05 – COVID-19 Update – April 7 – Communication

April 7, 2020

As we begin the fourth week of school closures, I am grateful for the teamwork that I witness every day. As a school district, we feel a partnership with our parents and the communities that we serve. Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed collaborations between you and our staff that have yielded outcomes that you and the staff can be proud of. As a district, we continue to provide educational enrichment opportunities that align with the educational guidance that we’ve received from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Our focus goes beyond academics and includes actions such as providing meals through our grab-and-go pick up programs and communications with students to check in and offer assistance. Thank you for your support as we work together to focus on learning and suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


Based on the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, “schools will be closed… until at least April 24.” In a recent communication from the DPI, school districts have been encouraged to, “do long-range planning as if students will not be back in school for the rest of this school year.” This is not an official order, but based on the guidance, we are planning accordingly.


On April 14, 2020, we will conduct a special board meeting that will include a briefing to the Board regarding the educational enrichment activities that have been occuring, as well as how the educational plan might be modified. The time of this meeting is yet to be determined. I anticipate that this meeting will include discussions related to student grading, graduation requirements, high school credit, and other aspects related to the educational plan as we move forward. I anticipate that the Board will take action at this meeting relative to the district’s future educational plan for the remainder of this school closure or until further action would be taken to modify that plan. We will be providing parents and community members with the opportunity to share questions/comments as part of a virtual “public comment” portion of this meeting. This will be available on Wednesday, April 8, on our COVID-19 webpage: https://ofpanthers.com/covid-19-updates/.


We are currently developing multiple courses of action to present to the Board that will address how we will work together with our seniors to assist them in successfully completing the course requirements to graduate. These plans will also include how we will work with students in grades 9-11 to successfully earn credit for the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year. Given our alignment with the guidance from the DPI as it relates to education during COVID-19, we anticipate recommending to the Board to continue forward with educational enrichment for students in Pre-K through eighth grade.


As we move forward, communication will continue to be a key aspect to our success. If you and/or your child have not received communication from a teacher or school, please contact your child’s principal so that we can update your contact information and begin working together. Through your assistance we can ensure that your child is receiving the educational materials intended to assist them. I also anticipate that you will continue to get information shared with you from school staff as well as your school principal. This will assist you in understanding the educational supports being shared with your child and will be a resource for your questions.


As we do when school is in session, we will continue to focus on the needs of our students. Given the ever-changing environment that we’re now navigating due to this public health emergency, we will do our best to keep you informed from the classroom, school, and district level. Our staff is available and committed to helping all students and fielding questions to the best of our ability. We strongly encourage all students to be actively engaged in the educational opportunities that are being shared with them. In doing so, students will be better positioned to continue their educational programming when the school closures are lifted and school is back in session.
We are in this together, and together we are stronger.

Dean R. Hess
Oconto Falls Public Schools

*View original copy of communication here.

04 – COVID-19 Update – April 3 – Video Conferencing

What Our Teachers Do to Make Zoom More Secure

There has been a lot of news lately about “Zoom bombing”– a practice of bored teenagers and malicious Internet users entering Zoom video conference classroom meetings and disrupting lessons by sharing offensive or potentially dangerous content. Some teachers and parents have reached out to us with concerns about this possibility since Zoom is the tool teachers have been trained to use for live connections during the pandemic. The intent of this communication is help community members understand what the Oconto Falls Public School District is doing to secure our video conferences through Zoom.

The safety and well-being of our students and faculty while using the Internet is a top priority for Oconto Falls Public Schools. The district was able to purchase education-specific Zoom licenses for district employees, and this has enabled us to enhance the security and safety of our Zoom meetings through administrative settings that are not available through free versions of Zoom. In addition to district-level precautions, there are some settings our teachers have been instructed to change themselves to help secure their Zoom meetings.

  • Teachers Adjust The Following Zoom Meeting Settings
  • Disable join before host
  • Embed password in meeting link for one-click join
  • Enable the waiting room
  • Disable file transfer
  • Disable Use Personal Meeting ID when scheduling a meeting

At a minimum, these settings prevent anonymous bad actors from causing problems in Zoom classes. Additionally, there are a few more practices we encourage teachers to employ to secure their meetings even more.

  • Use district email, district Google Calendar, Seesaw, Schoology, or Google Classroom to share Zoom meeting IDs instead of publishing Zoom meeting IDs publicly or through social media.
  • Do not use your personal meeting ID (a 10-digit number like a phone number) to host regular meetings.
  • Disable the private chat setting.
  • Leave default settings to only allow the meeting host to screen share.
  • Enable screen sharing for all participants only if planning to allow students to share during the session.

The Technology Services department and the rest of the instructional technology team are committed to keeping our staff and students safe online. With these precautions, we intend to provide a safe and productive environment for video conferencing across the district.

Corey Jeffers
Director of Technology

02 – COVID-19 Update – March 16 – School Closure

Dear Parents and Staff,

Based on Gov. Evers most recent declaration, we are cancelling the parent meetings scheduled for this evening at Abrams and Oconto Falls Elementary Schools.

We are also cancelling school for students for tomorrow, March 17 through April 5. As more information becomes available, we will contact parents with an update. Again, thank you for your patience and understanding during this ever-changing situation.

Dean Hess
Superintendent of Schools

01 – COVID-19 Update – March 15 – School Closure


March 15, 2020

Dear Parents and Staff,

Today, our Administration Team met to discuss and finalize more details as we build our plan to provide virtual support to students during this school closure. As stated in a previous communication, we will be conducting professional development of staff on Monday, March 16 and March 18 to help prepare them to do virtual instruction during the closure. For this reason students will not report to school on March 16 and March 18 through April 6.

In response to concerns, we are going to make modifications to the meetings planned for parents on Monday night. The plan for the elementary schools is to still host the face to face meetings on Monday night as planned for those parents that feel they need more than a virtual option. (Abrams Elementary 5:30-6:30pm and Oconto Falls Elementary 6:30-7:30pm) This information will be available virtually through our webpage for parents within a few days after the meeting. As for the Middle School and High School parent informational meetings, it has been decided to cancel these meetings and offer this information online only. This decision was based on the fact that our students in grades 6-12 have been using devices and taking them home and we feel there will be less requirement for face to face interaction. Our intent is to have all three level informational meetings (elem, MS, and HS) uploaded to our webpage by 5:00pm on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

In regards to the concerns shared with us regarding students attending Tuesday, March 17, I want to restate that you as parents have the right to keep your child at home. Please understand that our reason for bringing students in on Tuesday is to ensure that they are prepared for virtual learning during this time of school closure. This will include ensuring they have their device and charger, and that they have the base-line knowledge to be able to communicate effectively with their instructors in a virtual setting. It will also allow us to identify students that do not have access to on-line service in which case we will put together a different plan for them. Please know that we have been thoughtful of social distance while also trying to ensure students are prepared to learn online over the next three weeks and possibly beyond.

As more information becomes available to us we will be sharing with families and staff.


Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Schools