. These shields weigh less than a pound and are folded up so that students can take them between classes (if they travel between classes) and to lunch. When in class, the students will still need to wear masks even when using these shields.
- Chromebooks have been ordered for all students in the district to help support any potential remote learning that may occur during the year. The initial order was placed in May and has not been received yet. A subsequent order was placed at the beginning of this month and we are expecting that shipment by mid-September. If there is a need for a student to use a chromebook device before receiving the new devices, we will work with those families to ensure access to the appropriate technology (as was done last year).
- Online texts – There are several texts with online licenses so that the students can access the textbook on the computer, rather than carry a hard copy back and forth to school. We have purchased licenses for these texts and will continue to increase our access to online textbooks.
- Electrostatic Sprayers have been ordered for availability throughout the day. These will be used daily by custodians as part of the end of day cleaning routine and throughout the day by custodians and staff in classrooms and throughout the school (particularly in high touch areas of the buildings).
- We continue to explore UV-C technology as an additional layer of cleaning and sanitization protection.
We recognize that families need to plan for whichever learning model is implemented in the fall and it is difficult for you to do so when aspects of the plan continue to adjust. Please know that we appreciate this challenge. To that end, it is our intention to discuss any final adjustments to the proposed fall learning plan with the school committee on Tuesday evening, August 25. Because of the potential for a large audience at this meeting and the inability for us to ensure appropriate social distancing in the library for this meeting, the meeting will be held remotely. The link for the meeting is:
Topic: School Committee Meeting
Time: Aug 25, 2020 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 852 7025 2367
It is my goal to have all information finalized and available for discussion at this meeting. Additionally, if there are any proposed adjustments to the learning model for the fall, the committee will be meeting on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 to vote on any proposed changes. The link for this meeting is:
Topic: School Committee Meeting
Time: Aug 26, 2020 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 810 1902 7902
We understand the anxiety that arises when plans appear to be uncertain. Please know that we are working hard to finalize the plans with the most current information and feedback we have available to ensure that our plan is thoughtful and reflective of the needs of our students and families. As always, thank you for your continued support of our district.
We are the Westport Community Schools!
Gary S. Reese, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools