COVID-19 Updates

All OFPS Schools Closed Through the 2019-2020 School Year
Based on an order from Governor Evers on April 16, all OFPS schools, 4K classes, and extracurricular activities are closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year due to the public health emergency.

Please view the learning plans below for information regarding student learning throughout the end of the school year. We will publish soon more information relative to important functions like graduation, summer school, and other end-of-year activities. Click the dates at the bottom of this page to expand each district update. Additionally, we have included helpful information below from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Department of Health Services that we encourage families to view.

Oconto Falls Public Schools Learning Plans

Stay safe and healthy!

 

Department of Public Instruction Department of Health Services
Information on COVID-19 COVID-19 Informational Handout
Communication from State Superintendent of Schools – March 31 DHS Outbreaks in Wisconsin

 


RSS


We are pleased to honor our 2020 seniors with this year’s Athletic Awards. Please view the link below for the full website where we are honoring our 2020 seniors.

2020 Senior Recognition Site

Dear Families and Staff,

You’ve most likely heard in the news that the “Safer at Home” order has been overturned by the State Supreme Court. We have received feedback that in a footnote to this 161 page decision, school closures will remain in place. Therefore, we believe that public and private schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year (June 30, 2020), for pupil instruction and extracurricular activities.

As this situation continues to develop we will provide you with updates in as timely of a manner as possible.

Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Schools
Oconto Falls Public Schools

Jake Beschta, the principal of Oconto Falls High School, and Dr. Dean Hess, Superintendent of Schools, join the podcast this week to talk about how we are honoring the class of 2020.

If you have information you would like the Board of Education to consider regarding the Class of 2020, please feel free to fill out the form below prior to noon on May 11, 2020. Thank you!

Superintendent, Dean Hess, and Athletic Director, Jerry Moynihan recently participated in a podcast regarding 2020 Spring sports and activities. Please feel free to listen to the podcast below to gain more details about the current situation.

Also, if you have information you would like the Board of Education to consider, please feel free to fill out the form below prior to noon on May 11, 2020. Thank you!

Dear Parents/Guardians:  

As we continue on in this virtual educational world, the Pupil Services Team wants to reach out to continue to let families and students know we are all here for you!  If you reach out, team members will get back to you (parents and/or students) as soon as they can within “regular” school hours.  The team also wanted to share some resources to support student and family social-emotional wellness during this time. See resources listed below.     

 

Pupil Services Team and Their Contact Information

Building/Staff Role  Email Phone (Voice or Text)

Abrams Elementary School

Patrice Fick School Counselor patrice.fick@of-ps.org (920) 234-8022

Oconto Falls Elementary School

Angela Parkansky School Counselor angela.parkansky@of-ps.org (920) 234-8018
Jean Eastman School Counselor jean.eastman@of-ps.org (920) 234-8021
Haley Bray School Psychologist haley.bray@of-ps.org (920) 234-5892

Washington Middle School

Derek Johnson School Psychologist derek.johnson@of-ps.org (920) 328-5418

Oconto Falls High School

Students A-K:  

Lee Kornaus

School Counselor lee.kornaus@of-ps.org (920) 234-8023
Students L-Z:  

Ann Shallow

School Counselor ann.shallow@of-ps.org (920) 234-8017
Ruth Barnett School Psychologist ruth.barnett@of-ps.org (920) 234-6127
Lynette Donart School Nurse – Abrams, OFES, WMS lynette.donart@of-ps.org (920) 373-5131
Bobbi Jo Boomsma School Nurse – OFHS bobbijo.boomsma@of-ps.org (920) 234-6946

 

Social-Emotional Wellness Resources

Crisis Intervention

Local Crisis Intervention counselors provide mental health services 24 hours a day, every day.  They provide telephone counseling and referral to other support services.  Crisis counselors can be reached at the following numbers:

Oconto County:  8:00am – 4:00 pm (920) 834-7000

All other hours (920) 846-3444   (ask for crisis worker)
Marinette County:  1-800-273-8255
Shawano County:  (920) 238-3253
Brown County:  (920) 436-8888
Suicide Prevention Life Line:  1-800-273-8255

Resources for Early Childhood-1st Grade

PBS Kids Resource for Younger Children
Child Mind Institute – Talking to your child about the coronavirus
Time to Come In, Bear: A Children’s Story About Social Distancing
Millie and Suzi – Why we Stay Home Online Book

Resources for All Elem Students

CDC Copying with Stress/Anxiety
Go Noodle Activities
World Health Organization – Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak
Bright Horizons – How to help Children Relieve Stress

Resources for Adolescent Resources

Unicef – How teenagers can protect mental health during Covid-19
Mindfulness for Teens
SSM – Quick Tips for Mental Health During Covid-19

School Nursing

HSHS St. Clare – Nurses Nook
CDC: Caring for children while school is out
Keeping Kids Active
Cloth Face Coverings for Children
Hand Washing 101
Noah Henry (A rainbow story)
Coronavirus a book for children 

4/24/2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:  

My hope is this letter finds you and your family well!  I wanted to reach out to the families of the students that have IEPs to share the focus of the special education support provided during this remarkable time in education.  I want to share the message with families that I have been sharing with all of our special education staff and building administration.  

General Considerations within Special Education 

  1. Focus on the safety, health and welfare of students and staff members.  
  2. Consider how to provide special education services within the context of the family’s and child’s circumstances (access, services and collaboration with families).  That may look different for each family.  
  3. Treat each student, family and situation individually.    
  4. Continue to review both federal and state guidance as it is provided on a weekly and/or daily basis.    

Specific Focus of Special Ed Staff Work:

  1. Recognize each student’s level of progress on IEP goals in Mid-March, when in-person services stopped.
  2. Provide materials (virtual and/or paper) for students to support IEP goal maintenance prior to closure.
  3. Document attempts to provide these materials and other supports to students with IEPs around their IEP goals to ensure we are best serving our students.
  4. Collaborate with regular education teachers to ensure access of materials sent by regular education teachers.  
  5. Regularly engage with and communicate with students and families, based on each individual family’s situation.
  6. Continue to meet our required annual IEP meeting timelines by providing regularly scheduled annual IEP meetings via Zoom.
  7. Work with families to complete evaluations, seek extensions or waive reevaluations, when needed.  

IEP’s and Special Education Services were not built for this amount of change, in such a short period of time.  I can’t thank all of our families enough for the support and understanding during this time of change!  It is an honor to serve our students with disabilities in any manner we can during this challenging time.  Please reach out to your child’s special education teacher or myself with any questions.  We all can’t wait to see our students when it is safe for everyone!  

Stay Well!

Terri Olsen

Director of Pupil Services/Special Education

***NEW ABRAMS PICK-UP SITE***

FREE Food Service Option During School Closure

Oconto Falls Public Schools will be expanding our FREE Grab and Go Breakfast and Lunch option to include pick-up at Abrams Elementary.

Mondays and Wednesdays, starting April 29,2020. 

12:00pm until 12:30pm at Abrams Elementary Parking Lot

  • On Mondays you will be provided the option to pick up two days of breakfast and lunch per student.
  • Wednesdays you will be given three days of breakfast and lunch per student.
  • These meals will be Free and Available for students 18 and under (no form or registration required) and disabled adults age 21 and under who are enrolled in public or private school.
  • These meals will be available only on regular scheduled school days. Please refer to the 2019-2020 school calendar. 
  • This service will be a drive through grab and go and individuals are not allowed to leave your vehicle.   
  • A parent/family member may pick up without the students being present. 

Menus will be shared on Facebook every Friday for both Oconto Falls High School and Abrams Pick-up sites.

If you have questions or concerns, please email jennifer.faccio@of-ps.org or call (920)848-4471.  Thank you

COVID-19 Alternative Learning Grading Guidance

Grades PreK – 8  

  • Elementary students’ trimester grade will not be lower than earned grade as of March 13, 2020.
  • Middle school students will not receive grades for quint 4 or quint 5.
  • The goal for the remainder of the school year is for students to maintain and sustain skills learned through March 13, as well as to be exposed to new learning that teachers feel are key learning targets related to the standards.
  • There will be no grades given after March 13, 2020.

Grading Practices for Grades PreK-8: 

The district’s philosophy for grading at the elementary and middle levels reflects an “Educational Enrichment” approach, which will result in students receiving materials that both support retaining prior knowledge as well as being exposed to new learning opportunities.  Elementary teachers will support students through weekly communication and feedback. Report cards for the trimester will reflect feedback based on the work completed during the last trimester, which would have been during our Covid 19 closure, involving virtual learning. This feedback would represent a student’s individual growth, level of participation and possible summer learning recommendations.

Students at the middle level will be provided with opportunities to maintain prior knowledge and continue learning with new materials.  Middle school teachers will support students through daily enrichment and educational opportunities, learning activities, and communication.  The focus will continue to be on feedback in lieu of grades.  Middle school report cards will be sent home at the conclusion of the school year.  The report card will offer feedback in the form of grades for the first 3 quints and comments from student engagement and participation during the final 2 quints.

Grades 9 – 12 

  • Students will receive a credit, no evidence, or no credit grade for the second semester. 
  • Student’s letter grades for the 3rd quarter will not be lower than their earned grade as of March 13, 2020.
  • Students were allowed to redo, re-take, or complete work assigned through March 13 to improve third-quarter grade.  (Students were provided this opportunity through May 1.)
  • Only letter grades will be used to determine honor roll and tie-breaking for scholarship determination based on grades assigned throughout a student’s cumulative high school experience, excluding the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • An alternative educational plan will be implemented for students who receive a NO EVIDENCE grade due to complete lack of engagement in learning during the high school’s virtual instruction to receive course credit.

Grading Practices for Grades 9-12: 

We will be utilizing a hybrid model for grading that will allow for a Credit / No Evidence / No Credit grade in place of the normal letter grade method for measuring and recording a student’s learning progress in a specific course, completed during the final semester of the 2019-20 school year.  This method of grading accomplishes the following: 

  • Ensures a “Do No Harm” philosophy for our students. A student’s 3rd quarter grade (of Credit / No Credit) should not be lower than what it was as of Friday, March 13, 2020. Students should be allowed to make up missed work prior to March 13, 2020 to improve their grade.   
  • Allows for shared responsibility between parent/guardian and District. 
    • The Credit / No Credit grade will be utilized for the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year.
    • Enables a student that was struggling prior to March 13, 2020 to bring their grade up. 
  • Students that do not engage in the educational learning opportunities provided to them will initially receive a “No Evidence” grade.  This will stay in effect for —- weeks when if not addressed by the students will be replaced with a “No Credit” grade
  • Semester II (2019-2020) grades will not be calculated into a student’s cumulative GPA.
  • All courses that result in a grade of Credit will result in the awarding of high school credit as progress made towards graduation. 
  • Only letter grades will be counted toward honor roll status and for tie-breaking determination for scholarships, excluding the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year. 
  • Dual credit courses, college-credit courses, and transcribed courses would be conducted and graded as per the policies of the post-secondary institution.  

Advanced Placement (AP): 

  • For the 2019–20 exam only, students can take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home. Since some students have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will include only topics and skills most AP teachers and students covered in class through March 13. Please use this link to access free exam practice courses offered by AP on YouTube: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates#free-ap-classes
  • Colleges support the shortened test solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked to earn.  Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device including a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Submitting a photo of handwritten work will also be an option. The College Board recognizes that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, the College Board will ensure that these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam. If students need mobile tools or connectivity, they should reach out directly to the College Board to request assistance by completing the form at https://collegeboard.tfaforms.net/74. This general website gives additional updated information on the changes discussed in this document https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update.

Students with IEP’s or 504 Plans in the District

  • Students will be provided appropriate resources and accommodations in the virtual learning  or alternative learning setting through collaboration between classroom teacher, special education teacher, support staff member, the student, and parents/guardians.  
  • Additionally, classroom teachers, special education teachers ,support staff,  the student, and parents/guardians will consider, as necessary, alternative methods to measure whether a student has met or exceeded minimum proficiency standards.  
  • If changes need to be made to supports or accommodations in a virtual or alternative learning setting, an IEP or 504 meeting can be scheduled to make necessary changes to support skill demonstration for a student.     
  • Student IEP goals will be assessed at the end of the current school year and upon the start of the following school year, which does not affect grades.

Dear Families,

Yesterday Governor Evers announced that he has ordered our school buildings to be closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year as part of Emergency Order #28 (Safer at Home).  As we shared in a previous letter, we have been planning for this potential decision, and earlier this week, our board of education took action to approve educational plans for the remainder of the school closing.  Yesterday you should have received communication from your child’s principal outlining the educational programming you can expect. Please know that the members of our team stand ready to work collaboratively with you and your child to ensure that you receive the support you need to be successful for the remainder of the year.  

As part of our proactive planning, we have been brainstorming potential courses of action related to how we might conduct graduations, award/scholarship ceremonies, yearbook distribution, and other end-of-year activities.  We will be reaching out to you during the next days and weeks to provide you with plans that address these challenges. In each situation we will be thoughtful that our processes keep to the forefront the safety of our students, families, and staff.  During this same timeframe, we anticipate that you will have many questions and concerns. Please review your child’s school and our district website where we are regularly posting information. If further assistance is needed, please reach out to your child’s teacher, building principal, or me.  

I recognize that this news may be very difficult for you and your child.  As a school district we, too, are struggling with this news. However, over the past few weeks, I have been lifted up by student and parent feedback when they’ve shared examples of how this difficult situation has positively impacted their family as it relates to time together.  I am thankful for the way that these challenges have brought our school staff together with our families, and have strengthened our relationships. You have my word that our school district family will continue to provide both educational and emotional support for our students and you as we navigate through these challenges.    

Please accept my appreciation for the manner in which you and your family are following the stay-at-home guidance.  Although tragic, the data shared by Governor Evers yesterday is also hopeful and supports the theories that our stay-at-home actions are having a positive impact to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  With that understood, it is important that we stay the course and continue to support this extension of the Safer at Home order. This link to the Safer at Home FAQ  document provides answers and practical feedback to many frequently asked questions.  Through everyone’s willingness to make sound decisions aligned with this guidance, we can save lives during this public health emergency.      

We are in this together, and together we are stronger!

Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Schools

To our Oconto Falls School District students & families: 

WE ARE STILL YOUR SCHOOL NURSES & WE CARE ABOUT YOU! 

These unprecedented times may be presenting you with many challenges and leaving you with feelings of uncertainty.  These concerns we share are impacting our community, nation & world in ways that we could have never imagined. The next few weeks will determine if we are having success in mitigating the spread of COVID19.  This requires a complete disruption to the busy lifestyle that we all know. We are all experiencing a ‘new normal’. However, if you do your part to stay safe & stay home, we will all be back together, learning, socializing & enjoying this great community again soon.  We will get through this together – while apart! 

COVID19 circumstances are in constant motion of change but we want you to be assured that we are staying informed and educated so that we can best assist you now, as your health is still our priority AND so that we can prepare for how your health needs may have changed when we are able to return to school.

Your physical and emotional wellbeing are both important.  Stress can have a great impact on each. Find ways to keep healthy in all aspects of your life.  This is going to look very different as we all find ourselves in unique situations: working from home, stress about having to continue to work in the community, unemployment and financial concerns, new family routines, virtual learning, schooling at home, health needs other than COVID19 … the list is endless.  

Keep in mind the following as we proceed with this challenge together:

  • Please reach out so that we can help assist you to the best of our abilities or help direct you to the resources you need. 
  • Continue to stay connected to one another!  There are ways to accomplish this through appropriate social distancing.  Connection is more important now than ever before! 
  • Stay active!  Make time every day to get moving, up your heart rate & clear your mind.
  • Practice good hand hygiene
    • Wash hands frequently, scrubbing with soap & water for at least 20 seconds
    • Disinfect frequently used surfaces
    • Avoid touching your face & cover your cough & sneeze
  • For those that continue to work outside the home as essential workers:
    • Wash hands often, specifically when leaving & entering the home and workplace
    • Change your clothes when getting home
    • Stay home when you are sick
  • CDC is now recommending wearing face masks out in public.  
    • DO NOT let this become a false sense of security.  
    • This is intended to stop the germs you are carrying.  It is not intended to directly protect you! 
  • Continue to practice social distancing, limit your leaving of home to essential work and needs, coming directly home after and  STAY SAFE! 

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out.  We continue to be here for your child & family. We want to make sure that your health and basic needs are being met.  We have resources to assist you.  

WE ARE STILL YOUR NURSES!  

Stay Safe & Stay well

Lynette Donart, RN, BSN
lynette.donart@of-ps.org
920-373-5131

Bobbi Jo Boomsma, RN, BSN
bobbijo.boomsma@of-ps.org
920-234-6946

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dear Oconto Falls High School Students (and Parents/Guardians):

I cannot put into words how much our staff at OFHS miss you!  We cannot wait for you to return to our building. You are the energy, excitement, and personality that makes our school special and an amazing place to be.  While we all work together to move past the many challenges created by COVID-19, I hope you and your family continue to experience great health, enjoy additional time spent with one another, and find time to do things you enjoy.  We will be together in learning and competition again soon, I cannot wait for that day!  

I would also like to thank you for your commitment to completing our enrichment learning opportunities over the last three weeks.  Your efforts were critical in helping our high school identify how best to support you in virtual learning moving forward. Our teachers, school counselors, office staff, and administration have, and will continue to, work diligently to support you any way they can as we continue through our virtual learning experience.

A high school building, during our mandated closure, has different challenges to overcome and goals to meet in comparison to elementary and middle school buildings.  Our high school has a 26-credit graduation requirement, student pathways for course study and credit, and many advanced courses that earn high school and college-level credits.  Although enrichment opportunities provided an option for participation, our high school must now take the next step in our virtual learning journey and provide students instructional lessons and learning activities that are graded and keep them on track for graduation from OFHS.  (The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provided a grid for state school districts to share what they were implementing for virtual learning programming. Of the over two hundred school districts to respond, Oconto Falls High School was one of two which was not grading academic work in some capacity.)

Below is a detailed description of our high school’s implementation of a CREDIT/NO CREDIT grading policy and instructional/learning format for Semester II of this school year, which was acted upon by our school board at a meeting on Tuesday, April 14.  This implementation will continue through the duration of our state mandated school closure.  

Please seek out the help of your teachers and administration if you need additional support as you work through your offsite, virtual learning experience.  I am confident, based on knowing who you are, you are going to do what generations of Oconto Falls Panthers have done when faced with a challenge – you are going to thrive, be the very best you can be, and succeed in a way that makes a difficult circumstance a positive experience that makes you better!  We will get through this together, grow from this together, and become stronger through this together.  

Go Panthers!

Mr. Jake Beschta
Oconto Falls High School Principal

Mr. Danny Smith
Oconto Falls High School Associate Principal
OFHS Alternative School Coordinator


2019-2020 Semester II CREDIT/NO CREDIT Grading Expectations

Week Course Schedule

Monday & Wednesday:  Class Periods 1, 2, 3, 4
Tuesday & Thursday: Class Periods 5, 6, 7, 8
Friday: Student Work Day, Teacher Planning, Student/Teacher Contacts

    • EXCEPTION:  Students enrolled in NWTC, UWGB, St. Norbert, and/or AP courses will continue with the current course schedule (daily), course work, and grading based on the institution’s expectations.
    • Each lesson will be planned to require a minimum of 25 minutes and a maximum of 40 minutes of student engagement and work completion.  Teachers will continue to post office hours to address student questions, support individual students, and make parent/guardian contacts.  Each day’s lessons will be posted between 7 – 9 AM the day of the lessons.
    • Each week’s instruction, based on each individual course, will choose an essential learning target determined by the teacher and department to focus instruction.  These essential learning targets will be clearly posted and communicated, and will guide instruction each week. Learning targets will be equitable and similar regardless of instructional method.  (virtual vs. packet)  If you are an individual who needs paper copies, please contact the high school office at 9208484467 or email Principal Beschta at jacob.beschta@of-ps.org.  Arrangements can be made to have paper copies picked up at the high school office.  Completed paper copies will need to be returned to the high school office by a due date determined by the classroom teacher.
    • Teachers and ADMIN will support student learning by providing feedback through the use of Google Classroom, Schoology, NEO (learning management system), ZOOM video, LOOM demonstration videos, email, and phone conversation.  If a student is not engaging, the classroom teacher, school counselors, support staff member, and ADMIN will be in frequent contact with the student and his/her parents/guardians to find ways to support, provide additional instruction, and/or provide additional opportunities to demonstrate proficiency toward the essential learning targets. work completion. 
    • Students with an IEP or 504 will be provided necessary resources and accommodations through collaboration between classroom teacher, support staff member, case manager, the student, and parents/guardians.  If a change needs to be made, an IEP meeting can be scheduled to make necessary changes. Additionally, classroom teachers, support staff, case managers, the student, and parents/guardians will consider, as necessary, alternative methods to measure whether a student has met or exceeded minimum proficiency standards.
    • Every effort will be made to ensure that students have received feedback and opportunities to demonstrate at least an understanding of all learning targets.  (The GOAL will be, and always will be, to have students aim toward achieving a mastery understanding; however, we also know in these difficult times that realistic goals need to be set for student achievement.)

 

CREDIT / NO CREDIT Semester II Grading

    • Third-quarter grades will be progress monitoring grades ONLY and will be determined based on what the student achieved as of March 13.  Students will have the opportunity to continue to make-up/correct any assignments/assessments which were assigned and graded through March 13.  (These opportunities can only improve grades.)  Make-up and late work through March 13 must be completed by 3:45 PM on May 1.
    • Course CREDIT/NO CREDIT will be determined by cumulative work throughout Semester II.  Academic work, beginning on April 20, will be assigned a point value and graded. Work beginning April 20, the progress-monitoring grade from March 13, and a student’s daily engagement in completing work will be considered to determine the student’s Semester II CREDIT/NO CREDIT grade.  Final CREDIT/NO CREDIT decision will be made by the high school principal.  
    • A student who receives NO CREDIT will not receive Semester II course credit, and he/she will be provided additional opportunities – summer school, Odysseyware course(s), or potentially additional time based on circumstance – to complete work.
    • In order to receive CREDIT for work beginning April 20, a student must demonstrate at least a minimum proficiency of assigned learning targets through completion of assigned course work.  Minimum proficiency will be determined by the classroom teacher and must meet at least a percentage score of 64% or better.
    • Semester II will NOT be calculated into a student’s cumulative GPA.  Class of 2020 grade point average will be finalized as of the conclusion of Semester VII of the senior classes’ high school experience.  ( Each year, all scholarships are awarded based on Semester VII GPA and achievements.)
    • THERE WILL BE NO SEMESTER II FINAL EXAM SCHEDULE.

 

 

To Families and Community Members:

School Board Meetings
During the COVID-19 school closure, the Oconto Falls Public Schools Board of Education will be streaming meetings LIVE on YouTube.  The date and time of each meeting as well as a link to view the live stream will be available on our webpage https://ofpanthers.com/district-office/board-of-education/.  

 

Join Board Meeting Virtually by:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJPHJzRDGKpoUTYz4mXUHMA/live

Please keep in mind, the live stream is only available while the meeting is in session. This complies with State Open Meetings Law.  We will not be maintaining the videos to be viewed at a later time on our webpage. Again, please understand that this option to watch the Board meetings live is only during the school closure.

 

Public Comment for Board Meetings
We are offering an option to the public to share comments with the Board.  Please understand these submissions will be reviewed and will be subject to Board Policy 0167.3.  If you would like to submit comments to the Board, please click on the following link Public Participation Submission form.  

 

District Office Communication
We have recently added a COVID-19 Update webpage that will host our District communication throughout this closure.  There are many things that are changing daily, and we are doing our best to make decisions and communicate as quickly as we possibly can.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Debbie Woods at (920) 848-4471 or debra.woods@of-ps.org.

Thank you and please stay safe!

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.

 

GUIDANCE FROM GOVERNOR EVERS
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.

 

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING AND EDUCATIONAL PLANS
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/.

 

GUIDANCE FOR SENIORS AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
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.

 

UPDATING COMMUNICATION
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.

 

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER
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
Superintendent
Oconto Falls Public Schools

*View original copy of communication here.

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

Oconto Falls Public Schools will be offering FREE Grab-and-Go Breakfast and Lunch options for students (PK-12) in our district. Please see the details in the image below for more details.

 

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

 

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.

Sincerely,

Dean R. Hess
Superintendent of Schools